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Matt Eddy

The new STEAM train...

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 18, 2012

STEM,                         STEAM,                     National Core,  

 

Iowa Core,           standards based grading,               competency based education,    

 

budget woes,                     do more with less,                     NCLB,

 

CTE core completers,                ACT,                SAT,

 

Standards monitoring...

 

It seems like the bombardment of educational buzzwords is like the flurry of punches from a fast-moving welterweight. Floyd Mayweather Jr. even...

 

What are we doing to make sure that Agriculture Education -- in all of it's glory -- is a part of the current educational conversation?  We have a lot to offer, but are we in a position to offer it?

 

Lately I have been reflecting on my changing educational philosophy and how it drives what I do and where I focus my time.

 

Once upon a time, I was wholly concerned with the 'what' I was doing.  Which activities we did, what projects we got done, in and out of school - you know the drill. The 'how' always got answered somewhere along the timeline of the 'what' and Larry the Cable Guy would have been proud of our "Git-R-Done" prowess.  But "Why"?

 

I was doing things well, things were humming along, but the more I reflect on it - I was missing the bigger picture of "Why".

 

In the current educational climate - especially in Iowa -- I think that we need to start asking ourselves about the 'Why'.  And once we can comfortably talk about that - the 'What' and the 'How' start to become rather easy to answer.  In fact - they fall into place like railcars; behind the engine of 'Why'.  And I certainly think that the 'Why' should be the engine on this train.

 

Southeast Polk recently under took two things that make this blog a little more relative to me.  And I think that more and more schools will start to follow suite (if not done so already) - especially in Iowa.

  • We started a comprehensive High School study to be compiled in about 18 months - the quote is from the Des Moines Register story I can't find online anymore.
“If study produces the expected results by raising student achievement and creating a
leaner, more dynamic, fiscally responsible organization”

               Alternately exciting and scary to be sure...

 

  • We started talking about how we are meeting the Iowa Core - which is very much (or exactly) like the Common Core.  One particular focus is 21st Century Skills.
    1. How do we get EVERY HS student that walks out our doors these 21st Century Skills -- and how does CTE get involved in that?
    2. How else does CTE contribute to the common core and more specifically - How do you know?  (i.e. - Prove it)
    3. And how does CTE meet Iowa Core in other areas.

 

And so as this STEM conversation develops, it has always been my feeling that we should add an "A" to it and make STEAM. Exhibit #1, Exhibit #2 (Unfortunately - #3 -  the USAToday Education piece "Let's make STEAM" has disappeared too - Internet gremlins, I suppose).

 

As results of our Governor's Iowa STEM Scale-Up grant roll in (Some great benefits to Iowa Ag Ed) - The realities of the educational debate are all around us.  I hope that we can answer the bell and be a valuable contributor to those conversations.

 

Look forward to seeing everyone on the trail.  National FFA Convention 2012 - here we come.  Follow the fun @AgEd4ME on twitter.

 

What current educational theories are you either implementing or considering?

Greetings and Salutations!

 

This homecoming week is brought to you by the letters H and L which stand for "Hoop-La".

 

Thanks for making it back to our "Day in the Life of an Ag Teacher" blog and following along.  I am excited to continue this experience and look forward to sharing with you as we embark upon another year.  My name is Matthew Eddy and this will be my 14th year teaching.  Seems a bit weird that I have been in school for 31 years of my life...   I have been at Southeast Polk for 9 years now and have enjoyed it very much.  We seem to get entangled in many different projects and activities throughout the year and I hope you enjoy following along.

 

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This year while I was checking the cows from the Animal Learning Center (see Janice Person's Blog here) - prior to my Advanced Animal Science class taking over -- I found one more calf than we should have had!  We had 13 at the fair, 1 calved in the pasture after the fair - making 14.  But as I was checking them, I kept counting 15!  Seems someone needs their grade adjusted for the Preg Checking Lab... but I suppose since the Vet got fooled too, maybe I shouldn't be too hard on them.  

ALC June Preg 09.JPG

 

Lately, we have been busy with some early fall CDE events (Soils and Dairy Cattle / Dairy Products) and getting our CASE on in the classroom.  My student teacher has been doing well and I am trying to wrap my head around having one in the fall.  It's a different experience from the traditional spring placements.

