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Matt Eddy

High-tech aggie

Posted by Matt Eddy Dec 3, 2013

Just thought I would blog a bit while utilizing the $8 wifi at 36,000 feet.  I think it's safe to say with my travel record, it's a good thing I don't have to go far for my job.

 

While we wing our way to the NAAE conference in Las Vegas (or Lost Wages -- however you look at it) I had a chance to reflect on what a great profession and great conference we have laying ahead of us.  It's a great chance to connect, learn, and be inspired.

 

Now if they would only give out full cans of Dr. Pepper instead of the mini-cups. (guess Airline??)

 

If you haven't considered a foray to our annual professional conference -- please give it your utmost consideration in the future.

 

Here by choice and not by chance.

 

Tally Ho

Matt Eddy

Day(s) in the life - NFFA

Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 4, 2013

Sometimes National FFA Convention it seems like the entire week rolls into one big long day -- and when I arrive back at school on Monday it's like I woke up from a dream.  All I have left to remind me were these 'Hangover'-esk picture montages to piece together what exactly happened.

 

Enjoy -- ME

 

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Culver's - Cause they support us.We toured Caterpillar's Peoria plant - the kids really enjoyed this tour.
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I would have enjoyed the tour more if they left the keys in the ignition.A big D11 blade will always give you some perspective.
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Darley Farms Intl. - The late great Affirmed -- buried in whole - a huge honor for a horse.Some people have pictures of their kids & family - this place has pictures of it's horses.
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One of the best 'hard hat' tours in the Ag industry.Bottling $250 / bottle Bourbon.
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In Honor of Halloween -- no camera tricks -- both pictures taken unaltered from opposite sides of the mural.Creepy ain't it! (the hallway follows you  - Left first, going right second)
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A very great group to travel with -- Ben Booth made us some great T-shirtsReady for the concert.
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Some kids....Susannah Miller (my sister) tagging one of her students to Teach Ag.
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Concert with Dierks BentleyWas fortunate to speak about the CASE curriculum on RFD TV with Orion Samulson, Beau, and Tiffany
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Ellen Thompson rocking the "Teach Ag" workshops - it was a privilege to help along with many others - Jaysa Fillmore Parker Bane Doug Dodd to name just a couple.Ben Booth Me, Marla Shifflet (no CoP) Brandi Boyd Taylorann (Smith) Clark Tonia Prombo Susannah Miller Rosa Sondag -- a great group to travel with.  Much fun had and some stories from the road they hope I don't tell.
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We'll ... if you can't have a little fun... Let the jokes begin.2013 Iowa FFA American Degree recipients -- I didn't make the security folks very happy with my vantage point for this photo... but I got the shot.
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Very proud of our #'s 4 and 5 American Degree's from our chapter EVER!. #1 in 2011 -- Many more to come from these exceptional students - Congratulations to Nic and Brett

Arrived home at 3 am - mowed my lawn Sunday afternoon and

just drove in circles.... coincidence?

Matt Eddy

My kid got a what??

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 10, 2013

Another fun filled week of Parent - Teacher conferences.  When did it all go wrong? 

 

School and grading; School and Grading

It's an institute you can't disparage;

This I tell ya, brother, you can't have one without the other.

 

Maybe I should back up some -- or a lot.

 

I have been toying around with the concept of standards based grading in my program for more than a year.  Finally, I decided that the only way to see how it would work was to put it into practice.  The long and short of it was to run a 4-3-2-1 scale with 4- being above and beyond, 3 - meeting standards, 2 - needs improvement and 1 - no evidence.  The idea was that I could use the National Ag standards (along with CORE standards) articulated in my CASE curriculum to assess student learning in a much more meaningful way.  No late penalties, no zeros, no failing, no extra credit. Did you learn and what can we help you with if you didn't.  All 2's (or 1's) are re-mediated to help the student understand the concept and then changed to a 3 once they can meet the standard. My largest problem is implementing a system that is not meant to ever be compared to an A-B-C-D system but at the end of the semester - having to make the results fit that system.  Such is the life of trying new things I guess.

 

Another brick in my proverbial paving job to Hades.  Sometimes I wonder if my life is meant to serve as a warning to others.

