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.