 

Don't be afraid to chime in or ask questions via the comments section.  I know all our bloggers would love to hear from you and socialize a bit.

 

Remember to keep a eye on the horizon, but don't be too afraid to chart your own course.  You never know when you might find your +1.

 

As always, you can follow the fun on twitter at AgEd4ME 

 

Time to saddle up and ride....

Matt Eddy

Hurricanes and Musicals

Posted by Matt Eddy Aug 24, 2012

I'm watching the name-sake of my youngest son work its way across the Caribbean and trying to tough out the first week of school.  "Fair Fever" has afflicted me all week - allergies, fatigue, not being at the fair, being in new air conditioned environment; - whatever - it's making me miserable.  A close cousin to "John Deere Cab Fever".

Hurricane Isaac.PNG

I hope that those in the path are making proper preparations, because my little Rum Tum Tugger can be a pretty ornery little boy.

 

I have a new student teacher this fall - the first time for a fall placement - and i think she will do fine. Heather is currently teaching the second section of my Animal Science class.  CASE curriculum sure does make it nice to have a consistent presentation across sections.  I was never very good with multiple sections getting the same 'show'.  I definitely have to appreciate the consistency it brings.  No matter if I am teaching, a student teacher is at the wheel or a substitute (Like what should be here today). Sniff, Snort, Honk.

 

The Iowa State Fair was a GREAT success - and I'm not just talking about the temperate weather - which was B-E-A-UTIFUL.  We calved 14 cows (13 at the fair and 1 in the pasture the day after) 8 litters of sows (one with a whopping 19 alive), a multitude of goats and sheep (too many to count) and plenty of chickens and ducks.  It still is a project that takes an enormous amount of effort, but my students are becoming very exceptional at stepping up to the work we have to undertake.  In fact, my summer lab class did more, BETTER, than any in the past.

 

 

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Like Rum Tum Tugger - sometimes we aren't satisfied with what we've got. My goal for this year is to realize the good in what we do and the 90% of this job that makes it worth while. Sneeze... And I hope you do to.

 

I hope this year kicks off well for everyone else, you aren't fighting off a sickness and the kids are learning.

 

As always, follow the fun on Twitter = AgEd4ME or with hastag ISFALC13 or sepffa

Matt Eddy

Life is good today

Posted by Matt Eddy Jun 19, 2012

Ah, summer.... that magical time caught someplace between being young and growing up.  As educators, we get to live in a world that is continually changing the seasons and the inevitable arrival of summertime. Every year we get to experience the joy of finishing another school year, the first real taste of summertime, and the inevitable feelings that come with those first days of a new school year (again).

 

My summer got slammed by a left hook from reality and a short jab of 'that's how it is'. 

 

I just finished CASE Plant Science in Iowa with 19 other wonderful instructors and two very good lead teachers. We had a great time, learned a lot and definitely left with some great new skills to apply. This week, we are hosting the NAAE Region III conference in Iowa and I look forward to spending some time with the great teachers from other states; then IAAE convention, then to teach CASE AFNR in Ohio; then the Polk County Fair, then a week to spend some time with family and then my summer Advanced Animal Science Lab and then the ALC at the Iowa State Fair. The day after we finish the state fair - we start school with students. I'm not sure I even caught a glimpse of summer in there. Or at least not the summer some folks think about.

 

My friend Scott, teaches Math (hey - we can't all be aggies) and lives in San Diego -- where I hear you should go if you love the beach life.  He works hard at the pool side / beach life and I'm sometimes very envious of the laid back style that his summer takes on.  I'm even more envious as he jabs a little at the working folks (and me) for having to work while he recreates.

 

But I'm not sure that I would trade my summer for his.  Granted, I would love to have some time to just do 'whatever', but I don't think it could be as impactful.  I suppose that we all find our own paths thru this maze we call life.

 

For those who didn't know - a well known broadcaster in Iowa passed away too soon a few weeks ago.  Mark Pearson was a friend to agriculture and a charismatic soul who never knew a stranger.  I always admired what he did for agriculture and more so, the way that he went about doing it.  And busy -- whew - that guy had irons in the fire - and then built a few more fires.  For sure a life ended too soon, but one that left a huge legacy for agriculture - probably more than we will ever know.

