I tire quickly of people who brag. I don't even like the word "brag" at some primal level. With that said, I am going to brag today.
Yes, the irony is there. My older students know I have a short tolerance for excessive celebration about themselves in front of others. Can we be happy about what we did? Sure. Can we pat ourselves on the back for a job well done? You bet; be proud of what we do! Do you have to tell everyone and their dog how individually awesome you are for the sake of comparison? Now you're lame. I have one younger student who has yet to master this concept of sportsmanship; in fact, he once asked if I ever brag to the other teachers when we win CDEs. It was incomprehensible that I did not.
And no, it's not just because one of the other ag teachers around here is my wife.
Yet, I still feel the need to brag about my students today, after what was for the rest of our school a four day weekend (Veteran's Day and Friday were days off) but for ten Sutherlin FFA members was 3 days of fence building, a task that became worthy of a reality TV show. Here's the gist:
Backstory: Our land lab is leased from the local irrigation and water control district, has been for nearly 30 years. The local director is replacing fence around the reservoir and offered to pay the FFA to do it as a fundraiser, instead of hiring the county work crew. I am all about real work for real money (I inherited a strong dislike of bake sales and car washes from my former ag teacher, as many groups already do them), so with kids on board we signed on.
The Timeframe: We begin our tale Thursday afternoon, following the local Veteran's Day parades (after all, the point of the day off is so you can participate in such activities). We begin deconstruction (our specialty) in order to clean the slate for the new fence. We all agree we want to get this project done this weekend, so we don't have to worry about it later.
The Drama: Like any good episode of Deadliest Catch, something must go awry. And so it does: the irrigation district director bought 1047 field fence wire for posts that were put in the ground for 39" tall wire, so it had to all be taken back. Then a shear bolt sheared off on the tractor auger. Then the cattle were in the next field that were supposed to be gone. Then someone lost the screwdrivers for putting up fence clips. Then the chain was missing. Then the crossmembers were put on too high for the H-braces. Then the drill batteries went dead. Then we ran out of fence clips. Then the director drove off with the extra fence clips. Then it rained. Then the brace wire snapped. Then I poked a hole in my thumbnail with barb wire.
And so on...
The Bragging: Too often people complain about the work ethic of today's youth. To be fair, I can offer several examples. But this weekend, those kids met each morning at 8am and worked solid until dark every day. There was no complaining, no shirking, no sitting down on the job, no avoiding tasks. They were there to get a job done, and that's what they did. They took care in their work, took apart what needed to be redone right, and had a pretty good attitude the whole time. These days I wonder if I could find a dozen adults with the same abilities. None of us really wanted to be there at 5:15pm Saturday evening, but we finished what we could and got the job done.
And so today, I brag not about myself, because I really can't take credit for much more than being able to teach some great kids. I brag about ten students who put in the time and got the job done. They are prime examples of what the individuals involved in agricultural education should possess.
But I guess I can brag a litte, because I get to teach them. And not everybody gets that kind of pleasure.
Share the accomplishments of your students! If there is one thing that truly keeps us in the business, it's their success!