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Next week is Thanksgiving, which means that it's the time of the year where I always take some time to reflect on all of the things that I am thankful for in my life. This year I am fortunate to have many wonderful things to be thankful for. First and foremost, I am thankful for the fact that my family and friends made it through Hurricane Sandy without losing their lives or their homes. Some of them had damage to their homes and possessions from the storm, but they will be able to repair and replace what was lost. Due to widespread power outages (our entire county was out as was most of our state!), we lost a week of school, but that too can be easily fixed and made up. Our beaches also had damage, but with time they too, will be replenished and restored for all to enjoy. Hurricane Sandy took so much away from so many, but thanks to the sense of community and the fighting that we have here in New Jersey, we will rebuild and restore our shore and our communities in no time!



The calm after the storm - the beach a few days after Hurricane Sandy.


The next thing I am thankful for is my family. Without them and their love and support, I would never have gotten to where I am in my life. They are always there to support through good and bad, give advice, and listen when I need them to, even if it does involve me whining and complaining. While they might not understand what exactly it is that I do as an ag teacher, they are proud of me for choosing this career and for that, I am truly grateful.


I am also thankful to have a job that I absolutely LOVE! Teaching ag was not my first choice or even a profession I imagined myself having (more on that in another blog post), but it became the best decision I ever made. Not everyday is all roses and sunshine, but I honestly look forward to going into work every morning. As ag teachers, we have the power to make a real difference in the lives of young people and in our communities, and that is an awesome thing. We also get to have a lot of fun while we work and aren't stuck doing the same things everyday. I 100% love what I do, and I am very lucky to have a job that I am so passionate about!



Some of my students representing our program at the district's annual School/Student Recruitment Fair


The Ag Science program display at the fair.


Being an FFA advisor is another thing I am thankful for. I was never an FFA member myself, but as an advisor I have learned what a great organization it is and have come to enjoy being a part of it. I like being able to help my students grow as leaders and as people, develop their skills and knowledge through CDEs, and see them be rewarded for their hard work and effort. This week, we had our Fall CDEs and my students had our chapter's best showing  in it's history! Our teams of 3 beat many teams of 4 in both CDEs, and had they had the additional member/score

(on our team of 4 in the one event, one of the kid's scantrons didn't read, so her score wasn't counted ) , they would have given the top placing teams a run for their money. Not only that, but all of FFA members individually finished in the top 50% or better in both events. I am beyond proud and thrilled with their performance, and it showed them that if they work hard, they can achieve great things. Now that they have the fire of success under them, I can't wait to see how they will apply it as we progress through the rest of the year!


Essex County Vocational Technical Schools FFA is in the house!


The final thing that I am thankful for is being a part of the ag teacher community on both the state and national level. We ag teachers are a close-knit group, and it is awesome how we work together to share information and help solve each other's problems. It is comforting to know that if I ever have a question or concern, I can post it on CoP and get an answer. In addition, it is also nice to have a group of people to share my experiences with and know that they will understand what I am going through. Thank you so much for letting me share my story with all of you as a part of this blog. It means more than you will ever know.


I hope that all of you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving with your families and if you can, take a few minutes to reflect on the things in your life that you are thankful for. I look forward to seeing and meeting some of you in person at NAAE Convention in a little over a week, and can't wait to put names to faces! I'll give you s'Morey and a convention recap in a few weeks! Happy Turkey Day!




PS-I ran the Trenton Half Marathon last weekend as a part of NJ Team AG Ed! It was an awesome experience (especially since I set a new PR) and we are looking forward to our next race already!


A tired, but happy NJ Team AG Ed at the finish of the Trenton Half Marathon! (note that I represented FFA with pride for all 13.1 miles!)

Matt Eddy

Oddly Analogous

Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 15, 2012

What a week.  It's only Thursday and I think I'm likely to have crammed 7 days of stuff into 5 ... typical Ag Ed right?


This weekend, the Advanced Animal Science class met to prep the Iowa State Fair Animal Learning Center cows for AI on Tuesday.  Lots of fun, including castrating calves. You can follow at hashtag ISFALC13 on twitter.


Monday: Regular day - what are those?  Lab in AFNR on using the Vernier Lab Quests for the AFNR class.


08-CASE class 08.JPG11-CASE class 11.JPG


Tuesday: Advanced Animal Science got to AI cows - same cows, but new kids.  It all feels oddly familiar to me.  ROTFL  After lunch in the booming metropolis of Runnells (2 bars, one church), it was time to change clothes and take another group of students to present CASE to the Governor's STEM Advisory board at Drake University.  Following that, the FFA Foundation Finance Committee met that night till about 9.  After that, I took the rest of the day off...