 

 

As I reflect on the time we spend - and where we spend it - this thought comes to mind; Live a little more today, worry a little less about tomorrow, and remember the only thing you take with you is what you leave behind.

 

Here's hoping your summer is just what you need it to be.

 

As always, follow the fun on twitter @AgEd4ME

Matt Eddy

Aristotle the Ag Teacher?

Posted by Matt Eddy May 2, 2012

Aristotle is credited with the following:

 

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

 

As I sit here monitoring my obligatory study hall assignment, I wonder, educationally, what we are turning out?  Frankly, anyone who thinks teaching is easy ought to try it in May.  A bright, sunny, temperate May.  The Seniors are dressed like they are going to the beach (probably just preparing for their future lives), just finished a impromptu water-fight in the parking lot (receiving scowls from teachers and sanctions from administrators); the juniors are wishing they were seniors and are furiously scribbling crib notes for next year's hi-jinx.  The sophmore's are chatting and the freshman are wondering what all the fuss of finals is all about... and I am not so naive to think that this scene isn't being played out in schools across the nation to some degree. 

 

Where is this leading?  I would be lying if I said I knew.

 

But as that quote from Aristotle bumps around in my head, I wonder.  Are today's youth being encouraged to think critically?  Drill and press all you like, but a nation of lemmings is not something I wish to foster unto my nation, much less my state and even much less my community. 

 

Is my Ag program positioned to contribute significantly to the future workforce?  Is Ag Ed across the nation ready to meet this challenge? 

 

In the past couple weeks, I have toured three major global agricultural companies (located within a proverbial stone's throw) from my school.  Toured them with dignitaries, the 9th most important man in our United States Government (A prize if you know the reference), and other various VIP's - and not once did I hear anything about better test scores.

 

In fact, I specifically asked "What do you look for when you hire people?"

 

Almost verbatim:

 

"We want to hire you for your brain, not your brawn - we have machines that do the physical parts of this job.  We need people that can operate the machines, think and solve problems."

 

 

"We want creative thinkers, people who have varied and interesting backgrounds and want to make a difference, contribute to something - not just collect a paycheck."

 

 

"We want to hire collaborative workers - people who can communicate and work with others.  You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you can't communicate it - it's no good."

 

 

So after visiting these places and hearing these thoughts on what kind of workers they are looking for -- I wonder how I can prepare my students for these eventualities of their future.  'Cause with a little luck - they will find themselves at these very successful and wonderful places to work.

 

One thing is for sure -- it's something I may not find on a standardized test.

 

Comments, Quips, Concerns??  Feel free to share.  Just between you, me and 7000 others.

Ken Lym got me to thinking.  A great question with no answer.  I'll post my reply below, but I would like to ASK YOU -- How do you become a successful ag teacher??  Submit reply's below.  What does it take??  How will I know??

 

Enjoy, ME

 

Guess it depends on your definition of successful...

 

Continually learn, reflect, and change, ... then repeat.

 

Join your professional organization (NAAE and state ag teacher group).

 

Be curious, inquisitive, and enthusiastic

 

Be empathetic, kind and helpful

 

Do your best, give it what you got, and realize you can't be everything for everyone.

 

Do what's best for kids.

 

Work professionally with your colleagues.

 

Check out CASE ... might be the best thing you ever did.

 

Read --- educational literature, blogs, opinions, stories -- stay current.  Entertain new ideas without necessarily accepting them.

 

Challenge yourself and your students

 

Back up your computer

 

Realize that failure is probably the best educator.

 

Focus on teaching

 

Caffinated beverages....

 

That'll get you started.

Thanks everyone for playing along -- I hope it was fun.

 

I hope everyone helps at least 1 or 2 colleagues find the NEW CoP (Communities of Practice).  We have much to share with one another and a rising tide will float all boats.

 

Last weeks winner: Michael Peiffer

NR Succhi disk.JPG

"Chootem Clant Chootem!"