 

For the most part -- the students have been exceedingly accepting of the idea.  In fact, they have been rather agreeable to the concept of being more concerned with their 'learning' rather than with their 'grade'.  But their parents....

 

The reaction from parents was across the board.  Apathy, indifference, anger, anxiety, stress, ignorance.  Several times the inference of 'Sally or Tommy' always being a 4.0 student was mentioned along with overtures of how this would affect their GPA. When did a 4.0 mean a guaranteed golden ticket to the success super-highway??

 

Grading should be a by-product of learning -- not the reason for it.

 

Which is why I have tried to implement this system into my program.  Less reasons to chase grades and more reasons to learn.

 

Maybe I'm just being crazy, or maybe I'm just ahead of the curve... but maybe it's a lunatic we should be looking for.

 

Hope everyone has a great time at National FFA Convention later this month and have made plans for NAAE Convention in .... where was it again?  Some po-dunk little place no one has ever heard of out in the desert someplace.  Guess we will have to make our own fun.

 

Remember - I'm pulling for ya; we're all in this together, ME

Matt Eddy

Dark Horses

Posted by Matt Eddy Sep 4, 2013

It really isn't until after Labor Day weekend that I start to feel normal... Normal for ME anyway --( Stow the wisecracks! )  School starts the day after our State Fair, but it's still a few weeks before I can seem to catch my breath and the three day weekend is my official end to the summer activities.  I surely must enjoy being busy in the summer, because I can't imagine it any other way or how I got to this point.  It surely is hard to explain what we do to those who believe that teachers get their 'summers off'.  I wasn't lucky enough to go abroad like Wes -- see this blog yet? -- but summer was a great one.

 

Since I haven't blogged for a while - we got some catchin' up to do. Kick back and pass the Pepsi.

 

Before the end of the year, there are always a few projects around the school that need finished -- my landscape class got most done but about 10 trees needed my loving approach to finish the job right after school got finished.  Strange how the help disappears sometimes - like water at a mirage.   Luckily we had time to shoe-horn in an officer retreat -- getting kids schedules to match up is a lot harder than I remember it being 15 years ago.

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Literally within 24 hours of returning from our retreat, I left for Pennsylvania to teach a CASE Curriculum Institute for Penn State University.  It was an absolute dream.  The participants were top notch ag educators and I look forward to their impact in our profession in the future. I also got indoctrinated as a positive agent of change by Daniel Foster who was hosting this institute, along with the best 'make it happen' duo in the business - Michael K. Woods and Abigail Smith who took care of all our institute needs. (Pictured @Neil_Fellenbaum Keely Weinberger Mike @Greg_Babbitt and the group)

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All work and no play is no good at all --- I haven't been on a horse in 20 years.  Luckily it's just like falling off a bike... Thanks to Melanie Bloom for the suggestion of touring Gettysburg on horseback and making it sound as cool as it was.  Sergeant (pictured) and I had a great time.

Back home again and we had our North Polk / Southeast Polk joint meeting and cook-out along with the "Battle for the Sourth Polk Cup" - except for exceptionally hot weather, it was a blast.

 

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Before leaving for CASE Biotech in Maryland, we ran the cows thru for one final check prior to fair. It helps to anticipate our timing schedule on who goes to the fair first.

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During my great CASE Biotech experience in Maryland, I studied under the expert tutelage of Aaron Geiman and Carl Aakre - two of the smartest ag teachers I have ever met.  And with their guidance, we ran DNA electrophoresis, genetically modified bacteria to glow, and learned more about Biotechnology than I could remember at the end of the two weeks.  Luckily in the midst of the intellectual calisthenics, we got to spend a Saturday in New York City -- a first for me.  Good friends make travel well worth it and if you want the best 12 hour tour of the greatest city of them all then -- Michael K. Woods is your guy.Leslie Fairchild Romana Cantu  , Carl and Mike and I had a great tour from Penn Station, thru Times Square to the Park, back to the Battery, by the World Trade Center, thru Wall Street and back to Times Square.  It was a first on many levels.

