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Matt Eddy

The Gate Rule

Posted by Matt Eddy Sep 19, 2011

Growing up on a cattle farm always had its adventures.  From fixing watergaps to calving excitement, it was always a place of activity.  And why did it always seem that when you have something to do in town on... say Saturday night... that working cows always takes 10x longer than you think.  And if there were no plans in town... it took no time at all??  But I digress...


The Gate rule around our ranch was "Leave it like you found it" .   Driving down the road one day in my youthful days, I found one of our gates open.  Fearing it had been forgotten, I closed it.  And then got reprimanded because my uncle had to get out of the tractor when he returned with the next load of hay because he had to re-open it.  I guess the "Leave it like you found it" rule keeps you from doing harm or creating more work for others.  It also takes a fair amount of personal responsibility when working with people to always remember to finish the job at hand and trust that others will do the same.


Some times I wonder if teaching we get so busy taking care of OUR responsibilities, we forget to try and help others as much as we should.  Sometimes in the midst of trying to 'do no harm', we forget that unless we get involved - not much changes.


The University student teaching list just came out and as I look at all of the potential student teachers out there and all of the programs that they are going to travel to, I hope that as cooperating teachers, we will be able to impart upon them some of our experience, tricks and tips, and some of the other aspects that it takes to become a successful Agriculture Educator.  We need these students to fill our ranks as the heavy percentage of older ag teachers in our state, and most likely our nation, prepare to retire.  I have had several student teachers and find that each has been as good for my professional growth as I hope that their experience in the profession has been for them.


And I think that in some respects, I want to teach them NOT to 'Leave it like you found it' but rather to get involved and make some good things happen.


Some of my student teachers in all their glory!


2011 District FFA 30.JPGHorticulture 11.JPGState FFA Convetion 09 132.JPG


Follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME


Please share any great stories of your cooperating teacher - how did they help you?

Yet another school year has already begun, and while the seniors have already begun acting like seniors and the freshmen are as wide-eyed as ever, some things never change.  In the case of what sometimes comes out of their mouths, or on to their papers, the entertainment value never stops.  Some highlights from the past year of test taking:


     Question:  Why do we study plant science in agricultural science?
     Response:  “So that way when the government finally goes down we’ll all be able to survive individually and grow our own food.”


     Question:  Why do we crack, grind, or steam grains?
     Response:  “I’m not sure but I’ll get back to you.”


     Question:  Name five methods used in managing livestock discussed in class.
     Response:  “#5 -  Love them”


If you want to see how much kids have changed in the last few years, just look at what they write when they don’t know the answers.


    IDK.  4 alot.  Lol.  K?

And then there is the wonderful spontaneous comments and questions:


     "Why do I always get stuck with the speaking?  I think it's a sign I never shut up."  No comment.

     "Why are we arguing where Europe is?  This isn't geometry class."   Think about it.

     "Isn't charolais a type of wine grape?"  If it is, I wouldn’t drink it.

     "It has two cameras so you can do video chat."
         "With your face?"
     "Yes, with your face."


And yes, sometimes we even make our own quotable quotes.  Such as this personal gem from last year’s animal science class:


     "This will tell you and me if you are getting the terminology down, because if you aren't this is all going to sound like Greek to you, which is bad because it's actually Latin."


Awesome.   Here’s to another great year.



READER RESPONSE:  Put down your favorite quotables in the comments!

Matt Eddy

Why I blog,

Posted by Matt Eddy Sep 3, 2011

and twitter, and facebook, and most whatever else comes along to tell the story of Agriculture Education.


I don't like it.




Okay - the technology part is fun.  My phone is fun to play with, I dig computers, and this Twitter thing really tweeks my melon; but....


I'm probably similar to a lot of ag teachers in that I really don't enjoy the spotlight much.  Just like turning the soil -- making a good pass isn't the goal -- making a field of them is.  And a job done well is it's own reward - I know when I've done well - the proof is layed out before me in my students and in my program.


I enjoy being behind the curtain, silently enjoying the fruits of my labor.  And if called upon, a small tip of the cap is really all I really want to do to acknowledge what small and insignificant (or huge and meaningful) part that I may or may not have played in the recent happenings.


