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Matt Eddy

Project: Why Not?

Posted by Matt Eddy May 27, 2011

Saying no has always been a challenge.  Someday, I suppose I will get around to working on that....


Projects fall out of the sky it seems and this was no exception.  We got involved with the city of Altoona's project to host an overnight stop of the RAGBRAI-- (for those who don't know - click the word.)  But in hindsight, the ability to play a very small part in this Herculean task is very satisfying and the students have been very receptive and excited to work on the project.


One of the small tasks from the Hospitality committee was to put some beautifying plants around the main areas that the masses of bike riders and support personnel would be frequenting.  After several ideas, we settled on these 'buckets'.  If your familiar with Kent Livestock Lick-Tubs - you might recognize them.  Thanks to Kent Feeds in Altoona donating us 80 tubs sans 'the lick part', and the Metro Waste Authority for the donation of the compost.

Ragbrai buckets 02.JPGRagbrai buckets 11.JPG


We then set about designing and filling these buckets with various plants in order to grow a beautiful pot of plants that can be distributed around town.

Ragbrai buckets 39.JPG

In 6 weeks or so, we will be able to set them out -- now if the weather will be as nice in July as it was putting them together in May.


Follow the fun and frivolity on twitter @AgEd4ME or #sepffa.


Later, ME

Matt Eddy

Why I'm a Twit...

Posted by Matt Eddy May 26, 2011

Not a self-aware confession, but I'm sure there are a few out there who would argue...


Why I'm in severe 'like' with TWITTER:

  1. Breaking news -- I hear stuff long before the paper / news channel etc.  and it seems that news services are Tweeting more information quickly, rather than posting online.  Welcome to the information age -- if you haven't arrived yet.... catch the next train.

  2. Opinions --  I like to hear opinions that I agree with.  I also like to hear opposing viewpoints.  I follow several people specifically because I disagree with almost every word they tweet and the premises behind them.  The first step to civilized discourse is to understand the issues at hand as fully as possible.  We can't move forward together if we don't talk together.

  3. PDP - it wasn't a reason to start, but a wonderful byproduct -- when I talk about stuff I have learned from other Ag Ed colleagues around the country - my admin get glassy eyed and start to drool.  Why have teachers stopped trying to learn?  I always figured that was the funnest part of the job.

  4. A recent blog that I recommended that we should read, read, read and write, write, write.  No better way to become as self-aware as we can about this profession that is in a constant state of flux.

  5. I'm sure there are plenty more, but on to the real reason I'm a Twit.  Here's some of the stuff I'm following.  If you are on Twitter, or join - and are looking to get started -- here are some goodies.  Buy me a Pepsi next time, if you like 'em.  If not, well ... caveat emptor.


Hashtags -- The twitter-verse's answer to conversations.

#agedu - A must for the discerning ag educator.  Ag Edu topics.

#agchat - A great thread for those interested in agriculture -- the entire spectrum of our great industry.  Some lively discussions can ensue, I think, partially because of farmers who have 'auto-drive' GPS.

#plant11 - Keep a running tab on how the crop planting season is going around the nation

#teachag - Also a great hashtag for those who enjoy agriculture education.


Blogs -- Just a few of what I am following

Dangerously Irrelevant - A technology / education related blog from Scott McCloud at Iowa State University - very interesting stuff to me.

RayLinDairy - a great blog from a dairy farmer. intriguing.


#FF - which in twitter terms means Friends to Follow - or something like that.









I couldn't begin to list them all, but these will get you started and as things go -- you'll find your way.


Best wishes and give me a shout if you make it to the {Twitter} neighborhood. ME

My teeth must know that I’m a wiser person now that I’m almost finished with my student teaching. Twenty-four hours after I crossed the stage at graduation, my wisdom teeth decided to try to make an appearance. Uff da.


Sunday on my drive back across Wisconsin from River Falls, I spent a lot of time thinking about wisdom - both the teeth and knowledge types. A couple weeks earlier during our FFA banquet, I was honored to be able to say the advisor’s part in opening ceremonies. Saying “here by the owl” for the very first time was a pretty neat experience. Even though I have been in the classroom and helping out with FFA activities since the end of January, it really set in that I’m an ag teacher. I think that opening ceremonies really does hold true, because I do “hope that my advice will always be based on true knowledge and ripened with wisdom.” Especially on those days when I feel like I’m not quite sure what end is up! Thankfully, those days are getting fewer and farther between, even though the day in the life of an ag teacher is never dull. It’s amazing to think about how much I’ve grown both in and out of the classroom. There have been good days, days when I think I’m crazy and days when I just can’t help but laugh.


