Disclaimer: What follows below is one-side of a provocative coin: Wes and Matt have taken a topic and then divvied up the "Point" side and the "Counter-Point" side. Neither article necessarily reflects the personal or professional opinions of either Wes Crawford or Matt Eddy Rather, the goal is to generate some professional dialog about what a day looks like in the 21st Century to be an Agriculture Educator. Catch Wes's flip side here http://communities.naae.org/blogs/dayinthelife/2016/02/07/would-you-like-fries-with-that-state-degree-pin.
Topic: Is Working at McDonalds an SAE project?
Jim Handy looked with disapproval at the weather report. SNOW -- BLIZZARD -- Lots of it. He sighed -- A day off is exactly what he needed but not this week. Proficiencies and State Degrees, contests and officer books were due in 4 days. And Mr. Handy was going to need every one of them to wrangle those kids and get their record books put into order. It really should have been done last fall, but in-between homecoming parade floats and preparing for National FFA convention (then dealing with the fall-out when Timmy Timmerson skipped curfew to meet some girls from Nebraska - his father was the head of the Flat Broke Savings and Loan as luck would have it - and it was a long conversation and a long fall for Mr. Handy). After those red hot coals were put out, it was the end of the semester and grading multiple choice tests took all of Mr. Handy's free time.
Most of the impending degrees were pretty straight forward. Mr. Handy had lots of kids who showed livestock or worked at the Heartache Co-op - loading customer trucks with bags of feed and fertilizer. Heartache hired them by the handful and paid a whopping $5.25 an hour - good pay for a youngster and this had kept Mr. Handy's students in SAE projects for years. But now students were getting ideas -- and he was having trouble keeping them focused on good Agriculture projects.
Take Elias - he was a nice kid, Handy mused, but not coming from a farm, he was certainly disadvantaged in class. Just last week when they were ear notching paper cut-outs of pigs ears, he asked - "Mr. Handy, why is this important??" -- "Well,..." puffed Handy, "it just is. We've been notching pigs since before I taught this class and we will be notching pigs long after I retire in a few years" -- that Elias was a regular wise-apple sometimes Handy thought. Even his SAE was an exercise in tolerance. Elias worked at the new McDonald's that cropped up at the junction of the Interstate bypass and Highway 218. It was the talk of the town, since otherwise you had to drive 30 miles to have a good meal. Elias was one of two students of Mr. Handy who worked there. $8.25 an hour! Handy didn't know how they could stand to pay such exorbitant wages to youngsters. And how was he supposed to explain this SAE to the State Degree board?? Why - it's never been done. And to compound matters, Elias was the son of old Mrs. Winklefelter who taught college-prep calculus. And the last time she had caught Handy in the teacher's lounge she had scurried over to him to talk about how excited Elias was to earn his State Degree next year along with his classmates. Shoot, how was he supposed to work with those kind of expectations?? It's downright uncivil. He had muttered about looking forward to 'helping' and after grabbing his new "Livestock Showman Monthly" magazine, he made a hasty exit.
As Handy made his way back into the ag room, he noticed a light on the phone - Agh, messages. He hated that phone. If he wasn't in, then just call back later... He reluctantly redialed the number and searched his desk for the slip of paper with the code to unlock it. "Dang, fangled nabber flabber's"... he muttered.
When the message finally cued up, it was Farmer Jones, the octogenarian who had a small dairy down by the Old Creek Road. Turned out the last worker he hired from the local community college wasn't coming back (4th one this month Handy reflected) and Farmer Jones was wondering if he knew of any kids who might want to help around the place a bit. Handy reflected on his classes -- maybe what Farmer Jones needed was some new blood that he could train the right way to do things around his farm. Handy made a note to call Farmer Jones back and also wrote down to talk with Elias tomorrow about his SAE -- maybe he could get two crows with the same stone....
As our shortage of agriculture producers continues and the average age of the American Farmer becomes more geriatric - shouldn't agriculture education programs focus on producing more producers?? The entire industry and mankind depends on the few, the proud, the Farmer.
We don't have a shortage of fast food workers, co-op employees, and the like -- but we do have a shortage of farmers. Mr. Handy may have agricultures best interests at heart...