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Matt Eddy

Anagnorisis and peripeteia

Posted by Matt Eddy Apr 26, 2011

Where does one begin?  Discovery and Change -- it's all around us and 'they' might be right.  You learn something new every day... twice if your paying attention.


The last month or so has been a blur, but not unlike any April since I started teaching.  It seems like when I am just wanting to kick hard for the last lap, the students are pulling to the side to puke their guts out...  The end of school is such a contrast.  The weather is nice, but we have to be inside for school work; the seniors are mentally on sabbatical, but we have a month of classwork to finish before the final grades are due; and just when you want to 'coast one out', there are things to do galore and more than you can shake a stick at.


Our Altoona baskets are later this year than typical, but they will probably turn out fine when they go out next week, during our Senior SCIP (Senior Community Improvement Program) Day activities.  The kids work hard on them and they make the downtown look really good during the summer.  Plus, having projects that are 'fill to order' in the greenhouse allows for great learning experiences and the students take a lot of ownership in the baskets.

Greenhouse Baskets 06.JPGGreenhouse Baskets 02.JPG

Greenhouse Baskets 04.JPGGreenhouse Baskets 07.JPG



State FFA convention went well.  Our freshman Conduct of Meetings team competed and represented themselves and our program well.  In some greater good, non-competitive side of me, I think that I do agree with the quote - "The Journey is the Reward".  I'm sure in a few years they won't remember exactly how they did, but will be able to use the skills they developed for a lifetime....




I had my first "Iowa Star Finalist in Ag Production" this year and Southeast Polk's first as well.  Very satisfying for me, as this girl was a model FFA member, works hard, is a great person to be around, chapter president, wants to be an Ag Teacher (despite the ag teacher she got saddled with for her high school career ).  Can't wait to see what exciting things she will accomplish in her future.  Sometimes, you couldn't pay me enough to come back on Monday and sometimes, I'd do this job for free.  This is probably a great example of the latter.


Our ALC cows for the Iowa State Fair's Animal Learning Center (ALC) are pregged and we will probably check them again in late May / Early June to narrow down the birthing window a bit and let the kids get a chance to palpate as well.  If you follow Twitter, #ISFALC11 is what I will use as we get into the fair season.




I leave for Nicholasville, KY this weekend (Friday) for CASE LEAD teacher training.  I can't wait to see some of the great teachers that are involved in this project.  Nicholasville is a 'make your own fun' kinda place, but we manage to have a good time.  Ag teachers are an entertaining bunch, for sure.  It's actually pretty intriguing to me how similar we all are, but how different our geographies can be.




If you haven't checked CASE out yet -- you should.  It ain't your daddy's agriculture, so if you find yourself shopping around for a better curriculum (that you don't have to create from scratch), need to beef up the science you teach, or are plain looking for a better way;  you might want to investigate or talk with teachers across the nation who are using it.


I'm also pretty excited to see what story's emerge from across the country -- what kids like / don't like, how well it's received, what other states think of it, who is getting science credit, etc.  I can't believe I'm getting excited about curriculum, but the potential is outstanding.


As always, follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME


Hakuna Matata, ME

Matt Eddy

Sharpen the saw

Posted by Matt Eddy Apr 11, 2011

A fan of Steven Covey or not - you have to admit that there is some benefit to taking moments every now and again for some self-maintenance.


Teaching Agriculture is a peculiar profession sometimes -- in that we usually don't get a lot of time to reflect upon what it is we do.(or at least I seem to be off to the next project as soon as I get the last one done).


Particularly to take a step back, breathe for a bit and take a look at the overall picture.  Our summers are not spent at the beach or the golf course, but with SAE's and Fairs; not relaxing on the porch, but tending to our chapters.  Taking a few moments to reflect on what we have done and what we still wish to accomplish is imperative to improving our craft.


My favorite Roosevelt quote is Sometimes the best prize life offers is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing.  It seems that Agriculture Education could be the poster child for that particular quote.  We often have plenty of projects on the back burner, and a few waiting in the wings to come out as soon as we think we have one challenge mastered.  I don't know why this seems to be the case with Ag Teachers, but we seem to be gluttons when it comes to taking on challenges.


