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Jessie Lumpkins

All Members in Unison:

Posted by Jessie Lumpkins Oct 31, 2012

National FFA Convention is what turned the switch on for me. When the house lights in Freedom Hall came up in 2002 and I recited with thousands of other FFA members in the same blue jacket the words: "To practice brotherhood, honor agricultural opportunities and responsibilities, and develop those qualities of leadership, which an FFA member should possess," knew my four years wouldn't be enough. After being honored to speak at the 5th Session at the 85th National FFA Convention with McKenzie Becker and Mike Miron for NAAE, I hope you'll indulge me for this post as I persuade young people to join the profession; or at the very least, remind each of us why we do the job we do.

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To Practice Brotherhood ...

Just I do every year at National Convention, I noticed the bond between my students grow closer during our time in Indy last week. How could it not when we had to catch 5:30am buses and squeeze too many people to mention into a small Mercury SUV?  My students made new friends and cheered for old ones. This is the first year we didn't compete in a CDE at Nationals since I've been an advisor, but it didn't mean we weren't rooting for every Tennessee team there.  I love the flurry of excited texts when someone else advances to the final four or makes it past pre-lims- students whom they may not have shared a classroom with, but are no less friends and fellow FFA members. Not only were they supporting other FFA members, but they were courteous and helpful to everyone we met along the way in Indy.What other career allows you to create kind and compassionate young people in such a way?


Honor Agricultural Opportunities and Responsibilities ...

We of course saw our fair share of sessions and the career show and expo. We were lucky enough to also work the first shift in the Rally to Fight Hunger as well. During the shift, my chapter president was interviewed by the local Indy 6 News. Without any preparation at all, she delivered a flawless and wonderful interview, in part due to her placing 2nd in the Job Interview CDE at state this year. As we walked into our hotel room to change, we flipped on the TV and just happened to see her, on a TV 300 miles away from home. What other career creates opportunities for students long after they've left your classroom?



And Develop Those Qualities of Leadership...

Leadership can be navigating the group to Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indy. Leadership is taking charge of the group to determine dinner plans. Leadership is seeing the student feeling a little left out and saying, "What booths would you like to visit in the career show?" We'd all like to hope that one day the leaders we developed will be the face of Fortune 500 companies, but isn't it just as amazing to develop a leader who can simply make others around them feel comfortable, validated and welcomed? Let's face it - they won't all be CEOs, but they will all be in situations where someone needs validation and to be welcomed. Those small things are what add up the big things. What other career lets you teach the small things?



Which an FFA Member Should Possess ...

Even on those days ... the ones where we wonder if Wal-Mart greeter should be a career option ? it always gets better. On the last day of convention, one of my newer members had an... explosion. He said he didn't want his FFA jacket, that he hated FFA, and that he had an awful time on the trip. Of course my heart hurt for a little while and I spoke with him about why I wanted him to attend, and hoped in the future he could open himself up to growth. Then I let him cool off and hours later he pulled me aside. "My mom always taught me to count my blessings, and you're definitely one of them. I just had anger built up before the trip and I took it out here. I love FFA and I definitely don't want to quit. I've never had a teacher care about me so much. I'm sorry." I'm glad in a way that this student let out his anger so that he can release it and allow the experiences he'll have in FFA to help him "grow." What other career so directly influences positive growth of young people?

Yes we teach facts, statistics, methods, skills and those are important. I'm sure my students gained technical, tangible information while at convention as well, and I love that aspect of my job. But the part that keeps me coming back after my feet are blistered, I've had four hours of sleep in a strange bed, I've heard harsh words, I've endured the city bus for four days and I'm pretty sure I'm getting sick... is the knowledge that because of something I've done, there are young people with a positive outlook on their future, who know (in a time when there is so much hopelessness among teenagers) that they are valued, and who will be pillars of their communities and possibly of their entire generation.

Are you being called to do the same? When will you be tagged?

All of you that attend the National FFA Convention are probably not surprised I didn't find any time to blog on Days 4 or 5.  Frankly - the Monday after convention should be an agricultural education holiday.  Monday after convention is always a tough-it-out day.  Or at least it is for me.  I don't seem to recover as fast as I used too...


Overall - a spectacular trip.  The kids were well behaved, excited and really enjoying the experience.  Many commented on how the speakers were very good and I thought the line-up was better than average.  We saw all but Dr. Catlett and heard he might have been the best one!

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Back to the real world today and I hope that the next few weeks will benefit from the excitement that National FFA brings home.


I hope you are planning on NAAE convention (Think National FFA for grown-ups.) and I will see you there.


Now - about unraveling the messes from last week's classes and getting the kids back to normal.

