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Matt Eddy

Ice Skating Uphill

Posted by Matt Eddy Dec 21, 2010

I should just give in and quit trying to teach until the last day of the semester (Today).  All it does is boil my oil and put stress on all the connections that hold this place together...


Silly me, I spent the last full week of the semester cramming in another unit, with tests, etc in almost all my classes.  Teach till the end, they say.  The last two days of the semester my Freshman and upperclassmen had to grade SAE books, and proficiency application's (not the full ones... yet) but just the parts of both I had assigned to be completed.  IN AUGUSTAnd gave them bits and pieces of time all throughout the semester to work on them, ask questions (practically none did), and generally have them completed.  After Thanksgiving, I had 'the talk'with them about personal responsibility and completing work that was not rigidly scheduled, but supposed to be completed on time, yada yada yada.  Continually trying to ease them along.


So the piece of cake I thought I was feeding them turned into the 'hot mess'  of the century (borrowing a new phrase from a MN, now IA friend).  Not only had many of them completed diddly, but pulled the "I didn't know what to do" card.  Horse feathers!  I ain't buyin' that today!


So instead of getting in the Christmas spirit, I was channeling the Grinch on a bad hair day for two days straight.  Sigh... Bah Humbug.


Maybe I should have just shown a video for a week or played hopscotch for that matter.... to be fair, it now looks like after I raised the rafters, almost 80% are now completed, scrambled to be done, as they did.  And the last bits I will have captive for an hour and a half to complete what they have missed after the semester tests.  PAY ME NOW, OR PAY ME LATER; BUT you will PAY ME.


Semester tests start tomorrow for two days, and I doubt the expectations I have half warily laid out there will be met either.... another sigh.


Next semester will be better.  (Aren't I the typical farmer??  "Had that flood, but next year will be better"... LOL)


I guess it can't get worse.

One event that we added to our end of the semester activities is the "Design Review". It started when outcomes assessment became a focus on our campus. While some departments embedded test questions into final exams for their outcomes assessment I was not comfortable with that. I wanted a way to have our student learning assessed that was truer to what we ask of them - and a large part of that is their ability to demonstrate what they have learned by doing, by creating, by building something.


The design review works like this: students in Design and Planning complete a residential design project and develop storyboards illustrating their project. I invite professional landscape designers, landscape architects and design/build professionals to come to our design review session which is usually held in the early evening. The reviewers are provided with the criteria and design project information which the students worked with. I also bring lots of food. Our students set up their storyboards around the classroom and the professionals move from student to student either individually or in teams of two or three. Each student gets the chance to "present" their work in a less intimidating and more intimate setting and also gets feedback from 5 - 10 different professionals during the event which typically lasts about 2 hours. There is a chance for all to take breaks and get something to eat, there is lots of mingling and networking and my students often tell me that it is the single best thing they did in college - high praise indeed.


I also ask the design professional to complete a simple survey at the end of the evening which asks them to tell me how well I did my job - in other words - how well did the students learn what they need to know as professional designers - this is the outcomes assessment component. I get great feedback that has helped me be a better teacher.


I think there are several lessons here - but maybe the best is that, as teachers of agriculture, we should embrace the professionals and encourage them to interact with our programs and with our students. I know that, for new teachers, the thought of asking a farmer, or veterinarian, or greenhouse owner to help may be intimidating. Start by introducing yourself - especially if you are new to the community. Get them involved in your advisory committee, ask about field trip opportunities or if they would come to do a guest lecture to your class. Maybe even ask them to come at the end of the school year to see and review student projects. Your program will be stronger for it and your students will gain so much from these interactions.

Kellie Claflin

It's Official!