041-2012 ALC Cows AI 041.JPG118-2012 ALC Cows AI 118.JPG

  007-2012 ALC Cows AI 007.JPG8-STEM Advisory 008.JPG


Wednesday: Late Start and staff development. Enthralling.  Then Fruit Sales were due so a majority of the day was spent accounting for the funds while Ms. Anderson (Student teacher) conducted class.  She has really done a fine job and I'm excited to see her get that first job.  The chapter reached their goal - so while I am at NAAE in a couple weeks, they will have their pizza party / movie night using the big screen in the auditorium. (Ms. Anderson will earn her student teaching grade for sure)


Thursday: Students are presenting at the Iowa Association of School Boards conference downtown, the State Officers are here for a chapter visit and are working with the classes.  A great SO duo today and the kids are definitely having a good time.  Afterwards, I suppose I will need to go back downtown to pick up the kids.... gotta remember that.


Friday: Labs begin again in earnest on fetal pig dissection, using Vernier Lab Quests and horticulture projects should be nearing completion.


I guess it's better than being board.


Hope to see lots of friends and make some new ones in Atlanta in a couple weeks.

Wes Crawford

Award Winning R & R

Posted by Wes Crawford Nov 5, 2012

First quarter of the year is in the books...well, at least most of the grades that are supposed to be there are.  Back a week now since National Convention.  Rolling the clocks back is the insult to the injury of jet lag.  About to certify 50 freshmen in the safe operation of agricultural equipment.  Gearing up to host a district ag sales event.  T-shirt order is wrapping up Round 1.  Probably should get that plant order in...


With this sort of line-up staring you in the face, there is but one recourse:  college game day.  Road trip.  Tailgater.


Oregon has one agricultural education teacher preparation program (and a darn good one), so it's no surprise the great majority of our ag teachers are Beaver Believers (and we don't speak to the rest).  Our district's cohort of teachers decided earlier this year (read:  the first weekend after school started) that an adviser retreat was in order for the fall.  We made that happen this past weekend with a great day of get-out-of town with a visit to the Alma mater and a day of barbecued beef and socializing.  It ended up we couldn't all make it, but those that did made it a good one.


Sometimes you can get wrapped in the day-to-day and forget about the long haul.  And if you want to keep everyone on the bus with you positive and working well together, then making the time to take the time to reinvest in the personal as well as professional relationships you have with your colleagues is key.  I work with the other ag teachers in our district as much as some of the teachers in my building, and rather more than most of the rest.  And clearly, all you need is the right orange-black attire, a pop-up tent, and a rusty barrel smoker and you are in business.


But the good times didn't end there on Saturday.  Allow me to to quote our very own Dr. Greg Thompson, Ag Ed department head at ol' OSU, from the email he sent out over the OVATA listserv this morning:


"During the Arizona State game, I looked up at the jumbotron at halftime and there were some rough looking rascals from the Umpqua District with Benny the Beaver.  It was Kate Crawford, Braden Groth, Charlie Vandehey, Wes Crawford and Brian Arp, proudly displaying the Oregon Beef Council's Tailgater of the Game Award.  It sounded and looked like a true Beaver Classic Tailgater.  Congratulations to the Umpqua 'Ag Teacher Tailgater' for their display and salesmanship in Tailgating."  And then he said something about OSU Ag Ed receiving prestigious awards, etc. etc.

Haha yep.  So there we were enjoying the extremely pleasant not-rainy weather in Corvallis, and had accumulated a bit of a crowd of friends and visitors, when a group from the Oregon Beef Council came by looking for tailgaters serving beef.  They said that if we let them sample some of the cookin' they'd consider us for the OBC Tailgater of the Game Award.  We retorted that if they could identify the primal cut, they could have a sample.

We're ag teachers.  What do you expect?

But in the end, some great smoked Beef - Chuck - Clod Heart (yeah we didn't recognize it either, but it was cheap; again - we're teachers) with a bring-it-on attitude won the day, as did the boys on the gridiron, and indeed it was a bunch of ag teachers mugging on the big screen in Reser Stadium.

Overall, just another day in the life of an ag teacher:  camaraderie, good friends, cooked beast, and a story to tell afterwards.  Can't beat that.

READER RESPONSE:  Share your ag teacher hijinks, stories, and the like!

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