Hard to believe that next week is already Halloween. Here in NJ it's looking like we are going to get quite the trick, as Hurricane Sandy is predicted to combine with a nor'easter to form one nasty wind and rain storm. Our admins have already called for a half day on Monday, and we could be out for the rest of the week depending on how bad the power outages and flooding. I'm hoping it won't be as bad as the meteorologists are saying it might be and we won't miss any days.


On a more positive note, our FFA chapter got quite the treat this week and was able to participate in an awesome community service event. Each October, our county hosts the Gardens Aglow Festival and asks schools from all over the county to carve pumpkins to serve as the decorations for the evening event. Held at The Presby Memorial Iris Garden (home to the world's largest private collection of irises and also one of my students' favorite locations for their SAEs), it brings together the Essex County community, and is a safe way for families to celebrate Halloween and the fall season. This year was the first time we were asked to participate, and the ag science students and FFA members LOVED it! We weren't quite sure what we were going to do with the 25 pumpkins that were dropped off at our school on Monday, but thanks to a collaborative effort with the Graphic Arts students, the pumpkins were transformed into ag and Halloween themed works of art! Most of my students had never carved a pumpkin before (crazy, right?), so they really enjoyed the entire experience. Not only did we provide our county with beautiful decorations for their festival, but we also donated all of the seeds and pumpkin "guts" to our school's Culinary Arts program to be turned into delicious dishes for the students and staff at our school to enjoy. It was truly a spooktacular experience for all involved! Check out the pictures here: Animoto - Pumpkin Carving 2012


In other news, things are continue to go well with both AFNR and Animal Science. Each day is a new adventure, and it is so rewarding to see how much the students are learning and growing as they progress through each curriculum. They are also learning to work better as a team, and it's nice to see them being teammates both in and out of the classroom. Fall CDEs are coming up in a few weeks, and we start our intensive Milk Quality and Products and Fruit and Veggie CDE team practices next week. I've also gotten approval from my principal to have the FFA officers come in before school starts for morning meetings and it's been so popular with the students, that our "FFA Breakfast Club", met 3 out of the 5 days this week. If they want to come in and put in the extra time to make our FFA chapter better, I will come in extra early everyday of the week to make it happen.


I hope everyone at NFFA Convention is having a blast! One of these years, my chapter will join you. For those of you that aren't there, I hope you've been able to catch it on iHigh and RFD. Hope everyone has a great Halloween filled with more treats than tricks, and to all of the ag teachers who are also in the path of the "Frakenstorm", I hope that both you are your students stay safe and make it through with as little damage as possible. I'll try to give you s'Morey soon!





Carving pumpkins is a-moo-zing!


Some "wise owl" carved this one.

Matt Eddy

On the road again - Day 3

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 25, 2012

And the hits keep on keepin' on.


A great day of convention and I have a few moments of respite tonight before the big two day push to the end.


This morning my students helped with the "Rally to Fight Hunger Project" and since we arrived early, several decided to work two shifts instead of the one we signed up for.  What a great group of kids!  I was so proud of their efforts today and their participation all week.

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We also attended a couple leadership workshops and of course the mammoth career fair and industry expo.  All you need to know about the agricultural industry and it's future was in the convention hall Career Expo today.  And I think the future will be in good hands.

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Enjoy some pics of today's fun and I'm excited to see how tomorrow works out.


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Proud to be RAMS!!

Matt Eddy

On the road again - Day 2

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 25, 2012

Another great day down at National FFA Convention 2012.

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After our brief stint in Chicago, we traveled to the Fair Oaks Dairy Farm -- what a place.  Agricultural ingenuity at it's best.  Every time I am there, I am more impressed with the operation than the time before.  The kids of course had a good time.

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We also HAD to go watch a cow give birth.  I find this highly amusing since most of the kids on the trip have seen most farm animals give birth multiple times at our fair display.  So I asked them... "What do you want to see this AGAIN for?"  Their response?  "We want to go ask all the 'silly' questions that people ask us!"  ROTFL -- Outta the mouths of babes.

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After we arrived, we headed to the opening evening session.  I would share more pictures, but forgot the camera on the bus when we dismounted.    Can I dock my student teacher's grade for not watching out for me more?? LOL   Someone has to help keep me in line and on track...


As the kids eat breakfast this morning - I love to think about what benefits we might have today from their attendance.  The potential is astounding and easily one of the top 5 best things with this career path.


Remember - it's a marathon, not a sprint.


Follow the fun on Twitter at AgEd4ME.

Matt Eddy

On the road again... Day 1

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 24, 2012

What else do you do at 4:30 in the morning and you can't sleep during National FFA Convention trip?


Edit pictures... and reflect on such a great day.


I think that no matter what stage of your career you are in - this has to be one of the best trips with students that you can take.  Today's educational atmosphere seldom gives kids a chance to be excited about educational opportunities, travel, opportunity to see things (even Indiana) that they would not ordinarily see and generally find out that the world is a big broad place and that there is a role for them to play in our future.