Posted by Kellie Claflin Dec 14, 2010

Today I received the exciting news that I am going to be officially at Kiel High School next semester to fulfill my student teaching requirement for my agricultural education degree. I'm doing something a little bit unique with my student teaching, as I'm actually considered an "intern". I'll be teaching 1 block class by myself and have been essentially "hired" to teach that class and will be student teaching the rest of the day. As an intern, I went through a slightly different process then most student teachers in Wisconsin go through. As a student teacher you fill out paperwork and include areas that you would like to be placed and then our wonderful faculty members find an ag program that is a good fit for you. As an intern teacher, I went through the full application process a new teacher goes through complete interviews and being approved by the school board. It was definitely a neat experience to see what I'll be facing this spring as I start looking for a teaching job!


Now everything is seeming a bit more real. This morning the 10 student teachers at UW-River Falls had our student teacher meeting to find out more about what will be expected of us by the university next semester. Even though I've been at UWRF for 4.5 years, it still seems unbelievable that I'm done with my undergraduate classes and off to student teaching. It's a very surreal experience as I finish out my last week on campus writing papers and getting ready to move.


It's both scary and exciting as I prepare to move across the state, getting lessons ready and moving on to the new stage of my life!

     Well it is almost Christmas break and I just finished up the last exam that I will ever take.  It is a refreshing feeling ,but also

a bittersweet one.  Im about to enter the work force as an agricultural educator.  I'm very anxious to see what student teaching

will bring my way next semester.  I have grown so accustomed to life as a student, and that time is almost up. YIKES!!! All joking aside

I really am excited to get in the classroom and begin filling minds with the knowledge that has been poured into me over the last 5 years.

Really not knowing what to expect has gotten me envisioning what it will be like.  This blog is a great opportunity for me because I can

look back hopefully five years from now and relize how different it is probally going to be (in a good way).  Well thats all for now, I hope each and

everyone of you has a great christmas break, sharing it with the ones you love, and celebrating the birth of the one who loved us above all else.


God Bless,


  Jacob Hathcox

Matt Eddy


Posted by Matt Eddy Dec 8, 2010

Wether or not it's high practice, it is what it is.

Yesterday our fruit came in.  Today, in the midst of that chaos, I'm taking some time today for kids to work with their SAE records on the AET (Ag Experience Tracker).  It's a nice day to balance lots of different irons in the fire.  It allows me to work with kids individually, juggle the fruit issues, solve SAE interactions and even breathe a bit.  Students are updating entries, completing proficiencies, re-writing earlier entries, and putting little flags on google maps where their SAE"s are located.


Data is king, and until we as educators start taking the gathering of data seriously, it's hard for us to make headway with the decision and policy makers.  I think that our data can almost tell the ag ed story on it's own.


Some data that the AET will deliver to you. (This is still in the adoption process here at SE Polk, but the potential is out of this world)


Vender summary:

Dollars can be allocated to where they were spent -- Bass Pro, Farmers Coop, Heartland Coop, Prairie City Feed Center, etc etc.


Breakdown by Career Pathway:

Ag Business - 11%

Environ Systems - 5%

Natural Resources - 12%

Power Structure systems - 4%

Animal Science - 59%

Food Process Systems - 4%

Plant Systems - 8%


Program Summary -

Male - 45%

Female - 55%

9th Grade - 17% (still bringing them online)

10th Grade - 44%

11th Grade - 23%

12th Grade - 16%


Journal Hours so far this year (placement hours) - Jrn Hours: 2,974


And much, much more.


The more you have your students enter information that they would / should do for an SAE anyway - the better the chapter data you can get and use to better your programs.  Time to put the onus on the students for SAE success.


We have a good story to tell, and it's about time we started telling it.

As I sit here in the McCarran Airport, watching the masses stream in and out of Las Vegas, I can't help but reflect on NAAE 2010.