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Remember that while you are busy making a living, don't forget to make a life --- we couldn't say goodbye to Maryland without crossing the Bay bridge (not many bridges in Iowa), eating some crabs on the eastern shore and enduring a little novice crab-shucking pain.  I reveled in the richness of the CASE experiences and my travels so that I could bring a greater sense of purpose back to my agriculture program. Tiffany Morey Wendy Vidor Katy Macleod

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All good things must come to an end -- and there was no rest for the weary as we ramped right up into Animal Learning Center preparation for the Iowa State Fair.  A pretty motley bunch signed up for the Summer LAB course this year and they brought their inner Larry the Cable Guy to life with a "Git'R Done" attitude.  Even though we started later than usual, we were, by far, more ready than usual during the last couple days before fair.  I even got to change my office venue for a day or so.  Nothing like a little hard work to put things into perspective. PALCO APACHE are my heroes - their equipment make teaching kids how to handle and work cattle easy and SAFE!

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Along with cattle care, ALC duties, and cattle transportation; we also worked at the Seed Survivor booth in the Agricultural building, appeared on TV and radio to promote our building and agriculture, and spoke with the Governors' Iowa STEM council in the midst of the hubbub of the fair. (students pictured with Lt. Governor Reynolds below)

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And once we got back to school - our biotech equipment had arrived, we started school and held our Greenhand tailgate before the first home football game.

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And now, after some Labor Day rest, I think we can start over and do it all again.

 

It would be so easy

To find a better way

Oh but I know I'll never change

 

Cause I love the long shot

And the left out lost causes

Hanging out in the back of the pack

with the dark horses

Matt Eddy

Stumblin' along...

Posted by Matt Eddy May 15, 2013

Here is a guest blog I wrote for Kelly Rivard.  She blogs about lots of things, but agriculture is one of them. She was looking for an "I am Agriculture" post from various parts of the industry and I suggested that an Ag Teacher would be a good addition.  I also guess my tweet was my volunteering.  Do you ever feel like that scene in the movies where they are asking a line of troops for one volunteer for a dangerous mission with 0% of success and all the troops take one step back and one rube is left looking around going "Huh?" Somedays - that's me.    Check it out.

 

Guest Post: The Face of Agriculture Education | kellymrivard.com

 

What opportunities to tell the Ag Ed story have you stumbled into lately?  Share with the rest of us!

Matt Eddy

And It Ain't Boring

Posted by Matt Eddy Apr 25, 2013

In the midst of class today - we had a minor situation.

 

The student doing ALC cow chores today noticed that our prize cow wasn't up at the bunk.  Rare for her because she would never miss a meal.  So after some searching, she found her on her side trapped by the bale ring and a mountain of old hay.  To make matters worse, her head was down hill and her rumen uphill and high centered.

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Luckily with my student teacher at the helm of the good ship SE Polk, I was able to hot-foot it out to the pasture (breaking most, if not all, posted speed limits) and work to help get her righted again.

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Once brought back around, she stood on her own and after a phone consultation with Dr. Hoy, the prognosis looked good.  A bit of a dicey situation, but the astute observations of Alyssa and quick action probably kept our best cow in the herd.

 

I guess it ain't boring.  My school shoes sure ain't gonna be the same....

Matt Eddy

Peach Trees and Rainbows

Posted by Matt Eddy Apr 12, 2013

I don't think anyone ever said that teaching Agriculture would be all Peach Trees and Rainbows...

 

One might begin to wonder, after reading our blogs, that teaching agriculture must be the best thing in the world... and maybe it is.  But it doesn't always go well all the time - for any of us - or at least, ME.

 

This week has been a grind - very much a grind.   I'm not sure why.  Lots of little things, some slight turbulence  or maybe the weather.  It's been cloudy, rainy and cold for the better part of the week after a short shot of 75 and sunny.  Iowa weather can be mean in the spring.  We did miss (almost all of us) the snow in SD, MN, NE, CO, KS that has bollixed their April weather patterns.  And we certainly missed the wicked twisters in the south.  But the melancholy of the weather could be part of it.

 

The students have had less energy, I'm irritated faster than normal with behavior; assignments aren't done as well as could be and that's frustrating.  I'm swamped by the usual April and May hub-bub and projects.  It seems like some days that your walking into the wind.  The next two months are always the toughest educationally.