(reference to Swamp People on TV)

 

Last week -- Hope everyone has a great finish to the year.

 

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Matt Eddy

Caption Contest #3

Posted by Matt Eddy Apr 9, 2012

Hey - Thanks for playing along gang. Be sure to share with you friends on CoP and those that may need the introduction to CoP.

 

Last Weeks Winner:

 

@Richard_Douglass

 

ALC 2 5.JPG

"Hello EBay seller XV36554  about this pigskin covered laptop cover...."

 

Here is week #3 -- only two left - don't be left out.  You can't win if you don't play.

 

NR Succhi disk.JPG

Matt Eddy

Caption Contest #2

Posted by Matt Eddy Apr 2, 2012

I was late last week.  I am hoping to do this on Monday each week.  Only 4 of them.  There is no limit to how many times you can enter -- but quality often trumps quantity. FWIW

 

Last Weeks Winner: Melanie Bloom

 

ALC - Preg Check 179.JPG

"He's never going to find that flash drive in there.  I really hid it this time!"

 

Congratulations.

 

This weeks Picture -- Enjoy, ME

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Matt Eddy

Caption Contest Rides Again

Posted by Matt Eddy Mar 28, 2012

In celebration of the new and improved Communities of Practice, National Ag Day, Week, Month and Teach Ag in DC this month, we will play the caption game again.

 

Rules are simple:

  1. Reply with your most creative, entertaining, yet appropriate caption for the picture in question.
  2. Winners will be selected by committee.
  3. Prizes will be selected from around the Ag Department here, but I'm sure they will be FAB-ulous.
  4. Enjoy.

 

We will play for 4 weeks.  Here is #1.

 

ALC - Preg Check 179.JPG

 

Have at it.

As we near National TEACH AGday, I wanted to talk a bit about the Teach Ag in DC 2012 project.  A phenomenally good idea from the Teach Ag campaign, 6 students from AFA (3) and FFA (3) were selected to teach a lesson on agriculture to 7th grade students in Washington, DC during National Ag Week.

 

Three teachers were selected from around the country to help mentor 3 pairs of students in their lesson preparation, classroom management and also to answer their questions about the profession.  Not only could this not be a better idea, but the students were phenomenally talented specimens.  If this is the future of agriculture education, we are indeed in good hands and the rest of us are going to have to step up our game a bit.  These young pups are gonna be game-changers.

 

Teach Ag in DC Group.JPG

 

After arriving in DC, we met on Tuesday afternoon to finally meet one another after a few months of emails and conference calls. After trial runs of each lesson, we tried to help them refine their lessons for their intended audiences, identify places where they may have difficulty with students and generally get a feel for how a real lesson in the classroom would look.

 

Wednesday the students were busy with other Ag Day activities and I was able to take in a few sights of DC and meet with some elected leaders.

 

Teach Ag in DC 5.jpgTeach Ag in DC 4.jpg

Home Decorating thoughts -- I thnk this would look good in my basement...

Tagged along with the Iowa CTE delegation to see Senator Harkin (IA - Center) and

talk about the DoL Child labor law changes.

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Thought about shopping for my wife, but this one was spoken for...

you miss all the good deals when your late to the sale.

Considered a "Ding and Dash" but thought I wouldn't have time to hide in the shrubery.

 

 

Thursday afternoon - we taxied over to Stuart-Hobson Middle School to work with our cooperating teacher - Mr. Creef.  Mr. Creef is indubitably an Ag Teacher in his heart.  His rooms were filled with exciting, engaging activities, experiments and poster-charts of student projects.  He was totally student driven and wanted them to be fully engaged to his process but also to learn about the world around them.  He even takes students to Montana/Wyoming each year to get them a taste of what ranch/rural life is like.  After three days of hopping Metro trains, I can empathize and felt as much out of my element as they must feel in the west.

 

Header 1Header 2
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Mr. Creef's students were exceptional -- they were receptive, engaged and excited to learn from our student teachers.  I probably learned more from student teachers and 7th graders, then they learned from me.  I have always said that kids are kids no matter where you go. 

 

A great project and couple days in our Nation's Capitol during National Ag Day.