  • Great reward is not without risk.  Calculating and preparing for that risk is the key part.  Is the juice worth the squeeze.  We have many initiatives, pivotal positions that need hired, organizational issues needing creative problem solving, and the general state of Agriculture Education in general.  Our leaders must not let obstacles deter us from our chosen destination.  I'm intrigued to learn the results of the elections today since we were unable to stay.  Twitter me!  I hope that whomever is elected president-elect and Greg Curlin will strive to find our win-win situations, keep our needs infront of those decision makers and continually strive to improve our organization -- Keep moving forward. as my son's favorite Disney movie "Meet the Robinsons" says.


  • If you don't get a little 'skin in the game'  --- are you really playing?  Our profession needs the involvement of every member.  There may be a time in the near future where we will need to raise our collective voices to obtain what we want.  Will you be prepared to help us?  It may require an ante into the game, but it beats sitting on the sidelines watching.


  • Make plans for St. Louis in 2011 -- start letting your adminstrators know about this conference.  Find ways to make it work - I know it isn't easy and travel from your school districts is difficult  --- but the juice is definately worth the squeeze when you partake of this great association.


Oh yeah - start putting some Mason jars in the ground for Vegas in 2013.  This town is a lot of fun when you can come with few Benji's in your pocket.


Until then, may all your flushes be straight and your show tickets front and center. I'm outta here.

Kellie Claflin

Viva Las Vegas!

Posted by Kellie Claflin Dec 2, 2010

This year I was invited to work  the NAAE convention in Vegas and am absolutely loving it. Last year I was able to attend convention in Nashville as a staff member after serving as a communications intern with NAAE. It was a fabulous experience meeting ag teachers from around the nation, attending workshops and seeing the behind-the-scene work of a convention.


I've been spending most of my time at the convention registration desk where I have become a professional at making name tags. It's a great chance to see familiar faces and get to know new ones. I'm also looking forward to attending a few workshops, especially as I prepare to go into the classroom as a student teacher! (Aaah!!!)


The NAAE Convention staff includes of NAAE student staff and interns who work their butts off during the week! But we also find time to see the sights during our downtime including seeing the fountains in front of the Bellagio, taking a limo ride down the strip and enjoying a free concert featuring the Eli Young Band, Randy Rogers Band and Jack Ingram. I've really enjoyed getting to know my fellow staff members!


It's easy to see why attending NAAE convention is such a great event for ag teachers. There are tons of workshops and general sessions recognizing OUTSTANDING teachers and programs to get new ideas for their local programs. It's also fun to watch the relationships that teachers have developed with other teachers over the years - what a better place to network with your peers. Also, you come home with a ton of free resources!


Professional development + networking = a good life. Spending a week with the greatest individuals in the world - ag teachers - as well as getting in a little break before life gets really crazy!

Matt Eddy

Vegas - Day 1

Posted by Matt Eddy Dec 2, 2010

It always seems to me that Vegas is an island unto itself.  Whenever I visit, it's like going into a vortex and coming out in some alternate universe where the normal rules don't apply.  Three Dog Night probably said it best: "I seen so many things; I ain't never seen before" .  With that said, the convention is off to a fan-tabulous start.


We heard from Dr. Larry Case, with some excellent words as he takes one last turn around the Ag Ed Universe before retirement.  I heard there were some funny moments during registration.... 


We also heard from Dwight Armstrong, National FFA.  I find his words and his leadership to be very comforting that National FFA is in good hands and has teachers and students fully in mind.  "Believe me, we at National FFA know we don't exist without you [teachers]".  And while it's easy to target your audience, I get the distinct feeling that he is most earnest and frank about his appreciation and love of the Blue and Gold.  I look forward to great things to come out of Indianapolis.


We honored our award recipients from each region in both the morning and afternoon sessions, conducted regional meetings and even found some time to visit a few sites.




Well, off to prepare for our CASE workshop today - Capri 110, if your in the neighborhood; can't promise any Vegas glitz or glammor, but some exciting things will be discussed.


Afterwards, I will make my best effort so that tonight doesn't turn into a Motley Crue song...