 

We had some new CASE Biotech stuff come in and I got it all organized and put away today like it should be - a minor victory. 4% down, the other 96% of my classroom and lab to go.   The greenhouse is behind; and my students don't seem to sense the same urgency as I do towards the completion of our projects.  All in all, I'm worn out today.

 

Maybe Vince Lombardi was right.  In the long run, deep down in our hearts, we must like the grind.*  Because we pursue this thing called education with everything we have, all of our thought and energy - even though some days it seems like it drains them both at the same time.

 

But today is Friday - and after a couple days of recharge - we'll try again.  Because we like the grind....  and I firmly believe that anyone's finest hour - their greatest fulfillment - is that moment when they have worked their heart out in a good cause and lie exhausted - but victorious.*

 

Keep your stick on the ice - Remember, I'm pulling for ya; we're all in this together. Red Green

 

I'm out....

 

*adopted from "What it takes to be #1" by Vince Lombardi

Matt Eddy

Snow Day Archeology

Posted by Matt Eddy Feb 27, 2013

If your anything like me -- and let's face it -- I hope your not; snow days represent the gift of time.  And since I was already at school when it was called off - you can't turn your back on a gift like that.

 

An Ag Teachers list of things to do is never done, and much like farming - there is always something to preoccupy your time when mother nature keeps you from your primary intention that day.  For me - I have turned my back on most of that important list and have decided to clean my desk.  Yes, I said it.  CLEAN MY DESK!  Can you hear my students laughing from their snow-bound houses right now?

 

I'd like to think that a cluttered desk is the mark of genius at work, but likely it just means I don't mind working in the midst of chaos.

 

Things I found:

  • A purchase order from 2011 for some horticulture supplies I didn't need that year.
  • An invoice that I had already requested, and handed in, a replacement.
  • Some homework from last week that needed graded.  Some from last month too.
  • A Hummert Supply Catalog from 2008/2009 - the purple edition
  • Various pens and pencils that I thought were lost and it turns out they weren't
  • 36 Clorox wipes worth of dust bunnies hiding behind my computer monitor.

 

As I worked through each pile - it was like an archaeological dig in old Egypt.  Everything was piled according to importance, time of receipt, time of due date and several other various organizational methods - sometimes I could even tell where it changed methods.

 

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Well - now that I've gotten that accomplished, I better get to work on something from my list of chores.... or I could blog a bit... oooh, look shiny stuff....

 

I hope your snow days are filled with productivity and a bit of frivolity as well.

 

Share your best snow day frivolousness!

 

Follow the fun on Twitter:  @AgEd4ME

Did you ever wonder if all you ever really needed to know in life, you learned in a livestock sale barn.

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Sale day is easily one of my favorite days in farm life - and not just for the payday.  As a child, it most likely was for the candy bar I would receive from the small convenience store outside the livestock auction for good behavior.


Community - If you've never been to a livestock auction, its easy to see the importance of community.  Whether official or not, it's the next best thing to the old time switchboard operator.  You find out all the happenings in the community, catch up on the latest news, who's doing well, and who isn't.  You can get the weather report for the next 3 days or next 3 years; determine if any mentioned piece of equipment is really a good buy - sometimes 1st hand, but sometimes from a guy who knows a guy.  The flow of information is fast and continuous.

 

Pie - If the sale barn cafe is worth it's salt you'll find the best lemon meringue, chocolate raisin or butterscotch pie someplace within and will be counting the days until you return.

 

Anthropology -- the same two guys will be sitting at the counter drinking coffee no matter how long it's been since you were there last.  A little like Statler and Waldorf of the Muppet show, they are usually full of laughs, good advice, and a certain cynicism - not necessarily in that order - nor that equitable of balance.  But it's always a place for people to see and be seen and enjoy a bit of fellowship.

 

Caveat Emptor -- lessons are sometimes learned in real time and with real money.  Sometimes it's best to do your own homework, instead of copying your neighbor and varied opinions are very easy to come buy.  Evaluating all the of the information present and making real-time well informed decisions is imperative.  Sometimes you even get more than 5 seconds to think about it.

