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In an effort to follow through on earlier promises, a few ideas come to mind when we talk about community.  One of the most valuable parts of being an ag teacher - and often unrecognized by those outside the profession - is the ag teacher community.

Yesterday our chapter and community played host to the Sectional Leadership Career Development Events - about a quarter of the state's chapters bring the top two speakers from their district in each CDE on to determine who will make the top eight slate at the Oregon FFA State Convention in March.  It's natural to slip right back into conversations, jokes, debates, and comraderie with teachers who haven't been seen since the last state event, NAAE Convention, or maybe not even since the August State Fair.  It's easy to pick up - both the conversation, and the companionship.

It's both a benefit and testament to our profession that these relationships are the norm.  There's no secret to becoming part of it:  all you have to do is show up, listen a bit, share what's new with you, and before you know it you'll realize that 1) I'm not the only one with that [fill-in-the-blank] situation, 2) these people are hilarious and all they're drinking is coffee, and 3) the demands of ag ed are easier to handle when you are working with others, instead of trying to do it on your own.

Another way to be involved is to contribute - be part of your professional organization leadership.  Take ownership of being an ag teacher by seeking a role in your state association or even beyond.  It's a way to reconnect yourself as well as take your turn in serving your colleagues.

I invite you to get a bit of insight into our community here in Oregon - check out our state newsletter.  It's not fancy, but it does have plenty of things that apply to you and the teachers in your area, not just those of us on the West Coast. Check out the latest issue of Old Yeller (theme: SAE), as well as a few past ones, by visiting  You'll find best practices, professional development help, curriculum resources, some current events, cheesy humor, and more.

Besides, as the OVATA Newsletter Editor, I'd like to think someone is reading it. 

Reader Response:  you know what to do!  Confirm the Ag Ed community in the comments!

We have all been there, you are doing paperwork and lookup and it’s already 6, 7, 8 o’clock and there is still an application that needs to be completed or lesson plans need to be written. This isn’t a onetime thing but it happens monthly or even weekly to some teachers. After a while, you realize that you are spending more time focused on training CDEs, doing SAE visits, and paperwork than you are at home. A recent study showed that 1 in 5 teachers are Gen Y (30 or younger). These Gen Y teachers are 51% more likely to quit the profession within 5 years of starting and 91% more likely to transfer to different schools than older teachers. I am a Gen Y teacher and I am one of those 91% who have already transferred schools once in my 4 years of teaching. I transferred in district to be happier. That being said, the first thing my supervisor told me when I was hired back in 2008 was to put my family first. This was after my college advisor, who was a former Ag Teacher, and another fellow Ag Teacher told me the same thing. With multiple people telling me this, I figured it was important.



Until recently, I have had no problem putting family first. We recently had our first child and with that, I have started working on my masters. I found myself struggling to train CDE teams, work with students on applications, complete school paperwork, and spend time with my family. When I started teaching, I made it my goal not to train students during class time and found myself thinking how much easier it would be if I did. So I contacted some other teachers for some of their sage advice. What I got was some sage advice and some paprika. This is the advice they gave to help prevent burnout. I know from data that other teachers are struggling with burnout but may not be searching for ways to help it. I hope these tips will help.



1st -Set boundaries- Set a reminder on your phone or computer that pops up every day to tell you to wrap it up to make it home. Talk with your family about what time would be best and come to a compromise. If students contact you, tell them that after 5, it is family time do not contact me with questions unless it is important.



2nd-Ask yourself why you are training 10 different CDEs. Are you doing it to stroke your ego and win banners or because the kids want to? Come up with an answer that will make you and your family the happiest. Your frustration with work will show up at home. 



3rd-We are teachers; therefore, a curriculum will suit students better than just training for one CDE after another. Our purpose is to give students a well rounded education, not just skills in Forestry and Nursery/Landscape After all, CDEs are supposed to be extension of classroom instruction.



4th – Allow your students to take ownership of their CDEs. With the internet, students can now study more on their own. If they want to win, they will study and work for it. You still have to give guidance, but they are capable of more than most teachers/parents think they are.



5th-Buy a planner – Use it like your bible, write down notes, to do lists, and other important info. Sit down with your family and plan out the week. It sounds bad, but schedule family time if you have too, they are more important than your job. 427003_834945006848_49705287_35991523_1672168690_n.jpg

Matt Eddy

I'm gonna get shot...

Posted by Matt Eddy Feb 14, 2012

...either way.


After observing the fire (tweet / video) storm that followed the airing of the Chipotle commercial during the Grammies, I was trying to figure out exactly what the fervor was all about.


I've watched several retort videos from ag groups.  I'm starting to wonder why we are barking at each other - aren't we the different sides to the same coin?  Aren't we both working to feed people?


For those who live under a rock without Social Media:



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Ohio Pork producers


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I really think that the free market will eventually sort out the future direction of agriculture.  IF100% of consumers bought into the local, grassfed, organic movement we would need some 4 million more farmers.  I see a real opportunity for Agriculture Education in that figure.  Who will educate all these new farmers??  WE will.


With a world population rising in exponential numbers, we will continue to need to raise more and more food.  I don't see the conventional production practices going away anytime soon either. (Although a precipitous rise in diesel fuel might make that happen faster than anyone wants to admit - but I digress).