Matt Eddy

Fruit Loops

Posted by Matt Eddy Dec 1, 2010

Day 1 of NAAE session opening up this morning.  Excitement abounds.  Greeting old friends and making new ones.


After arriving in Las Vegas last night, we toured the Bellagio fountains and the Effiel Tower at Paris, Paris. Stopped by the "Pawn Stars" pawn shop.  It looks different than you think, but had some neat stuff.


After my internal clock woke me up at 3:30 am PST - I wandered down for some breakfast.  The Riviera buffet this morning was likeable for $9.95 this morning.  As I mulled over my choices of breakfast cereal this morning, I kinda thought convention was a lot like my choices.


I could pick the bland, safe, beneficial Raisin Bran or some other Bran cereal that would be 'good' for me.  Or I could throw caution to the wind and select something that would be enjoyable and a bit colorful.


Conventions are a lot like my choices this morning -- either way you go - there are always ideas and concepts that need evaluated.  Whether you are a safe and cautious type or not - reach out for some new experiences and enjoy the ride.



ME?  I always go for the Fruit Loops.


Follow the escapades on twitter at #naae10

A Day in the Life....If you want to be an AG Teacher in the Floriculture Industry, here is some perspective on what to expect during the month of December. An excellent fundraiser is having your students make and sell Fresh Evergreen Wreaths, Grave Blankets (Cemetery Mounds) and Fresh Evergreen Centerpieces. It is a huge undertaking and requires a great deal of organization, preparation and hard WORK, but also a great way to teach your students design skills, material selection, marketing and sound work ethic; while raising money that you can use to benefit your program. Here is what my 1st week of "Winter Holiday Production" looks like:


Monday - Check Greenhouses to assure proper temperatures to maintain poinsettias during sale time this month. Scout for Whitefly!  Cleanup Poinsettias for sale. Cleanup and organize floriculture lab. Unpack holiday supplies and decorations.

Tuesday- Consolidate plants in greenhouses and lab to clear area, take down and move hydroponics systems, move benches and set up area to make room for CITRUS FRUIT! Yes, that comes in this month too! Make BOWS.

Wednesday - Prepare Floriculture Lab for Winter Holiday Production of Fresh Evergreen Wreaths, Grave Blankets (Cemetery Mounds) and Fresh Evergreen Centerpieces. Receive first shipment of evergreens and supplies. Unpack, prepare and organize work stations for production. Wire Pine Cones. Make BOWS!

Thursday - Fresh Evergreen Wreath Demonstrations, Review and Production for Sale on Saturday! Wire more Pine Cones. Keep making BOWS!

Friday -  Continue Fresh Evergreen Wreath Production... did I mention a sale tomorrow!?  and by the way .... we need more BOWS! 

Saturday - SALE of Fresh Evergreen Wreaths and Poinsettias

.... and that is a rather slow week. Stay tuned for the rest of the month as orders keep coming in from the school district and local community.


Also, don't that National FFA Convention has past and we are in the swing of things back in the classroom, lab and greenhouses...... Remember to consider your own professional development opportunities. As AG Teachers we continuously focus on preparing our students for CDE's, degrees, proficiency awards and LIFE! We keep the candle burning at both ends while teaching, fundraising and planning engaging activities to attract and keep our students coming to FFA meetings. We also need to make and take the time to recharge ourselves. What better way than to attend the NAAE Convention. If you have not had the chance to travel without students, you are in for a treat or possibly you may be wondering why you are in bed before midnight! I was rather lost without them but is was well worth it! As a National Agriscience Ambassador, I had the opportunity to present workshops at the NAAE Convention in Tennessee last year and it was my first time at a NAAE Convention. I was very busy with my presentations, but in between sessions, I managed to attend several workshops and meetings. I met new people, networked and gained many new ideas to take back to my classroom and FFA Program. I highly recommend adding the next NAAE Convention to your list of things to do if you are not heading to Las Vegas this week.

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