It occurred to me as I looked over the past few blogs including my own that if we really want to encourage more people to select teaching Agriculture as a career we might scare off quite a few with all the talk of long hours and seemingly never ending demands on our time. Those demands are certainly true and I know that sometimes just venting about them helps but the reality is that teaching Ag is so rewarding that it far outweighs the negatives - and truth be told I don't know any Ag Teachers that, if asked what they would give up if they could (FFA meetings after school, CDE's, Professional Development meetings, etc.) would actually choose to give up anything. Ok - for me I could do with less administrative meetings - the ones that really have nothing to do with my students where I spend time trying to bring yet another administrator up to speed on some campus issue knowing that within a few years they will move on - its the price of being at a place long enough to "know where all the bodies are buried" as we say in New Jersey. Actually I often threaten to bury a few since we do have the equipment to handle that.
But back to the rewards - for me it's going to a New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association meeting and reconnecting with graduates who choose to become members and who learned the value of giving back (perhaps because of something I said or did); it's seeing the student at graduation who, when he or she started, had no confidence in their ability to learn or do anything academically; it's meeting parents on graduation day who shake your hand and thank you for what you did - and then they proceed to tell you want you did and you can't believe their kid actually got all that from you! Its the appreciation on a kid's face when they mess up and you don't judge them for it but help them get back on track; it's the kids who thank you but its also the ones who don't but who you know benefited. It's little surprises like stumbling on a community blog and finding that you and your classes are talked about as a "must take" for anyone who really wants to learn about plants. I could go on and on and I know that all Ag teachers would say the same - we may never get rich monetarily doing this but our lives are incredibly rich in many other ways. So, allow us to vent occasionally but know that we all love what we do!