We took off Tuesday morning and made stops at place that does Innovation in Planters and Grain Carts : Kinze Manufacturing  in Iowa.  A whopping hour and a half from home.  And I had never been there.  A great tour of a very neat company and American success story.  The kids - as usual - were full of vigor.

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Then we drove on to Chicago to visit the Willis (It'll always be Sears to me --- The FourSquare check in information had that they needed to change the name so people would stop showing up to buy washing machines....LOL)

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It took me TWO years and a bit of gumption but I stood out in the glass box on the 103rd floor.  PHEW - I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  I'm not exactly afraid of heights, but last time up there I couldn't step out on the glass for anything.  Maybe it's the new boots...

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Topped off by a great dinner at Giordanos Famous Chicago Style Pizza  - some great food and atmosphere right next door to the Willis Tower.

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Now - I'm excited to see what today brings.  Every day of National Convention is a good one and I guess the nights are always going to be short.


What's your favorite part of National Convention?

Matt Eddy

The new STEAM train...

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 18, 2012

STEM,                         STEAM,                     National Core,  


Iowa Core,           standards based grading,               competency based education,    


budget woes,                     do more with less,                     NCLB,


CTE core completers,                ACT,                SAT,


Standards monitoring...


It seems like the bombardment of educational buzzwords is like the flurry of punches from a fast-moving welterweight. Floyd Mayweather Jr. even...


What are we doing to make sure that Agriculture Education -- in all of it's glory -- is a part of the current educational conversation?  We have a lot to offer, but are we in a position to offer it?


Lately I have been reflecting on my changing educational philosophy and how it drives what I do and where I focus my time.


Once upon a time, I was wholly concerned with the 'what' I was doing.  Which activities we did, what projects we got done, in and out of school - you know the drill. The 'how' always got answered somewhere along the timeline of the 'what' and Larry the Cable Guy would have been proud of our "Git-R-Done" prowess.  But "Why"?


I was doing things well, things were humming along, but the more I reflect on it - I was missing the bigger picture of "Why".


In the current educational climate - especially in Iowa -- I think that we need to start asking ourselves about the 'Why'.  And once we can comfortably talk about that - the 'What' and the 'How' start to become rather easy to answer.  In fact - they fall into place like railcars; behind the engine of 'Why'.  And I certainly think that the 'Why' should be the engine on this train.


Southeast Polk recently under took two things that make this blog a little more relative to me.  And I think that more and more schools will start to follow suite (if not done so already) - especially in Iowa.

  • We started a comprehensive High School study to be compiled in about 18 months - the quote is from the Des Moines Register story I can't find online anymore.
“If study produces the expected results by raising student achievement and creating a
leaner, more dynamic, fiscally responsible organization”

               Alternately exciting and scary to be sure...


  • We started talking about how we are meeting the Iowa Core - which is very much (or exactly) like the Common Core.  One particular focus is 21st Century Skills.
    1. How do we get EVERY HS student that walks out our doors these 21st Century Skills -- and how does CTE get involved in that?
    2. How else does CTE contribute to the common core and more specifically - How do you know?  (i.e. - Prove it)
    3. And how does CTE meet Iowa Core in other areas.


And so as this STEM conversation develops, it has always been my feeling that we should add an "A" to it and make STEAM. Exhibit #1, Exhibit #2 (Unfortunately - #3 -  the USAToday Education piece "Let's make STEAM" has disappeared too - Internet gremlins, I suppose).


As results of our Governor's Iowa STEM Scale-Up grant roll in (Some great benefits to Iowa Ag Ed) - The realities of the educational debate are all around us.  I hope that we can answer the bell and be a valuable contributor to those conversations.


Look forward to seeing everyone on the trail.  National FFA Convention 2012 - here we come.  Follow the fun @AgEd4ME on twitter.


What current educational theories are you either implementing or considering?

It's hard to believe that the first month of school has gone by and that we're already into fall! This year is going by in a blur, and has the makings to be the best one yet for the program here at ECVTS. The group of students enrolled full time in the AgSci program is just fantastic and have so much enthusiasm for what they're learning. We've had a few bumps as we've settled into the school year, but now that everyone is on the same page, great things are happening!


In the past, I struggled with a mix of students from the "old" horticulture and floral design program and the "new" students who wanted to take agricultural science and CASE. The students who had the previous teacher just wanted to do floral design all day, and were not happy about the amount of work and labs that came with CASE. They also didn't want to get involved in FFA, and our chapter struggled to find it's footing for my first few years as the advisor. However, the current group of students in the program couldn't be more different, and their passion for what they're learning, as well as FFA, is very refreshing!


