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During my recent trip to Washington, D.C., I visited the Library of Congress and countless other historical places surrounding it.  It was my first time ever visiting the nation’s capitol and bringing to life all of the historical landmarks I learned about growing up.  For me, it was a whirlwind to see so many beautiful and meaningful sites in one, short day.  My mind was needless to say on overload.  One of the most memorable parts of my trip was the plaque I found in the Library of Congress.  There were actually many plaques surrounding the roof of the main room.  But, the one I found was very special.  It was inscribed with the words,


“The Foundation of Every State is the Education of Its Youth.”


To some people, that plaque may not have meant much.  But, to me and I can guarantee you any individual passionate about education in any capacity, would be moved by it.  It made me realize that education has and will always be critical to our great nation.  No matter what controversy, issue, problem, or plight, most anything can be resolved with the use of education.  I will never forget how inspired I became after viewing that plaque and how motivated it made me to always be an educator.


I find it quite ironic that the previous story happened to me during the time that it did.  You see, unlike most of my fellow bloggers, I am not yet an agriculture teacher.  I am a senior student in the Agricultural Education and Communication Department at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.  I will student teach in the spring of 2012 at Union County High School in Lake Butler, Florida and will graduate with my B.S. in Agricultural Education and Communication with a specialization in Education and a minor in Soil and Water Science at the end of the spring semester.  I am also the UF chapter Collegiate FFA President and a most recent communications intern with NAAE.  I am indeed a very busy student.  But, nonetheless, I, like 99% of all women in the world, love to talk and it is my hope that this blog will help me use my voice, or thoughts rather, to promote agricultural education and help give the viewpoint of teacher-education students to others. 


Another ironic point of my first blog is that I am writing to you from the plane headed to St. Louis for the NAAE Convention.  Having flown two other times already this semester I have been surprised to meet an abundance of folks, who are uninformed of agriculture’s impact on their daily lives and therefore, agricultural education’s role.  Yet again, my “gift to gab” comes through for me and I hope that I have at least left my “flight buddies” with at least one fact that has altered their viewpoint from misinformed to informed. 


To end this first entry, I would like to simply note that at this point in time, I feel prepared to take on all the unknown that it out there in regards to teaching.  With the end of the fall semester nearing, I feel my professors and awesome PhD instructors, have prepared me as much as possible for student teaching.  I am ready and excited to interact with, as they like call it, “live ammo”.  I hope to spend my Christmas break drafting and tweaking lesson plans for my Agriscience Foundations 1 course and Food Science Applications 2 & 3 courses.  And I look forward to telling you in the next entry all about them.


Thank you sincerely for taking time to read this.  Go You!


~Cacee A. Ford





Hello From Louisiana

Posted by Josh Dahlem Nov 29, 2011

I am Josh Dahlem and have been privileged enough to be asked to participate in this blog over the next year. This is my 4th year teaching and 3rd at my current school, Stanley High School in Logansport Louisiana. We are a very rural school district in Northwest Louisiana that has reaped the benefits of the oil and natural gas boom. With this money, our district has purchased Ipads for ever freshman and enacted various other programs including planning a new Career Tech Center. At Stanley, we have 376 students in Pre-K-12 and I currently run between 40 and 50 students a semester through my program. The FFA chapter currently has 35 members.



During the past 4 years,2011-11-04_13-50-44_866.jpg I have been trying to change the mentality of the ag programs I have been involved with to not just be a shop class. I am currently a CASE Plant Science Lead Teacher and implement the curriculum throughout my various classes. Since our biggest industry is the oil field, many of my students graduate and go straight to work. For these students, I concentrate on building skills for them to excel in the career they choose because, as we know, not every student is college material but will still make a positive impact on society. Our biggest event each year is the state fair, yet this was the first year I have had a student show animals. We construct projects for the Ag mechanics Show and Auction and compete in various other mechanics contests at the fair. The money received from these projects goes back to the students.



Over the next year I hope to showcase a little bit of my program and highlight this great profession we all take part in.

Wes Crawford

Community, Part I

Posted by Wes Crawford Nov 14, 2011

The word ‘community’ can take a lot of different meanings, especially to those of us in agricultural education.  Three definitions come to mind:
1)     The community we teach and live in; a vital part of an agriculture education program.
2)    The teacher community we share with our fellow ag educators; a crucial part of surviving and thriving in this profession (and sometimes surviving definition #1)
3)    Ecological term my agricultural biology students used the other week

Well, seeing how I can’t think of anything terribly exciting or reader-worthy for the third option, we’ll stick with doors #1 and #2 for the next couple posts.  I’ll start with the first, as next week I will be at the NAAE Convention in the shadow of the St Louis Arch, and I’m sure there will be at least a story or two concerning our teacher community there (whether or not I’ll be able to write about it is another matter).


We could all list a dozen ways our students and programs contribute to the community; many school groups can.  However, where agriculture education takes a lead over others is by incorporating community into the instruction and experience of our students.  Whether it is as SAE placement mentors, CDE judges or coaches, great field trip experiences, guest speakers, Alumni members, nominating committee interviewers, or 'just' a great resource for your curriculum, community infuses a vital and irreplaceable component into our programs.


We have several examples of that here in our school.  This past year was a testament to community as our Alumni took on the project of replacing our old greenhouse, which had long since seen the end of its scheduled useful life.  The work of a few people with the right talents and skills leveraged several other organizations and foundations, and the result is a $65,000 project that is top-notch for our students to learn in and use.  All possible, especially in the economic times we find ourselves in, because of community.


Community was also key this past week for the continued personal and professional growth of my advanced animal science juniors and seniors.  They are smack dab in the middle of agricultural sales and service, and being of an older age, the expectations have grown.  Many of these students are Intro to Ag Science (Ag I) graduates, so have some experience with the basic skills (sales is one of the very few topics I will go into twice – once with the basics, and as they get older with a lot more detail).  In fact, 10 of them enjoyed being on the other side of the sales table for a period and came in to my freshmen classes this year to serve as customers for sales presentations, and gave feedback and scores – necessary leverage, as there is no way I could do presentations with the 34 students in first period by myself and be done by Thanksgiving, let alone in one day!


It’s easy to bring in a senior to work with a freshman, but what do you do for the senior then?  In order to have my advanced students develop a ‘felt-need,’ I let them know early that their audience would be someone who was not in the classroom.  Have you ever seen the looks on 30 faces when 30 hearts all skip a beat as realization sinks in?  In all the things I do, this exercise seems to always lead to the most anxiety – and that is perfect preparation for all the ‘real’ things they are getting ready to do:  college interviews, job applications, and more; things that don't have second chances to make first impressions.  They don’t get to find out who their audience is until they walk into class presentation day, and the nerves are fantastic.  It wouldn’t be possible without community – the local tire dealership manager, the drugstore owner, the local insurance agent, the past mayor, and more provide an audience that puts the polish on better than a ‘regular’ presentation in front of their classmates ever could.  No student has ever not been ready this day of presentation – I wish I could say that for all my classes!


Our programs are unique because of the interaction that happens between us and our communities.  In just the next month we will see canned food drives, light parades, and redesigning the landscaping behind the senior center.  Plenty of community to utilize and work together with for student success.



READER RESPONSE:  Share in the comments how your community is a valuable part of your ag program!

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