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I spent this summer teaching an online class and visiting students who were working on their Internship requirements - talk about a contrast! The online class is "Landscape Estimating" and is all about how to determine costs, develop bids, understand how to manage costs to be competitive and how to operate professionally. Because there are no pre-requisites for it, I will often  get a mix of students ranging from those who are well along in their program of study with us to those who just need 3 credits in a business class. So you can understand why I was pleased to get the following message from a graphic design major taking the class:

"This was a very educational project, and involved me getting out and doing things/talking to people I wouldn't have otherwise been in contact with. It was very enjoyable." She was referring to an assignment (one of 7 they must complete in 5 weeks) that requires the student to determine what it costs to operate equipment and vehicles. My response to her message? - a resounding "YES!" because all too often in this electronic technical age our students seem to avoid personal contact - they text and tweet and friend but good old fashioned conversation seems to be the last thing on their mind. Call me a dinosaur but nothing beats a face-to-face conversation. When you develop an online course you make every effort to find ways to engage the students in the subject, to force them to do more than just sit at a computer - and sometimes the first few efforts do not work so you rewrite and rework and try again the next semester - and it does feel good when you do - finally - get it right! (Others in the course expressed the same or similar feelings to me so I knew it wasn't an anomaly)


The Internship course is a completely different experience. All of our students must spend at least one semester completing their cooperative internship requirement - and this summer I served as Co-op supervisor. That meant I got to visit all of them on the job, meet their bosses, see what projects they were involved with - and it is always fun. The bosses love to show off as well and since our program has been around for 31 years we have placed students with most of the employers in the area (which covers about 10 counties in northern and central New Jersey) - and by now a good percentage of the employers are graduates of our program. While I was pleased with all of our placements this summer, one in particular will always stand out. A young man who came to us a little later than most (he's 27 and the father of a 10 year old son) has been in our program for the past year and proven himself to be an excellent student, highly motivated and hard working. As the year went on I learned about his son and about the two jobs he worked to make ends meet. We recommended him for a job with an outstanding County Park Commission to work at a botanical garden - one of the best in northern New Jersey. He was on the job 3 days when he emailed me to say " I LOVE this job! It's the best job I ever had and please come visit me soon so I can show you what I am doing!" I couldn't resist and instead of waiting a week or so as I usually do to allow the student to get settled in a position I went the next day (his fourth on the job).   His boss cornered me as soon as I got out of my truck, shook my hand and said "Thank you for sending Qwamine to us! He is wonderful!" He directed me out into the garden where Qwamine was busy mucking weeds out of a pond. It had to be 95 degrees with 100% humidity and awful bugs around that pond - but there stood Qwamine, big grin on his face, loving every minute of it! I asked what he had learned so far - remember it was only his fourth day - and he started a list that went on and on - I think he had memorized every word they had said to him in those 3 and a half days. Talk about someone finding themselves - clearly this young man has!


These are the reasons we do what we do  - the long hours, the travel to events, the early mornings and weekends spent in a greenhouse or barn, putting up with administrators who don't understand what we do, hopig our families do understand what we do - you all know what I mean. And just when we start to question what we do, along comes a student like Qwamine! If you are an experienced teacher you have had this exact same experience many times in your career - and if you are a new teacher - you will have it! As I look back on 34 years of teaching agriculture and ahead to a new adventure (a farm and "retirement") I can honestly say that its the Qwamines I remember - the good times and students who, whether they were straight "A's" or "C's" really found themselves - and maybe their success was due in some small way to some guidance I provided. Or maybe their success was due to me being smart enough to stay out of their way! Either way its been a great run!

Faithful readers I must say the years just keep going by faster and faster. From spring break to end of the year banquets, then on to fireworks sales and fairs in sunny California the year has flown by and looking back I have a few reminders.


  • Live each moment to the fullest

  • Enjoy your students - remember this job is a gift

  • Stay organized - this may keep you sane

  • Find the balance between work, family and time for yourself


I was recently at a teachers conference where I heard a guest speaker remind us that we have the power to teach our students about manners, responsibility and service. We must do this in our daily classes. He reminded us that students are taught these things in kindergarden and elementary grades and then we move on to standards and testing and leave these basic concepts behind. This year I am going to challenge myself to create an environment where students are constantly reminded of the ideals that make us successfull, well-rounded, GOOD human beings. I challenge you to do the same, before society gets to overrun with cell phones, ipods and a complete lack of one on one communication.


Remind students - everything in life is about choices. Good choices, bad choices and THEIR choices. Everything comes down to a choice.


Happy blogging and good luck in whatever your future holds.


Jessica Fernandes

Buena Park High School

Matt Eddy

Where did June go?

Posted by Matt Eddy Jul 6, 2011

I can't believe it's after July 4th already.  Time surely does fly when your having fun.


My June was a blur of activity -- welcomed my 3rd child into the world, cleared my lab room for renovation, students participated in several CDE events (Iowa holds them on different dates in June), taught a CASE AFNR institute at the FFA Enrichment Center for 23 participants (20 from Iowa), and attended our IAAE summer conference. Phew.


Luckily I have a slow week this week.  Just a couple Ag Ed family meetings and my lab renovation starts next week - slow.  Almost every ag teacher has a busy summer like me and I have to restrain myself when people ask "So are you enjoying your summer off?"


After we get thru next week, County Fair rocks my socks, my Advanced Animal Science SUMMER LAB course begins and we hit State Fair and our participation with the ALC project.  And the day after that wraps up - school starts again with students on Monday.... Phew.  I can't wait for September and the pace of 'regular school'.


Enjoy some photo's from our CASE AFNR institute.

CASE AFNR 2011 Day 6 23.JPGCASE AFNR 2011 Day 6 27.JPG

CASE AFNR 2011 Day 6 110.JPG




CASE AFNR 2011 Day 6 89.JPG


As always - follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME  - I will also trend the ALC happenings at #ISFALC11 or #sepffa

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