 

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Group 1 – Mentor Teacher Aaron Geiman, North Carroll High School – Maryland

Jodi Boe – NDSU (Right)

Bethany Markway- Missouri State (Left)

 

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Group 2 – Mentor Teacher Matt Eddy, Southeast Polk High School - Iowa

Josh Johnson – SDSU (right)

Jenna Moser- Penn State (left)

 

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Group 3 – Mentor Teacher Robin McLean – Northern Burlington County School District – New Jersey

April Johnson – SDSU (Right)

Nina Miller – Virginia Tech (Left)

 

 

A great experience and I can't wait to see where it goes next year.

 

Later, @AgEd4ME

Matt Eddy

I'm gonna get shot...

Posted by Matt Eddy Feb 14, 2012

...either way.

 

After observing the fire (tweet / video) storm that followed the airing of the Chipotle commercial during the Grammies, I was trying to figure out exactly what the fervor was all about.

 

I've watched several retort videos from ag groups.  I'm starting to wonder why we are barking at each other - aren't we the different sides to the same coin?  Aren't we both working to feed people?

 

For those who live under a rock without Social Media:

 

Chipotle

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/aMfSGt6rHos" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

Ohio Pork producers

 

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/vbdB9WOICyo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

I really think that the free market will eventually sort out the future direction of agriculture.  IF100% of consumers bought into the local, grassfed, organic movement we would need some 4 million more farmers.  I see a real opportunity for Agriculture Education in that figure.  Who will educate all these new farmers??  WE will.

 

With a world population rising in exponential numbers, we will continue to need to raise more and more food.  I don't see the conventional production practices going away anytime soon either. (Although a precipitous rise in diesel fuel might make that happen faster than anyone wants to admit - but I digress).

 

Seems paradoxical ...  doesn't it.    If you haven't seen the documentary American Meat I would suggest it.  I had the opportunity to screen the movie at my school with producers, students and community members and the filmmaker participated right along with us.  The conversations were priceless.  This conversation in agriculture is a real one - and I don't believe that it will go away.

 

I don't find Chipotle is attacking modern agriculture, but they are providing for a niche market and also providing a market for small producers.  McDonalds is moving to end gestation crates -- are they just reacting to consumer demand?  This is a complicated issue and one that is best approached genuinely by both sides with open lines of communication.  After all, we are trying to reach the same end.

 

Agvocate = opening the lines of communication and finding common ground -- not lamblasting the other side with why your 'right'.

 

I'm not sure I can, with good conscious, find that either video is 'right' -- but there is definitely a war of PR going on. Before you pull the trigger on the good vs bad gun -- realize that both sides have plenty of ammo and apparently aren't afraid to use it.

 

Can't we all just get along??

 

 

And for the record - musically Willie blew Coldplay out of the water with his cover.  Just sayin'

Matt Eddy

Much too Young...

Posted by Matt Eddy Feb 1, 2012

... to feel this dang old.

 

It seems that the years all run together after a while and I can't seem to differentiate between them.  "We already did this...?" "Have I told you (class) about ...?" "Which period is this?"

 

January and February seem to be a bit harder than most when it comes to maintaining your bearings.  All the awards, degrees, programs, activities, planning -- oy.  And then teach a few classes in the down time between 8 and 3.

 

We took 30 kids to the Iowa Pork Expo last week -- they hold a judging contest that has some good learning stations incorporated as well.  Most of my students have little ag or PIG background, but we still had a couple in the top 15 of the contest. Go figure.  It is also nice for them to mingle in the trade show and get a real feel for how encompassing the pork industry is in our state - since we lead the nation.  Invariably I have students comment about how they never knew 'such and such' company was related to pork production.  Which is good exposure, IMO.  You never know where the next job offer may come from.

 

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This week, aside from Iowa Tests (Standardized testing two days), our Legislative Symposium (above), we have our District FFA review night for Iowa Degree's, proficiencies, officer books, and District Officer interviews on Thursday.  Whew.  Cap it off with the District Wrestling tournament on Friday and you have a busy week.  Oh yeah -- also preg check the Animal Learning Center cows (below) , castrate, vaccinate and wean calves and send them to sale too. 

 

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What day is today again??? 

