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Matt Eddy

Holy Summertime Batman!

Posted by Matt Eddy Jun 30, 2014

Well, June is sure a fun month -- a busy month -- but a fun month.

 

Aside from various Career Development events --

one day for Agronomy, Food Science, and Ag Mechanics;

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another for Horse Judging, Floriculture and Nursery Landscape

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-- and Officer Retreats and DLCCO training,

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helping present with Daniel Foster & Christopher Zane Sheehan on "Leveraging Social Media for Program Success: Preparing your students for the Digital World!  #TeachAgSM14 for the Indiana Association of Agriculture Educators (IAAE) Conference -- incidentally, which is not the Iowa Association of Agriculture Educators (IAAE) -- which can be confusing.

 

We sold off one of our cull cows from the ALC herd -- a good market for cattle continues -- at the site of the 2014 National Auctioneers Championships in Knoxville, Iowa.

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I wanted to talk about the great time had by all at the Region III Conference hosted by Wisconsin Association of Agriculture Educators in Middleton Wisconsin. IF you have not attended a Regional conference -- GO!  Regional Conferences are one of the best times and have certainly helped me grow in the profession.  Besides helping craft the future of our professional organization - there are usually great tours of the areas agriculture.  Not only do you get to become more familiar with the teachers from your state, but also from your region.  Our profession is tough enough as it is -- getting to know other educators with your same situations (even regionally) makes it a little bit easier.  I'm not sure if my goal of attending more regional conferences than Bob (and Barb) Leonard from Iowa is possible -- but I do know that the years that I miss Region III are a bit duller by comparision.

 

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Next year -- Region III in Poplar Bluff, NE  - I hope we can lay in enough supplies to make it out there.

 

Now to put the Tundra to use and start getting ready for the Iowa State Fair - a scant 35 days away. A CASE workshop in-between and a short family vacation.  Time sure flies when you are having fun.

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Remember to sharpen the saw this summer at a Regional Conference -- it's a marathon, not a sprint.

The Balancing Act

Posted by Tiffany Morey Jun 12, 2014

With the last day of school in one week and one day (not that I'm counting ), now seems like an opportune time to take a few minutes to reflect on my first year as the ag teacher here at South. The past 12 months have most certainly brought about huge changes: I switched schools, moved to a new place, inherited and spent a lot of time fixing a very broken ag program, became the advisor of 2 FFA chapters, taught middle school for the first time, joined the FFA Alumni, and became connected with some great people in the local community who have been very supportive in helping both myself and the program.

 

 

While the changes have been mostly positive, at times the responsibilities and stress of being the lone ag teacher of a 7-12 program and the advisor of 2 chapters (middle and high school), has caused a disruption of the careful balancing act that we ag teachers try to maintain in order to keep our sanity. We're all familiar with the daily struggle of trying to balance our professional lives and our personal lives. It's hard to find time for everything we need to do at school and with FFA and for our families, significant others, and ourselves.


 

I've always worked hard to keep the balance in check, and this year I found my professional life taking precedence over my personal one far more than I would like. I'm fortunate to have wonderful and understanding people in my personal life who were supportive of my job taking my time away from them, and who were there to listen and offer advice when I needed it. There have been numerous successes with the program itself and the FFA chapter, but it was a long, hard year that I am glad to see come to an end. The situation I walked into with my program required much more time and attention than I anticipated, and while the extra work put in was more than worth it, and now that the end is in sight, I'm downright exhausted am looking forward to taking some time this summer to relax, re-charge, and de-stress.

 

 

Next year looks to be better though, as the CASE courses will be taught in the science labs, and plans are in place to remodel the "ag garage" of a classroom into a modern ag science learning lab. All of the traditional high school ag classes (CASE ASA, CASE ASP, and Floral Design) have filled for next year, and a new course (CASE APB) is being added. The "ag garage" itself is finally clean and organized, and I think the days of finding unpleasant surprises such as the moldy ice cream maker and petrified dead fish, have come to an end. The program has acquired the needed supplies for all of the classes taught, and all of the junk is gone. Articulation agreements were established with 2 4-year colleges and one is in the works with another 4-year college as well. The administration is happy with the new direction of the program, and is supportive with the program continuing to grow and expand. On the FFA front, we are no longer in the red and actually are going into the summer with funds for next year, needed documents, resources, and supplies for chapter operations are in place, and student interest in participating at the local and state levels seems to be increasing. We had a great showing at State Convention with many students receiving awards and recognition for their participation in CDEs, and our chapter received its first Superior Chapter Award as well its first National Chapter Award with a Bronze Ranking.

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State Convention 2014

 

However, there are still things that need to be improved. The students still are resistant to the change of having more rigorous ag courses, actually having to do real work in class, and not being able to have the free for all that the ag classes were in the past. There is still an apparent lack of respect (the phrases "please stop talking" and "put away your cell phones" are used far too often ), and while the work gets done and done correctly, there is a lack of effort or desire to do it. I didn't expect these things to improve much this year, but I think next year the students will be more cooperative. My style of structured teaching is very different from the laid back approach of my predecessors, but now the students know what to expect in terms of behavior and work-load when they take one of my classes. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was the feat of gaining the respect of students and having them want to work with you and for you.


 

I'm also working on improving the lines of communication within the FFA chapter, especially with the officer team. They were very attached to their previous advisor and co-advisor, and are hesitant about coming to me to talk about what they want and need for themselves and our chapter. At times, this hurts my feelings, but I?m working on establishing ways for us to have more open communication with one another. In addition, improving officer and members involvement in the integral planning and carrying out of events is another priority for next year. Having them take more ownership in the actual running of the chapter will not only save me the stress of trying to do it all myself, but will help to eliminate the sense of "it's not my job its insert officer title/member name here]'s job" and build a greater sense of being a team.


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Hard work paying off


 

As the end of the year inches every closer, I'm working hard to reestablish the balance in my life. While at times disruption of the balance of personal and professional is necessary and unavoidable, it's important to keep things in perspective and not let one take too much of a priority over the other for too long of a period of time. The temporary imbalance of this year was stressful and tiring, but worth it because the goals I set out to accomplish with the new FFA chapters, job, and ag program were met. Next year will still be hard and I'm sure professional will win out over personal more than I'd like, but the experience and wisdom I gained over the past 12 months will help me keep it manageable. As time goes on, I will continue to improve my ability to maintain the balance of life and not get so upset and stressed when it gets off kilter.

 

 

I hope everyone has a safe and relaxing summer, and tries to regain the balance in their own life. As ag teachers and FFA advisors it's hard because many of us have summer contracts, and everyone knows that FFA is pretty much s year-round job, but we all need to make sure that we find some time for our personal lives. Look for S'Morey in the fall.


-TM

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