While I am supervising a student teacher this spring,(see what I mean) I find myself working on all those "C" list projects that never gotten up too the plate during the regular part of the year.  It's a really different experience to finally get a chance to tackle those projects.  I secured some new lab tables / cabinets for my (mostly) unfurnished lab.  We are going to make some improvements that will make CASE and other scientific aspects of my courses exceptionally easy to do.  I can't believe it actually will come to fruition -- and actually, the hardest part is being patient because I want to teach in the improved facility NOW -- and none of that would have been possible if I hadn't been roaming around the school to give the student teacher some 'room' to 'earn her spurs' as the classroom teacher. (I am a horrible hover'er, because my main computer is in the classroom -- I'm practically tethered)  But since I was able to be 'out and about', some coversations and a couple coincidences happen to fall into place and 'viola' -- we have updates to my lab.


So, remember while your packing that schedule full and planning every moment of every day -- block some time for YOU!  Find that activity that keeps you enjoying life and refilling the energy level that it takes to be an Ag Teacher ---


Don't be afraid to sharpen the saw -- and remember -- if it were easy, everyone would do it.


Week #5 winner was Westwood FFA -- I'll try to get in contact since you aren't publishing an email. (another blog for another day)


Congratulations and thanks to everyone for playing along.


This week should have some great stuff going on as we burn feed for caloric content, pack our Altoona baskets, and have STATE CONVENTION on Thursday and Friday -- see what I mean about Ag teachers always having about 7 things jamming along at one time.


Later --

Kellie Claflin

CDEs and Camaraderie

Posted by Kellie Claflin Apr 3, 2011

This weekend was full of my favorite things – CDEs and camaraderie!


When I was in high school one of my favorite parts about FFA was heading to contests early in the morning and getting in some good bonding time with fellow FFA members and our FFA advisor. CDE’s also gave me the opportunity to experience a college campus and played a large part in my decision to attend UW-River Falls.


During college I was able to chair the dairy foods contest for two years, as well as coordinate the Ag Tech contest at UWRF, which hosts approximately 1000 students for 18 different contests every spring and Minnesota Region 8 contests in the fall. I loved giving students the opportunity to show off their knowledge ranging from agriculture mechanics to floriculture to wildlife through contests.


Saturday morning we loaded up the van and headed to the regional CDE contests. We had four teams competing – dairy cattle evaluation, dairy foods, horse evaluation and poultry. This was my first official trip with FFA members and I was excited to experience contests from an advisor’s standpoint. The morning was full of cool moments like listening to the poultry team members study all the way to contest, helping with the agronomy contest and talking with other ag teachers. April Fool’s Day came a day late as one of my fellow student teachers was able to pull off a couple pranks on a few of us unsuspecting friends. J


Saturday night I was able to spend some time with two of my very good friends and fellow student teachers sharing stories from the trenches. I feel so lucky to have such a great support system and to have that reminder that we’re not in this experience alone. It felt so nice to share observations about teaching with people that understood exactly where you are coming from.


As of last week, most of the UWRF student teachers have reached the half-way mark of our experience. It’s crazy how fast everything has gone and to realize how much I’ve grown over the past 9 weeks. The three of us commented on how we feel like we’re hitting our stride – we still have a lot of work to do, but it’s starting to feel more comfortable. We’re also looking toward the future as we start applying for positions and thinking about the balance between teaching and our personal lives.


One of the biggest reminders I need? That everybody has their ups and downs and nobody is perfect their first year out. In ag education we are so blessed with FANTASTIC teachers, but sometimes I forget that those teachers struggled a bit in those first few years and serve as great mentors for us that are still a little green behind the ears.


It’s that camaraderie between ag teachers, both young and old, that I love so much. I definitely enjoy my time in classroom engaging students, but the great support system and special bonds between those of us in the ag education family is simply amazing.



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