The additional of CASE Animal Science has been a total success so far, and I can't believe the changes in my students now that they're getting to study what they actually want to learn about. Not only are they interested in the content, but the quality of their work has improved significantly. They're also asking great questions, and some of them have finally found their niche in the world of ag science.



AFNR is now in year 3, and so far, it's off to it's best start yet. It's always been a great way to "hook" the freshmen and convince them to sign up for ag their sophomore year, and I've finally gotten down which activities to do with them down to a science. I also have a great group of sophomores who aren't afraid to show their love of ag, and they are making my job of recruiting freshmen even easier!




Our FFA chapter is also looking to have it's best year since I've been in charge and it's nice to see the students finally taking charge and doing more of the work needed for the chapter to run smoothly. The chapter officers are almost done the POA (and it isn't even due until Dec!), and have started to make the presence of the chapter known around the school. Fall CDEs are next month and the Fruit and Veggie ID and Milk Quality and Products teams are already hard at work preparing. Our chapter has never been one to win or even place well at CDEs, but perhaps this year that will change!


My afternoon Animal Science class is about to walk in, and I need to end this blog post for now. I hope all of you are off to a great start to your school year. Feel free to share your biggest success story so far or what you are most excited about and looking forward to with your students this year. Look for s'morey from me soon!



Wes Crawford

Through the Windshield

Posted by Wes Crawford Oct 8, 2012

Well hello there.  Welcome (back) to another school year.


Being out here in Oregon (pronounced OR-ih-gun, by the way) we're a bit farther off the track than most.  Many people don't realize just how a) large and b) diverse the Beaver state can be.1  This is true for both many of my students who haven't made it that far across the state, and for many folks from other states as well.  For example, what do you think of when you think of Oregon?2  Most say rain, forests, rain, Portland, rain, and the Oregon Trail.3  Fortunately, there is a lot more to it than that.


In fact, Oregon is incredibly diverse in environment, terrain, and agriculture.  With over 280 commodities produced in some part of the state, there is a lot going on.  Today, the Sutherlin FFA (my chapter) and the Oakland FFA (my wife's chapter) embarked on the 11.675 hour minibus ride (with stops) across the state of Oregon to the literal northeast corner to compete in our State Soil Judging CDE, and tonight I type this from the Enterprise, Oregon Best Western.


For most, 507.2 miles of travel gets you through 1, 2, or 7 states, depending on your region.  But this trip was one I looked forward to, because I knew what a great chance it would be for our students to see how quickly Oregon gets different.4  So it was with gusto we started at 8am this morning, and by this evening had completed the following:



Now I realize many of you drive less miles to attend the National Convention.  Now you know why we fly.


So let us share with you the diversity of Oregon's...diversity.  Check out some of the shots we saw through the windshield today:5


We started heading north this morning and entered the south end of the Willamette Valley.  The ultimate goal of all those pioneers, the Valley is a textbook example of prime, Class I farmland thanks to ice age action 10,000 years ago that ended up stealing all the great top soil from eastern Washington and depositing it here6.  Unfortunately, it is also home to 75% of the state's population.

You probably have heard that Oregon has trees.  And yes, we did not cut them all down in the 1980's - there are as much or more forestland now as there was in 1800.  In fact, Oregon has some of the most progressive forestry practice laws in the country.  But in fact Oregon is only 42% forests, and of that 59% is owned by the government.  As a result of the politics of the past 25 years, over 80% of the timber production in Oregon is from private land.7



Now as you get over the Cascade Range the term 'rain shadow' is on display.  While western Oregon receives 40-100" of rain/year (depending on location), some parts of the east side receive less than 10" annually.  If you think this is a surprise, imagine how my students who live with the rain and have never been to eastern Oregon before feel!

Some of you flatlanders may feel better as you head east...your view is no longer filled by mountains.  This is the part of Oregon I endearingly refer to as 'The place where you can count the trees you see.  All the trees."



And sometimes, you just never what you're going to find along the way...

Just another day in the life.  The only thing better than a day of changing scenery through the windshield is introducing a group of students to it, and making their world that much bigger.


See you on the road!



READER RESPONSE:  What things have you done to broaden your students' horizons?





1 - Notice we are the (OSU) Beaver State, not the (UO) Duck State

2 - If you said "Portlandia," you understand why I cry.  The worse thing - that show is no exaggeration on Portland, Oregon.  None.

3 - You remember that game right?  Where you tried to ford the river and your oxen died?  All I ever did was buy 20,000 rounds of ammo and hunt...

4 - Ecologically/environmentally/agriculturally different, not Portlandia different

5 - Care was taken so that the driver was not distracted while driving the minibus, thank you very much.

6 - Missoula Floods

7 - I could be in a presidential debate with this sort of display of knowledge!

8 - There was no number 8.  But special thanks to my friend Tyler as I shamelessly steal his method of footnoting blog posts.

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