 

On Friday, I sacrificed my staff in-service on technology and a select volunteer crew of my Advanced Animal Science students sacrificed their morning to sleep in, to load and sell our calves from the Animal Learning Center.  I must say that it was an educational day and the students were put in a situation to apply their education to a new and variable real-world situation.

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We started early and by sun-up we had the calves loaded and we headed for the sale barn.  Big thanks to a former student for coming back and helping out by trucking for us.

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Thanks for reading along.  Next week is National FFA week, a bevy of activities and our sub district LDE contests on Thursday.  And the mayhem is augmented by a winter storm on Thursday threatening to dump a foot of snow.  Guess it won't be boring.

 

"Remember, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together."

 

@AgEd4ME

Or maybe you call it a different name.  Goodness knows I've used several more colorful metaphors and adjectives to describe it.

 

That gauntlet of January and February seems to be as daunting as most in the Ag Ed profession. I'm not sure how it got so busy, but I will say that we are pretty skilled at packing these two months full of fun. I doubt that my schedule is a-typical of the first two months in most ag departments.

 

Not only are State Degree's and proficiencies due the first of February, we have Pork Expo, Beef Expo, Legislative Symposium, and Sub-District LDE Contests and all the practicing that should be getting done.  Hopefully I can attend the National Ag Ed Summit via remote, bring kids and paperwork to Degree Review night, and our District Contest is the first weekend in March (So it probably doesn't count, right?).

 

I would like to schedule our annual tour to our greenhouse supplier - if I can finagle the administrators to allow it -- (budget cuts don'tcha know), our ALC cows are scheduled to have their first Preg Check to see how the AI went, calves to wean and sell in the next few weeks, and of course National FFA week activities and a couple Recruitment activities at the middle school. Plus teach class through all of that -- sometimes that seems like a vacation.

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I also need to put the chute back in the pasture since we (I) moved it to town to help with the county fair beef weigh-in, but I have to wait out the 3' snow drifts and now the mud from the thaw we had.  So now, I am waiting for a cold night for a freeze to allow me to sneak it back in before we can Preg Check.

 

Is it any wonder that spring break in March is a welcome site around here??

 

However you navigate the "Meat Grinder" - keep the faith and if you're a first year teacher -- it gets better.  Or at least I think so.

 

Follow the fun on Twitter: AgEd4ME

Matt Eddy

Oddly Analogous

Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 15, 2012

What a week.  It's only Thursday and I think I'm likely to have crammed 7 days of stuff into 5 ... typical Ag Ed right?

 

This weekend, the Advanced Animal Science class met to prep the Iowa State Fair Animal Learning Center cows for AI on Tuesday.  Lots of fun, including castrating calves. You can follow at hashtag ISFALC13 on twitter.

 

Monday: Regular day - what are those?  Lab in AFNR on using the Vernier Lab Quests for the AFNR class.

 

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Tuesday: Advanced Animal Science got to AI cows - same cows, but new kids.  It all feels oddly familiar to me.  ROTFL  After lunch in the booming metropolis of Runnells (2 bars, one church), it was time to change clothes and take another group of students to present CASE to the Governor's STEM Advisory board at Drake University.  Following that, the FFA Foundation Finance Committee met that night till about 9.  After that, I took the rest of the day off...

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Wednesday: Late Start and staff development. Enthralling.  Then Fruit Sales were due so a majority of the day was spent accounting for the funds while Ms. Anderson (Student teacher) conducted class.  She has really done a fine job and I'm excited to see her get that first job.  The chapter reached their goal - so while I am at NAAE in a couple weeks, they will have their pizza party / movie night using the big screen in the auditorium. (Ms. Anderson will earn her student teaching grade for sure)

 

Thursday: Students are presenting at the Iowa Association of School Boards conference downtown, the State Officers are here for a chapter visit and are working with the classes.  A great SO duo today and the kids are definitely having a good time.  Afterwards, I suppose I will need to go back downtown to pick up the kids.... gotta remember that.

 

Friday: Labs begin again in earnest on fetal pig dissection, using Vernier Lab Quests and horticulture projects should be nearing completion.

 

I guess it's better than being board.

