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Happy New Year, friends!


I love January, because if we're getting snow days where I live, we'd be getting them this month. The only problem? Tomorrow's expected high is 70 degrees! I guess I won't be holding my breath . However, like so many of you, my job is not a "job", and I'm perfectly content to get up every morning and go to work.

Like most agriculture teachers in Middle Tennessee, my Januaries consist of training the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and Parliamentary Procedure teams. I’ve always loved the thrill and skill of Parli Pro, but I’ve found that each year my future chapter officers and active members for all four years are rooted in the students who take time two (or three!) times a week for more than a month at least to recite the reason why we gather together regularly as members. Whether or not they will be competitive has yet to be seen, but winning a contest is not nearly as important when we prepare for this particular contest. I'm reminded of how important this competition is when I look at my Student Advisor, President and Vice President (in the photo below, back in 2009!). Three seniors, three officers, all of whom relate much of what they know about public speaking, discipline and teamwork back to those afternoons so many years ago. It's odd to think that in a few months they'll be gone!


We have begun discussing cats in the Small Animal Care classes. This being my first year with the class, I’m having fun finding fun and useful information to cover the standards. Unfortunately I’m not able to have animals at school as of yet, but I’m also hopeful that we will be able to foster cats in the future. Those with success in that endeavor are welcomed to give some advice!

I’m also updating the Middle Tennessee FFA webpage frequently, as I had the honor of becoming the Middle Tennessee Advisors Chairman this past fall. For those who haven’t checked it out yet, I HIGHLY recommend signing up with Unlimited pages, customizable, unlimited photo and document uploads, and even a texting feature! I’d love some pointers for anyone who sees areas for improvement on mine!

On a personal note, I will soon have to change my school stationary and door sign to a new last name – I’m engaged! My fiancé Shane proposed to me in the mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (if you’ve never been, it’s a great vacation spot!). All of my students have touched my heart with how much they care and are excited for me! My colors will involve certain, more muted versions of National Blue and Corn Gold, and there will more of my FFA family on the guest list than any other group!


What a view!


Soon-to-be Mr. & Mrs. Lumpkins

I often wondered if my choice of profession would make it difficult to start a family, so I'm glad to have found someone who understands the late nights, early mornings, and busy weekends of an agriculture teacher!

I even get to have one of my very best friends and fellow FFA advisors, Pam Farmer Walker, stand with me as a bridesmaid! Pam is a legend in Tennessee FFA: she was the first female State FFA President. More recently, she advised James Flatt, 2010-11 National Southern Region Vice President.


Me and Pam on an agriculture tour of the Mid-West in 2010

I'm heading out the door now to go home after staying late to discuss some things with my Parli Pro chairman, who has studied her behind off during Christmas Break. It's students like her that make it ok that we may not get any snow days anytime soon. Until the temps drop and I can post blogs in my pj's, we'll be chugging away at upcoming CDEs and preparing for National FFA Week. I hope to post soon on our plans and hear about great ideas from other fabulously talented FFA advisors out there.

Jessie Lumpkins

All Members in Unison:

Posted by Jessie Lumpkins Oct 31, 2012

National FFA Convention is what turned the switch on for me. When the house lights in Freedom Hall came up in 2002 and I recited with thousands of other FFA members in the same blue jacket the words: "To practice brotherhood, honor agricultural opportunities and responsibilities, and develop those qualities of leadership, which an FFA member should possess," knew my four years wouldn't be enough. After being honored to speak at the 5th Session at the 85th National FFA Convention with McKenzie Becker and Mike Miron for NAAE, I hope you'll indulge me for this post as I persuade young people to join the profession; or at the very least, remind each of us why we do the job we do.

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To Practice Brotherhood ...

Just I do every year at National Convention, I noticed the bond between my students grow closer during our time in Indy last week. How could it not when we had to catch 5:30am buses and squeeze too many people to mention into a small Mercury SUV?  My students made new friends and cheered for old ones. This is the first year we didn't compete in a CDE at Nationals since I've been an advisor, but it didn't mean we weren't rooting for every Tennessee team there.  I love the flurry of excited texts when someone else advances to the final four or makes it past pre-lims- students whom they may not have shared a classroom with, but are no less friends and fellow FFA members. Not only were they supporting other FFA members, but they were courteous and helpful to everyone we met along the way in Indy.What other career allows you to create kind and compassionate young people in such a way?


Honor Agricultural Opportunities and Responsibilities ...

We of course saw our fair share of sessions and the career show and expo. We were lucky enough to also work the first shift in the Rally to Fight Hunger as well. During the shift, my chapter president was interviewed by the local Indy 6 News. Without any preparation at all, she delivered a flawless and wonderful interview, in part due to her placing 2nd in the Job Interview CDE at state this year. As we walked into our hotel room to change, we flipped on the TV and just happened to see her, on a TV 300 miles away from home. What other career creates opportunities for students long after they've left your classroom?



And Develop Those Qualities of Leadership...