I realize that teaching is a profession where we can profoundly impact people, and the smallest things can make the biggest impacts... but isn't it just 'all in a days work'?  I'm just trying to do my best, all day - every day; and if things go well -- well, that's how it's supposed to work.  If it doesn't, we reset the plow and try to do better tomorrow.


and that's why I blog, and twitter, and facebook....


Someone needs to tell the story -- my story, my students' stories, the stories of the Ag Department and the good things that we are doing for kids that make a difference in their educational future and their future in life.  And it's the one thing that I don't necessarily like to do.  Maybe it's the agricultural roots... you don't wait at the end of a furrow for applause; you turn the plow around, evaluate, and make the next pass....


As I embark on another year of "Day in the LIfe of an Ag Teacher", I encourage you to take a moment from the 'labor and tillage of the soil' and it's youth to 'agvocate' for your program, your students, your profession and yourself.  IF WE don't tell the story of our Ag Ed Programs -- who will?



The past three blogs have been from Jenny Lichty, a graduate student at Iowa State University, who along with Dr. Michael Retallick have been working on a project bringing Ag into the classroom in the Virgin Islands.  Some folks just get all the luck. I offered to tote their bags for them, but they weren't in need of my services.  You can follow them @jlichty30 or @msretallick


August 31, 2011 P.M.


I can think of a lot of ‘E’ words right now to define our ‘little’ hike today. It took me a little convincing to even do the hike as I didn’t bring any shoes that I wanted to get wet or dirty. That should have been my first clue. But in the end I was excited and exhausted and definitely entertained on this hike of ours.


St. John’s is approximately 8.5 miles long from east to west. Hills are an understatement for the Virgin Islands. So what we would call a valley is referred to as a ‘gut’ here. Our adventure was a hike through the gut of St. John’s island beginning at the lower campus or elementary of Gifft Hill School. To get to the gut from here, you have to bushwack through about 100 yards of vegetation, including ‘catch and keep’ plants (thorny plant that will get caught in your skin and if you try to remove it in the opposite direction that it entered, be ready for some serious lacerations) and the Christmas bush (another thorny plant that is dark green in color and the tips turn red toward the holidays). We were also warned about some crazy wasp-like insects that will attack if their hive is interrupted at all. After stepping five feet into our ‘path’ I was almost ready to turn around and regret the idea of going but I toughed it out (that and I don’t think Mike would have let me turn around).

After 40 minutes we finally made it to the creek/stream/moving water that runs along the gut (yes, 40 minutes to cover 100 yards).  Along the way we also decided to pick up trash we found. Four trash bags may seem small at the beginning but these bags quickly filled (with either trash or the water I kept dragging mine through). The first half was not bad; shallow stream, little altitude change and few mosquitos. Our guide, Miles, and National Park representative, Laurel were more than helpful to point out different plants and creatures along the way. It was easy going for awhile… until we got to the waterfall. Pretty sight, not so pretty to navigate down.


We were able to take a quick swim in a pond below the waterfall and eventually made it down the rocky structure where we thought ‘oh, tough part is over’. Boy, were we wrong.  The remainder of the hike we did a lot of deciding between two or even three paths and debated (and found out) just how deep some of the areas were. Three and a half hours later, we finally made it to our end point.  Chris, a middle school teacher at Gifft Hill, and I were the first to make it out. Arriving at our destination earlier than everyone else required keeping in motion to prevent more mosquito bites. It also meant staying loose because once we hoped in the truck to return to the school the soreness set it. Let’s just say I probably won’t be moving too much too early tomorrow!



Linley, Karie and I had the opportunity to go to town by ourselves as Jen and Mike went out to eat with one of the major donors of Gifft Hil. This was our first experience without having someone who has been here before chauffeuring us around. Because I volunteered the information that I am directionally inclined, I also volunteered myself to drive. If I haven’t mentioned this, you drive on the left side of the road in the islands. I thought it was a little weird to get used to being a passenger, it’s a completely different story when you have to drive. We made it to town safely and found the public parking lot after taking one wrong turn. A quick walk up the street to the Iguana Bar & Grille where we indulged in very American food… cheeseburgers! After the day we had, I don’t know if anything else would have been so good. And the good news, we made it back safely.


Today’s blog was brought to you by the letter ‘E’ for excited, enthusiasm, and exhausted!  With that I’m heading to bed with hopes to find an ‘I drove on the wrong side of the road – USVI’ sticker tomorrow.

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