The greenhouse class I am intern teaching (meaning that I have the class 100% by myself – no cooperating teacher) has made sure that I have learned a LOT over the past semester. And as much as they drive me up a wall, they are some of the greatest kids I’ve ever met. There ingenuity is really what amazes me day after day – especially as we’ve been working in the greenhouse. One of the major projects that the students took on was cleaning our aquaponics system since all the fish had died earlier in the year, or so we thought. About a week ago, after draining most of the water out of the tank, the students found a tilapia that was still alive. This poor tilapia made a tour of the school before finding a new home in a fish tank in the ag room. Sadly, our poor tilapia didn’t make it through the night and the next day in class I asked a couple of gentleman to dispose of our fish friend. By the end of class, the fish was buried in the back of the school complete with a cross that said, “Here lies the S.S. Minnow, Our beloved fish,” and flowers marking its grave.


Through all these experiences, the biggest piece of wisdom that I have gained is that there is always somebody wiser than you. I’ve been blessed with two wonderful cooperating teachers that support me and give me advice on teaching, interviews and life. I’ve also had great university supervisors and professors that remind me to not be so hard on myself and that I’m on the right path. I know that in my first years of teaching the biggest thing that I will need to great mentors and support. I’ll need somebody to listen to me vent and share their own experiences. It’s nice to have that reminder that great teachers didn’t just spring from the womb – they went through trials and tribulations too. (At least that’s what I’m hoping is true )



     Spring has sprung and my desk is scattered with a colorful, (organized) mess of post-it notes. Each note containing something that requires my attention; a be deadline to meet, a project to complete, a phone call to return, a purchase order to type, supplies to gather for a project, copies to be made, floral orders to be filled, a greenhouse hose to repair, SAE's to review and grade, invoices to pay, and_____________, ____________, and __________(you fill in the blanks, just look at some of the things on your desk). By the time I complete one task and remove the note, three more appear. I can barely see the wood tone color of my desk because of the piles of things to do and colorful squares to remind me to do them. (Sound familiar?)

      I consider myself to be an organized person but, during many times of the year I am coming and going in so many different directions and have so many things to do, it is difficult to remain focused and feel productive. Does anyone relate? If you are an AG teacher, I know, you know exactly what I am talking about. This is the life of an AG teacher. Constantly busy, always moving in different directions, going in early, working through lunch, and working long hours way beyond the sound of the bell that dismisses everyone else at the end of the school day. You have to love it!

     One suggestion, every now and then sit down to eat lunch, especially when you have a group of students in your classroom. Not only will it aid in the digestion process, it will give you a chance to relate to your students on a different level.  Pull yourself away from your computer or task at hand, sit with them, talk to them, show them how much you care by taking an interest in their sometimes crazy conversations and tastes in music and relax for a brief moment and enjoy your lunch! The Post-it notes will keep coming and going. With every note that I add or delete, I always try to remember the impact that I make on students every day as I open a new pack or new color and I keep plugging away. Welcome to a day in the life of an AG Teacher!

Wes Crawford

"Pace Yourself!"

Posted by Wes Crawford May 9, 2011

It's that time of year.  Granted in the world of agricultural education any time of year when the days end in 'y' is that time of year, but the decidedly busy month known as MarchAprilMayJune is moving right along.  Since March 1st, we Oregonians have seen State Convention, Oregon State University CDE Days, spring recruitment, scholarship deadlines, banquet preparation, about 6,000 CDE practices and their subsequent events, spring plant sales, market animal weigh-ins (just finished the pigs yesterday), and - by the way - five or six teaching preps a day.  And while experience brings notions of working smarter, not harder, the time saved in being more efficient is more than made up for by adding new tasks to the plate.  Never before has a seemingly innocuous bit of advice seemed so important:


"Pace yourself."


These two little words have never been more important than when the busiest get busy.  They come from a recently retired teacher in our district - Denny Quinby.  Mr. Quinby taught when I was in high school, and you had to get to know him to get him.  His favorite saying was "I hate kids.  That's why I teach."  This gruff looking ag teacher would make the smartest-mouthed high school boy hold his tongue.  Of course, if you spent much time around him you knew it was because of kids that he taught, and did so for 29 years in Elkton, Oregon - population 170.  In fact, one student even wrote him a letter upon graduation.  In it, she let him know:  "I know your secret Mr. Quinby - you really do like kids!"


Denny would often intone a reminder to use younger teachers - pace yourself.  At first I thought he was just talking about the long hours of socializing and catching up during summer conference.  But the more times he said it, I realized it had greater implications.  Sometimes we can get so caught up in what has to happen right now by next week before the month is over and we don't think about how we are managing the big picture.  The students we have today are not the only ones we will ever have - what about the next year's, or the year after that, or - in Denny's case - the students in 20 years whose parents he had in class as well?  Are we pacing ourselves for that?