Leadership can be navigating the group to Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indy. Leadership is taking charge of the group to determine dinner plans. Leadership is seeing the student feeling a little left out and saying, "What booths would you like to visit in the career show?" We'd all like to hope that one day the leaders we developed will be the face of Fortune 500 companies, but isn't it just as amazing to develop a leader who can simply make others around them feel comfortable, validated and welcomed? Let's face it - they won't all be CEOs, but they will all be in situations where someone needs validation and to be welcomed. Those small things are what add up the big things. What other career lets you teach the small things?



Which an FFA Member Should Possess ...

Even on those days ... the ones where we wonder if Wal-Mart greeter should be a career option ? it always gets better. On the last day of convention, one of my newer members had an... explosion. He said he didn't want his FFA jacket, that he hated FFA, and that he had an awful time on the trip. Of course my heart hurt for a little while and I spoke with him about why I wanted him to attend, and hoped in the future he could open himself up to growth. Then I let him cool off and hours later he pulled me aside. "My mom always taught me to count my blessings, and you're definitely one of them. I just had anger built up before the trip and I took it out here. I love FFA and I definitely don't want to quit. I've never had a teacher care about me so much. I'm sorry." I'm glad in a way that this student let out his anger so that he can release it and allow the experiences he'll have in FFA to help him "grow." What other career so directly influences positive growth of young people?

Yes we teach facts, statistics, methods, skills and those are important. I'm sure my students gained technical, tangible information while at convention as well, and I love that aspect of my job. But the part that keeps me coming back after my feet are blistered, I've had four hours of sleep in a strange bed, I've heard harsh words, I've endured the city bus for four days and I'm pretty sure I'm getting sick... is the knowledge that because of something I've done, there are young people with a positive outlook on their future, who know (in a time when there is so much hopelessness among teenagers) that they are valued, and who will be pillars of their communities and possibly of their entire generation.

Are you being called to do the same? When will you be tagged?

Jessie Lumpkins

"I Wanna Be a Teller"

Posted by Jessie Lumpkins Sep 27, 2012

My mom loves to tell the story of when I was very young and standing in line with her at the bank. I looked to her and said,

"Momma, I wanna be a teller."

"A bank teller, and work at a bank like this?"

"No Momma, I wanna tell people what to do."

Every time I hear that story, I think about how funny it is that I became a teacher. When I'm not "telling" my students what they need to know to be career ready, I look forward to telling you all about my experiences as one of the Day in the Life of an Ag Teacher bloggers.


I'm Jessie Hartle (pronounced as HART-lee, although I'm frequently and loudly referred to by my students as "Ms. Hart-ull") I'm 25 and in my 4th year teaching agriculture at rural Page High School in Franklin, Tennessee (about 30 minutes south of Nashville). The town itself is historical and relatively urban, but PHS is on the outlying country area that has an odd combination of students from both well-off and low-income families. PHS is a Blue Ribbon School and has been named to both Newsweek and the US Today's lists of the top high school in the United States. Our facilities are pretty old (built in 1973), and we are literally the only thing aside from houses and farms in this area. That leads to a pieced-together but somehow successful school of about 830 students.

Williamson County is home to many famous country music stars- Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and George Jones are just a few. Middle Tennessee is well known for hosting both the Walking Horse Capitol of the World, and the Nursery Capitol of the World. Many of my students show livestock or want to be a veterinarian when they "grow up". My program has tailored itself to meet these needs over the past few years, moving from a plant science based curriculum to one with Vet Science, Small Animal Care, Livestock Management, and Agriscience courses. I'm very hopeful that in the coming weeks I will get the go-ahead to turn my dilapidated old shop into an animal lab...but that's a story for another day.


All 88 students enrolled in the courses also become FFA members (as we affiliate our membership now). Our FFA chapter has won 4 state titles and elected 2 state officers since I've been at the helm. As a past Tennessee state officer, I'm always passionate about involving my students not just in the classroom, but in the FFA as well. My goals are always high when it comes to the FFA; are they always met? No- there are plenty of days when we walk away without a win or something goes wrong and I think, "I know we can do better." What I've realized is that list of goals I made many years ago for my career can't be accomplished in 1, 2, or even 5 years. I have progressed into a much more patient person because of it...which is also a story for another day.


My 2012-13 chapter officers during our retreat at Camp Clements Leadership Camp in Doyle, TN

I grew up in the country (about an hour north of where I now teach) and raised chickens, and knew from the first year enrolled in agriculture that this could not be just a 4 year experience for me. I graduated in 2009 from Middle Tennessee State University: Go Blue Raiders! Just because you may not have heard of it doesn't mean we aren't big time here in Tennessee- MTSU boasts the largest undergraduate enrollment in the state (yes, bigger than any school you know that wears bright orange.)


Me in 2002 before the state Creed CDE. The hair, the braces, the orange and purple jacket... *cringe*

Once I (finally) leave school and head home to Nashville, I like to bake and do other crafty things. I embrace my Southern roots and thoroughly enjoy NASCAR. Shout out to all the Texas and Oklahoma ag teachers- I love red dirt country music, especially Stoney LaRue. I collect owls (of course) and soil from anywhere I travel. (Feel free to send me some!)

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the many topics that surprise, excite, frustrate, or confound us. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter @JessieHartle, and can catch up with my FFA members at

"The secret of success is to make your vocation your vacation." - Mark Twain

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