Today as I print out an exit surveys for our most recent field trip, I remembered that I had not yet shared our adventure to the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention in Nashville. Page High School is located about 40 minutes south of the famous Opryland Hotel, where the convention is held each year.
The magic of this trip was that it was coordinated in only 5 days. The director Ms. Rolka sent Tennessee FFA advisors a notification that there was a large cancellation in their Youth Wildlife Conservation Experience that focused on careers in the wildlife and natural resources industry. This area is big with my students; we placed 2nd in the state last year in the Environmental and Natural Resources CDE and will add a Wildlife Management class to our current Animal Science pathway next year (it's already full!) The trip, lunch and a bag of goodys would be free for any students we could get to attend. In addition, my sub day and the bus would be paid for! On a whim I asked my principal the next morning if she thought we could swing it, and she and my bookkeeper helped me get us to the event 4 days later. I asked seniors and juniors first since it was focused around careers, but I had a few extra spots and let two freshman attend who took initiative and came to me about the trip.
A day before we left, my students wanted to hear the list of experts.
(Me - Students)
"Tom Tidwell, Chief of the US Forest Service." - "Cool, cool."
"Joe Murfin, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Daisy Outdoor Products." - "Awesome."
"Kristen Giger, Project Biologist, National Wild Turkey Federation." - "Gotta love NWTF."
"Cuz Strictland, Outdoor TV Show, Mossy Oak Camouflage." - "I know who that is! I love Mossy Oak."
"Michael Waddell, Outdoor TV Show Host, Business Owner, Celebrity, Realtree Road Trips." - COMMENCE STUDENT FREAK-OUT. Seriously! The excitement after I read that line went from pumped to barely containing themselves.
The entire panel was very helpful when it came to giving students a direction in the outdoor industry that would help them consider post-secondary options, and how to be a good employee in general. After hearing from the experts, Michael Waddell stayed for at least an hour talking with students individually and signing autographs, giving them advice and reminding them that he started in their shoes.
We had pizza for lunch then made our way to The Roost. This was the area of the convention that had fun booths with lots of hands-on games and experiences, and celebrities like Turtle Man (Live Action!). The best part? There was a live owl. As the people in front of me parted and it's little ear tufts came into view, I audibly gasped. Most of you probably realize that ag teachers/FFA advisors are often associated with owls, but I am truly obsessed. I own probably thousands of owls and owl-related items, but that's a post for another day.
As I called my gang of turkeys in so we could load the bus and get home, they were excited to tell me everything they saw in The Roost and about how it was the best field trip they had ever taken. It was a great day!