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Springing Into Action

Posted by Tiffany Morey Apr 25, 2014

While the lack of a spring break may have deprived my students of sleep and time off to relax, it has not dampened their spirits when it comes to FFA. Spring has brought many great things to our FFA chapter, and it is nice to see the members being rewarded for their hard work and effort that they have been putting in all year. In the years before I arrived at South, their advisors had not always allowed them to compete in CDEs and attend events that they had prepared for or wanted to try. This year, they were able to expand their horizons and experience the success they deserve.

 

CDEs

The officers tried their hand at the Winter Online CDEs for the first time this year. I had also never had students participate in this either, so it was a new experience for all of us. Our Farm Business Management team took home 3rd place in the state, and we had the 2nd placed individual. The members used this event as a chance to gain new insight into the business of ag since we don't offer it as part of our curriculum, and it will be a great addition to their resumes.

 

Hort Expo was also a great morale booster for the members. Almost every entry (from both middle and high school members) received a ribbon, and both of our senior floral design students received first place in their division for their arrangements. This was their first year involved in FFA, and it is nice that they got a taste of success in a very competitive event and will remember their FFA experience as a positive one.

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Spring CDEs were also successful. We sent a team of first timers to Vet Science, and they had a great experience and a solid showing. They will be back for more next year and more competitive than ever. The highlight was our Ag Mechanics team who placed 2nd in the state in what was a very competitive CDE. We also had the 2nd and 5th placed individuals. We do not have ag mechanics as part of our curriculum, so for them to beat out schools that offer ag mechanics classes was a huge achievement. The group of boys who made up the team had a hard time with the transition of the program this year, so it was wonderful to see them feel proud and successful. We were also extremely fortunate to have a great group of parents and community members to coach them and help guide them along. I know nothing about ag mechanics, so their help was greatly appreciated!

 

 

Living to Serve Grant

Our chapter was awarded a Living to Serve Grant this year to do community outreach about our school's rain garden. After months of planning and coordinating, we headed to West Amwell School to work with 4th-6th graders who will attend South in the future. The members taught the younger students about the rain garden, and assisted them in making hummingbird feeders out of recycled water bottles. This fun, yet eco-friendly project, was a wonderful experience for all involved, and we are hoping to continue our partnership with WAS next year. The elementary students showed a strong interest in learning about FFA, and hopefully will join our middle school chapter when they take ag in 7th and 8th grade.

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Have a great weekend and look for S'Morey soon!

 

-TM

Wes Crawford

From Coast to Coast

Posted by Wes Crawford Apr 21, 2014

So in the past two and a half weeks being an ag teacher has taken me through six time zones.  I am not sure I know which way is up right now.

 

First, April began on the East Coast at the National Science Teacher’s Association (NSTA) convention in Boston.  I had the great honor of being there with DuPont as part of the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador program and the George Washington Carver AgriSCIENCE teacher program, along with several other ag teachers from across the states and 14,000 of our closest science teacher friends.  Oh and Bill Nye. 

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Although these days with Cosmos on TV, Bill better watch out for Neil deGrasse Tyson taking reign.  Good thing they are apparently friends.

 

The neat thing about this conference is finding resources to bolster the ways we strengthen STEM in our agriscience programs.  There are huge numbers of resources out there from organizations such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Personal Genetics Education Project, and others who can provide us ways to engage our students in instruction such as genetics, engineering, environmental science, and more. Agricultural education is a clear nexus and applicable example of all of these areas of instruction.

 

After a busy conference and a quick stroll down Boston’ Freedom Trail to see major sites of American history (Bunker Hill, The Old North Church, the USS Constitution, and the inspiration for the bar for Cheers), it was back on a plane headed west, a crazy six days back at home, and then another hop on a plane, again headed west to NAAE Region I.  Which if you know what is west of Oregon, you may question where that could be.

 

Aloha O’ahu.

 

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(Yes I really took both those pictures).

 

The Hawai’i agriculture teachers, NAAE Region I Vice President Nick Nelson, and WAAE Executive Director Gary Parkert put together a fantastic regional conference this year. Besides the pretty swank backdrop of the beaches of Waikiki, a great program provided all who came with information, ideas, and curriculum to take back to their schools.  Along with peeling sunburns and floral print shirts.

 

Sometimes we get so focused on our programs and situations that we don’t stop to think about how they do it in other places.  But we had the opportunity to tour Leilehua High School where ag teacher Jackie Tichepco runs two hundred students through hands-on learning by managing several acres of bananas, beans, papaya, hydroponics, livestock, and more.  Oh, and the growing season is 365 days of the year.

 

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The activities Jackie and her students are engaged in are unique and creative.  While the crops and lessons may be different, the concepts of doing to learn in agricultural industries are the same.  The novelty of being in a very different part of the world just adds to the intrigue.

 

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There is no doubt that April is just about the worst possible time to have a professional conference that pulls you out of school for most of a week.  We have three weeks until banquet, five days until plant sale, two weeks of 12 CDEs, and – oh yeah – just a bit of teaching to do.  But the benefits of professional development pays back in spades for your students and community.

 

Enjoy the spring folks. Make plans for how you are going to take advantage of professional development.  Yes, you’re busy.  But it’s important.  You got this.

Matt Eddy

Life is good today

Posted by Matt Eddy Apr 16, 2014

It's been a while here, but I hope your world has been spinning along this spring.  We have had more than normal snow and sprinkled in some 80 degree days... hard to get used to one temperature before it changes.

 

Today my FFA members worked to set up the Altoona Community Garden -- a community committee undertook this project and wanted me to participate.  Instead of me, I nominated one of my senior members to be on the committee and represent the FFA.  She did an excellent job, helped create plans for the community garden, secure supplies, found help from fellow FFA members and helped make the FFA an integral part of the event. I was lucky enough to be able to drive the truck today and help where needed.  Made me feel good about their accomplishments and the role Agriculture Education played in preparing them for it.

 

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Speaking of trucks -- the Toyota truck arrived yesterday, just in time to be put to work for our community garden.  BIg thanks to NAAE, Toyota, and National FFA Foundation for making this award possible.  What a great thing for agriculture education -- more people have stopped me in the last 6 months and inquired about Ag Ed than have for the past 15 years. No Joke!  It's a great chance to help people see that Ag Ed is a legitimate educational model and is developing phenomenal kids.  As evidenced above.

 

I think the kids (my kids) had more fun than I did picking up the truck last night. ;-)
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State Convention is in two weeks and a CASE Training in between.  Living la vida loca.

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