 

To sleep would be best, but I just can't afford to rest

Io-wa Degree's are due tonight... (sorry Garth)

 

Follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME

Matt Eddy

Auld Lang Syne

Posted by Matt Eddy Dec 21, 2011

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?

CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my jo (or my dear),
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

 

Burns’ original Scots verse

Another semester closed … almost.  As we wrap things up here and try to tie a nice bow on it, I can’t help but reflect on the year(s) and reminisce about years gone by.  It also probably doesn’t help that old students like to stop by this time of year and visit a bit or sometimes longer.  By far and large, if you can stay in this game long enough… those are the best visits I think that an Ag Teacher… or any teacher can get.  Even if they just want to fill out an American FFA Degree application. ;-)

 

I went back thru the archives and picked up some pictures from years gone by… a trip down memory lane if you will.  It’s probably a good time of year to take stock and re-orient for the new semester.  I hope the best of your past is the worst of your future. (and I re-learn that when I stay behind the camera, I'm not in front of the camera... sneaky kids got me a couple times over the years).

 

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Rule #1 - Don't let the kids have the camera...

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Zach is now stationed with the Coast Guard in Kodiak, Alaska.  I hope I never require his services, but would be dang glad to see it was him coming to my aid.  A kid you felt privileged to teach.  And the more I reflect on years gone by, and these pictures -- a very large majority of my past students fall into that category. Even including a few who probably wouldn't think that they belonged in it.

Jim and Taylor - Champ Res.jpg

Taylor and Jim: I seldom ever saw one without the other... even in the show ring.

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My First trip to National Convention at SE Polk (and the inception of digital photography for our chapter).  A super group to get me broke in right. ;-)

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National Western Meats team - I just drove the bus... literally.  This bunch was a group of go-getters.  Huge futures ahead, each one of them.

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Animal Science hatching chicks -- as big of a PR hit as I have ever had.  Remarkable how excited kids were ... and they weren't even my students!

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Once again, don't let the kids have the camera...

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My first, and to date, only chapter test plot.  And true to their motto, FC and Kent made it happen. "Together we CAN".

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Students preparing Rocky Mountain Oysters.

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And I found some time while at State Convention to show them my favorite haunt in college.  Memorial Union Rec room. 

 

I hope that this holiday treats you well; you and yours are healthy and close this holiday season. 

And for the record, I’ll take another cup o’ kindness yet… for auld lang syne.

Follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME

Matt Eddy

Addiction?

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 28, 2011

Is teaching Ag addictive?  Should there be a surgeon general warning on the door to my classroom?  Addiction is the only plausible answer to my madness.

 

I'm brandishing some 'Blink 182' at an awfully high volume right now so this blog could be different: Caveat Emptor....

 

10% of this job creates 90% of my headaches, I swear... and ironically enough its the 10% I can't control, influence, or use a cattle prod to get moving... Sigh

 

It's been an interesting week on the other 90%.  We did some great agar bacteria plates in Animal Science -- the kids liked the scenarios in CASE Animal Science 3.3.2.  We had some good nastiness growing already today and it makes a good example for biosecurity on a farm, greenhouse, or food processing facility.  The point gets driven home pretty well, I think.

 

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National Convention was a blast and I now suffer from the unavoidable hangover of returning to the real world.  See the above 10/90 rule.  We probably had as good a National Convention has we have ever had.  First two American Degree's in chapter history, Vivian was an Agriscience Star Over America, my principal flew out to be with us Friday night and Saturday morning (re-affirming that I will miss our current administration if they leave), a great group of 10 chapter members who were the most well behaved and exciting group to work with during our trip. I just wish I could live in that world all the time...

 

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IMAG0313.jpgIMAG0311.jpg

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My Horticulture class is creating a hydroponics unit and another group is creating an aeroponics set-up.  Props to Tom Murray at North Linn, Iowa for the idea and getting us started down this road.  Should prove interesting and hopefully educational.

 

Horticulture Projects 01.JPG

 

Well, 'Skid Row' brings me to the completion of another week.  Maybe a restful weekend, a good Game 7 tonight and I'll feel like taking another crack at this thing on Monday.

 

Have a great weekend.

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