 

Hope to see lots of friends and make some new ones in Atlanta in a couple weeks.

All of you that attend the National FFA Convention are probably not surprised I didn't find any time to blog on Days 4 or 5.  Frankly - the Monday after convention should be an agricultural education holiday.  Monday after convention is always a tough-it-out day.  Or at least it is for me.  I don't seem to recover as fast as I used too...

 

Overall - a spectacular trip.  The kids were well behaved, excited and really enjoying the experience.  Many commented on how the speakers were very good and I thought the line-up was better than average.  We saw all but Dr. Catlett and heard he might have been the best one!

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Back to the real world today and I hope that the next few weeks will benefit from the excitement that National FFA brings home.

 

I hope you are planning on NAAE convention (Think National FFA for grown-ups.) and I will see you there.

 

Now - about unraveling the messes from last week's classes and getting the kids back to normal.

Matt Eddy

On the road again - Day 3

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 25, 2012

And the hits keep on keepin' on.

 

A great day of convention and I have a few moments of respite tonight before the big two day push to the end.

 

This morning my students helped with the "Rally to Fight Hunger Project" and since we arrived early, several decided to work two shifts instead of the one we signed up for.  What a great group of kids!  I was so proud of their efforts today and their participation all week.

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We also attended a couple leadership workshops and of course the mammoth career fair and industry expo.  All you need to know about the agricultural industry and it's future was in the convention hall Career Expo today.  And I think the future will be in good hands.

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Enjoy some pics of today's fun and I'm excited to see how tomorrow works out.

 

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Proud to be RAMS!!

Matt Eddy

On the road again - Day 2

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 25, 2012

Another great day down at National FFA Convention 2012.

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After our brief stint in Chicago, we traveled to the Fair Oaks Dairy Farm -- what a place.  Agricultural ingenuity at it's best.  Every time I am there, I am more impressed with the operation than the time before.  The kids of course had a good time.

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We also HAD to go watch a cow give birth.  I find this highly amusing since most of the kids on the trip have seen most farm animals give birth multiple times at our fair display.  So I asked them... "What do you want to see this AGAIN for?"  Their response?  "We want to go ask all the 'silly' questions that people ask us!"  ROTFL -- Outta the mouths of babes.

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After we arrived, we headed to the opening evening session.  I would share more pictures, but forgot the camera on the bus when we dismounted.    Can I dock my student teacher's grade for not watching out for me more?? LOL   Someone has to help keep me in line and on track...

 

As the kids eat breakfast this morning - I love to think about what benefits we might have today from their attendance.  The potential is astounding and easily one of the top 5 best things with this career path.

 

Remember - it's a marathon, not a sprint.

 

Follow the fun on Twitter at AgEd4ME.

Matt Eddy

On the road again... Day 1

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 24, 2012

What else do you do at 4:30 in the morning and you can't sleep during National FFA Convention trip?

 

Edit pictures... and reflect on such a great day.

 

I think that no matter what stage of your career you are in - this has to be one of the best trips with students that you can take.  Today's educational atmosphere seldom gives kids a chance to be excited about educational opportunities, travel, opportunity to see things (even Indiana) that they would not ordinarily see and generally find out that the world is a big broad place and that there is a role for them to play in our future.

 

We took off Tuesday morning and made stops at place that does Innovation in Planters and Grain Carts : Kinze Manufacturing  in Iowa.  A whopping hour and a half from home.  And I had never been there.  A great tour of a very neat company and American success story.  The kids - as usual - were full of vigor.

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Then we drove on to Chicago to visit the Willis (It'll always be Sears to me --- The FourSquare check in information had that they needed to change the name so people would stop showing up to buy washing machines....LOL)

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It took me TWO years and a bit of gumption but I stood out in the glass box on the 103rd floor.  PHEW - I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  I'm not exactly afraid of heights, but last time up there I couldn't step out on the glass for anything.  Maybe it's the new boots...

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Topped off by a great dinner at Giordanos Famous Chicago Style Pizza  - some great food and atmosphere right next door to the Willis Tower.

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Now - I'm excited to see what today brings.  Every day of National Convention is a good one and I guess the nights are always going to be short.

 

What's your favorite part of National Convention?

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