I'll be honest - I haven't even considered the children of my current students (well, until I just wrote that last paragraph).  I am fantastic about throwing everything I've got to the moment at hand and keeping that pace as long as possible.  There was not a single day in March or April that I did not work oustide the classroom (never mind the hours in it!), according to my records.  But we all know of someone who did the 24/7 stint - and doesn't even teach anymore, maybe because of it.


Of course there's going to be times of the year that demand a great deal of our time - and we give it gladly.  But if you want to continue to enjoy this game we play then be sure to play it smart.  Pacing yourself doesn't mean you have to quit or take huge breaks (because, let's face it - it's not going to happen); it means we take care of our students, advise and teach and coach and prepare them for their potential -  and we do it in a way that ensures we can do it for many years of students.


So fellow ag teachers, keep up the good work!  Just remember - pace yourself.

Alright so it is May and as stated previously times are hectic, papers are piling up it is competitive team season, banquet season and fair season and oh ya the daily duties of the job never went away. I rely a great deal on my TA's and assignments that have keys or scantrons. If you have a lot of assignments to give make it easy on yourself and get some honest students that you can trust to help you out. You would still enter the grades but it is the actual grading that is so time consuming. I have also used peer grading techniques and sometime 2-3 weeks go by and things do pile up. Think of it this way - that pile can't grow legs, it's not going to walk away - it will still be there when you have time to get to it.


Don't sweat the small stuff - enjoy the kids and try not to stress out!

For the last 60 days we have been gearing up and gathering all of our Orange County Fair animals. Our fair is at the end of July. Our program continues to grow by leaps and bounds and nothing expresses it more than animal projects.  In the past I have only taken about 30 animals to the fair as a single teacher program. This past September we added a second ag teacher and involvement went nuts!  This year we are taking 30 pigs, 26 lambs, 4 steers, 6 turkeys, 3 market calves and multiple pens of broilers and meat rabbits.


In addition to these projects we also have over 200 laying hens all year around, some breeding sheep and goats, a beef heifer and we farm about three acres of land and are actively looking for more. Every time I tell people all that is going on I suddenly feel very exhausted! However, I agree with Matt - get on with it. This is what we do! It is exciting to see the students succeed!!!!!! That's what I live for!!!


Who needs hobbies or fun time anyhow Everyday on this job is fun - So get back to work because if you have free time you must be doing this ag teacher thing wrong


Gotta run - animals calling

Matt Eddy

Because they said so....

Posted by Matt Eddy May 4, 2011

I'm starting to wonder when the fun starts?


That thought was rolling around in my head as I was wrapping up my first year of teaching.  It wasn't that it was all that hard, it was the upheaval of going from a fairly normal college life to trying to live in the real world.  Also being the leader of a classroom of teenagers is probably the hardest thing in the world to do.  When they don't like you / what you are doing / or both -- life can't get much worse.  And in my first year -- I 'm pretty sure they didn't like me much at all.  Talk about upsetting the applecart -- I only stayed by sheer will and a dogged determination that I wouldn't let them win.  (and also, I wouldn't recommend the applecart process to all you student teachers out there.)


Older teachers, my own ag teacher, neighboring ag teachers -- all gave me sage advice -- and none of it sounded too good at the time.


4 years?  I wasn't waiting around in this Malthusian nightmare...; Give it some time -- Time?  I didn't have any.  LITERALLY.


I was a the ag department practically 24/7.  In fact, if they would have installed a shower, I wouldn't have needed my apartment.  Which is another thing that I probably wouldn't advise - renting an apartment that is 26 yards from the front door to your ag room.  It saves on gas, but is hard on the living.  For a large majority of the week / month - I would only see three buildings -- my apartment, my ag building (detached of course, not recommended as well) and the high school (for a very small percentage of the time, and even then felt like a visitor).


Not exactly what I had pictured when the college profs and others were chiming in with the 'Teach Ag' sales pitch ...


As I look back those 12 years ago, I begin to wonder..... How I didn't get out of this business a long time ago, I'll never know. (Too stupid to quit, is my choice) BUT on the plus side -- I'm having fun.... and that's probably worth the initial few years.


IF those sage advice givers were right all along, IF I just needed some trials and tribulations to give me some perspective.  (How can you know good times, if you haven't known bad?) -- I guess I'll never know.  But having the perspective I do now, I know that teaching Ag can be one of the most rewarding careers that there is.  It just takes some time to figure that out.  Really.


So -- Keep at it.  We've all been there, we've all done that --  some of us are even psychologically free of defects inspite of it.


AND - because I said so.

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