Seems paradoxical ...  doesn't it.    If you haven't seen the documentary American Meat I would suggest it.  I had the opportunity to screen the movie at my school with producers, students and community members and the filmmaker participated right along with us.  The conversations were priceless.  This conversation in agriculture is a real one - and I don't believe that it will go away.


I don't find Chipotle is attacking modern agriculture, but they are providing for a niche market and also providing a market for small producers.  McDonalds is moving to end gestation crates -- are they just reacting to consumer demand?  This is a complicated issue and one that is best approached genuinely by both sides with open lines of communication.  After all, we are trying to reach the same end.


Agvocate = opening the lines of communication and finding common ground -- not lamblasting the other side with why your 'right'.


I'm not sure I can, with good conscious, find that either video is 'right' -- but there is definitely a war of PR going on. Before you pull the trigger on the good vs bad gun -- realize that both sides have plenty of ammo and apparently aren't afraid to use it.


Can't we all just get along??



And for the record - musically Willie blew Coldplay out of the water with his cover.  Just sayin'

Hi CoP family,


Wow, how the month of January flew by!  As soon as the semester began, I, along with 18 other UF teacher ed students, began a 3-week long on-campus visit, nicknamed "the block".  From 8am- 5pm each day we wrote lesson plans and spent a good amount of time learning various teaching techniques from professors inside and outside of our department.  I am beginning to think it is called the block because by the end of it, I had filled my brain with so much information, it was as heavy as a concrete block! ;D


As the block ended, we ventured to the Florida Leadership Training Center, where we spent two jam-packed days with fellow FAAE members.  I presented several lesson plans and ideas and was given great feedback on how to improve and develop them.  One of the highlights of the conference was spending time with such passionate individuals and beginning to feel what it will feel like when I start teaching at a Florida middle or high school.


As the weekend ended, I began preparing for Monday, my first day on-site at Union County High School in Lake Butler, FL.  I am currently 3 days in and have been preparing for this coming Monday, Feb. 6th, in which I will pick up my Agriscience Foundations 1 class.  We will begin with a natural resources unit and I am so pumped to teach my students about the true foundation of agriculture! So far I have helped some students create bulletin boards for the computer lab and Mrs. Imler's class, visited with one of students who I am helping mentor their SAE project, and attended my first faculty meeting, which involved my principal updating teachers on upcoming events in the school.


That's all for now folks!


Cacee   a.k.a. Ms. Ford ;D

It’s absolutely true – I hate snow days.

Where we reside in Western Oregon, elevation 500’, our school districts quail at the forecast of 1” of snow – not exaggerating.  The chance of accumulation prompts a two hour delay at least in some parts of the county.  In contrast, in Eastern Oregon 2” of snow is good golf weather.  Just depends where you are from.

But I don’t dislike snow days because of the snow.  It’s the fact that I don’t have the time for a snow day.  It seems like I’m behind where I want to be by the third day of the school year anyway, so missing a day in this season of semester finals, leadership CDE’s, proficiencies, FFA Week, and more just doesn’t work.  I have too much to do!

Much to the chagrin of some of our staff, we have been without a delay or day-off this year.   Thank goodness.  With finals behind us last week, and a new term now, we are looking district proficiencies in the eye for tonight, Job Interview CDEs at the same time, prepping a few dozen kids for parliamentary procedure and speaking events next week, with just enough time for planning an FFA Week there for the end of February – that should keep the home crowd busy for a while.  Try to get that done around snow days!


My discrepancies with other teachers don’t end there.  Another mid-winter item would definitely be the speed in which Spring Break approaches.  To most, it is the mirage in the distance.  However, when your FFA State Convention occupies the opening weekend of spring break, it arrives well before you are ever ready.  It never fails that you don’t have enough prep time for practicing speeches, polishing applications, or preparing presentations.  Nothing seems to slow down the pace.

But you can always look to the flipside – you do make it through the snow season that much faster.

Matt Eddy

Much too Young...

Posted by Matt Eddy Feb 1, 2012

... to feel this dang old.


It seems that the years all run together after a while and I can't seem to differentiate between them.  "We already did this...?" "Have I told you (class) about ...?" "Which period is this?"


January and February seem to be a bit harder than most when it comes to maintaining your bearings.  All the awards, degrees, programs, activities, planning -- oy.  And then teach a few classes in the down time between 8 and 3.


We took 30 kids to the Iowa Pork Expo last week -- they hold a judging contest that has some good learning stations incorporated as well.  Most of my students have little ag or PIG background, but we still had a couple in the top 15 of the contest. Go figure.  It is also nice for them to mingle in the trade show and get a real feel for how encompassing the pork industry is in our state - since we lead the nation.  Invariably I have students comment about how they never knew 'such and such' company was related to pork production.  Which is good exposure, IMO.  You never know where the next job offer may come from.


Pork Expo 43.JPG

Legis Symp 08.JPG


This week, aside from Iowa Tests (Standardized testing two days), our Legislative Symposium (above), we have our District FFA review night for Iowa Degree's, proficiencies, officer books, and District Officer interviews on Thursday.  Whew.  Cap it off with the District Wrestling tournament on Friday and you have a busy week.  Oh yeah -- also preg check the Animal Learning Center cows (below) , castrate, vaccinate and wean calves and send them to sale too. 


ALC - Preg Check 41.JPGALC - Preg Check 179.JPG



What day is today again??? 


To sleep would be best, but I just can't afford to rest

Io-wa Degree's are due tonight... (sorry Garth)


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