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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.