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I can't believe we are ready to depart for National FFA Convention again.  Seems like just yesterday we were at the last one.  I, for one, love to return to the mothership with 55,000 of my closets friends and students.  Something about that convention gets me excited for the possibilities... "I Believe" and "Infinite Potential" have been some very appropriate themes.


This past week has sped along faster than I thought that it should, but I suppose as jammed packed as it was makes for speedy days.  Which leads us to sliding into this week with the tires smoking and a small fire under the dash.


Yesterday we went out to work cows to get ready for the breeding season.  We had some special guests this time, as a few of my students were hosting an exchange trip of French students and their instructors here at the school this week.  I'm not sure if it's keeping up foreign relations, but several of them came out to the farm with us and helped work the ALC cows.  They were very interested in what we were doing, but I also think it was a bit more 'involved' than they were looking for.








A new set of kids in Advanced Animal Science means a new set of "Greenhands" to break in.  This group looks to be better than the last, albiet a bit niave about the whole process. But I think that's what makes it fun.


As we head off to National FFA this week, I hope to blog a bit about our trip and the great opportunties we will have.  I'm looking forward to the Reindeer farm tomorrow... I hear they have a pumpkin cannon....




As always, follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME

Matt Eddy

4 am and where is the bus?

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 5, 2011

The most common question that was asked yesterday by my kids -- to me and to each other -- What time did you get up?  My response and my volley in return.



Northwest Missouri State University's Fall CDE day is about as perfect as you can get.  If there is any way to make it better, I'm not sure what it would be.  Rod Barr and his crew do an excellent job of making the 11+ contests run off without a hitch.  Not only that but I can't help but be excited to involve as many students as wants to attend at one event.  Even if I have to get up well before I'm ready too to make it happen.


Dairy Cattle, Dairy Foods, Livestock, Horse, Nursery/Landscape, Floriculture -- and those were only the ones I had kids interested in.  It's great to see so many be excited about the possibilities of agricultural careers.


Keeping a herd of high school kids interested is tough indeed, but getting them on a bus at 5 am is a testament to their willingness to learn in a contextual environment.






"No one should be more interested in your education than YOU are" is something I hit them with in-between lesson plans, assignments, and class updates.


Today, it seemed they took that to heart.

Matt Eddy

The Gate Rule

Posted by Matt Eddy Sep 19, 2011

Growing up on a cattle farm always had its adventures.  From fixing watergaps to calving excitement, it was always a place of activity.  And why did it always seem that when you have something to do in town on... say Saturday night... that working cows always takes 10x longer than you think.  And if there were no plans in town... it took no time at all??  But I digress...


The Gate rule around our ranch was "Leave it like you found it" .   Driving down the road one day in my youthful days, I found one of our gates open.  Fearing it had been forgotten, I closed it.  And then got reprimanded because my uncle had to get out of the tractor when he returned with the next load of hay because he had to re-open it.  I guess the "Leave it like you found it" rule keeps you from doing harm or creating more work for others.  It also takes a fair amount of personal responsibility when working with people to always remember to finish the job at hand and trust that others will do the same.


Some times I wonder if teaching we get so busy taking care of OUR responsibilities, we forget to try and help others as much as we should.  Sometimes in the midst of trying to 'do no harm', we forget that unless we get involved - not much changes.


The University student teaching list just came out and as I look at all of the potential student teachers out there and all of the programs that they are going to travel to, I hope that as cooperating teachers, we will be able to impart upon them some of our experience, tricks and tips, and some of the other aspects that it takes to become a successful Agriculture Educator.  We need these students to fill our ranks as the heavy percentage of older ag teachers in our state, and most likely our nation, prepare to retire.  I have had several student teachers and find that each has been as good for my professional growth as I hope that their experience in the profession has been for them.


And I think that in some respects, I want to teach them NOT to 'Leave it like you found it' but rather to get involved and make some good things happen.


Some of my student teachers in all their glory!


2011 District FFA 30.JPGHorticulture 11.JPGState FFA Convetion 09 132.JPG


Follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME


Please share any great stories of your cooperating teacher - how did they help you?

Matt Eddy

Why I blog,

Posted by Matt Eddy Sep 3, 2011

and twitter, and facebook, and most whatever else comes along to tell the story of Agriculture Education.


I don't like it.




Okay - the technology part is fun.  My phone is fun to play with, I dig computers, and this Twitter thing really tweeks my melon; but....


I'm probably similar to a lot of ag teachers in that I really don't enjoy the spotlight much.  Just like turning the soil -- making a good pass isn't the goal -- making a field of them is.  And a job done well is it's own reward - I know when I've done well - the proof is layed out before me in my students and in my program.


I enjoy being behind the curtain, silently enjoying the fruits of my labor.  And if called upon, a small tip of the cap is really all I really want to do to acknowledge what small and insignificant (or huge and meaningful) part that I may or may not have played in the recent happenings.


I realize that teaching is a profession where we can profoundly impact people, and the smallest things can make the biggest impacts... but isn't it just 'all in a days work'?  I'm just trying to do my best, all day - every day; and if things go well -- well, that's how it's supposed to work.  If it doesn't, we reset the plow and try to do better tomorrow.


and that's why I blog, and twitter, and facebook....


Someone needs to tell the story -- my story, my students' stories, the stories of the Ag Department and the good things that we are doing for kids that make a difference in their educational future and their future in life.  And it's the one thing that I don't necessarily like to do.  Maybe it's the agricultural roots... you don't wait at the end of a furrow for applause; you turn the plow around, evaluate, and make the next pass....


As I embark on another year of "Day in the LIfe of an Ag Teacher", I encourage you to take a moment from the 'labor and tillage of the soil' and it's youth to 'agvocate' for your program, your students, your profession and yourself.  IF WE don't tell the story of our Ag Ed Programs -- who will?



The past three blogs have been from Jenny Lichty, a graduate student at Iowa State University, who along with Dr. Michael Retallick have been working on a project bringing Ag into the classroom in the Virgin Islands.  Some folks just get all the luck. I offered to tote their bags for them, but they weren't in need of my services.  You can follow them @jlichty30 or @msretallick


August 31, 2011 P.M.


I can think of a lot of ‘E’ words right now to define our ‘little’ hike today. It took me a little convincing to even do the hike as I didn’t bring any shoes that I wanted to get wet or dirty. That should have been my first clue. But in the end I was excited and exhausted and definitely entertained on this hike of ours.


St. John’s is approximately 8.5 miles long from east to west. Hills are an understatement for the Virgin Islands. So what we would call a valley is referred to as a ‘gut’ here. Our adventure was a hike through the gut of St. John’s island beginning at the lower campus or elementary of Gifft Hill School. To get to the gut from here, you have to bushwack through about 100 yards of vegetation, including ‘catch and keep’ plants (thorny plant that will get caught in your skin and if you try to remove it in the opposite direction that it entered, be ready for some serious lacerations) and the Christmas bush (another thorny plant that is dark green in color and the tips turn red toward the holidays). We were also warned about some crazy wasp-like insects that will attack if their hive is interrupted at all. After stepping five feet into our ‘path’ I was almost ready to turn around and regret the idea of going but I toughed it out (that and I don’t think Mike would have let me turn around).

After 40 minutes we finally made it to the creek/stream/moving water that runs along the gut (yes, 40 minutes to cover 100 yards).  Along the way we also decided to pick up trash we found. Four trash bags may seem small at the beginning but these bags quickly filled (with either trash or the water I kept dragging mine through). The first half was not bad; shallow stream, little altitude change and few mosquitos. Our guide, Miles, and National Park representative, Laurel were more than helpful to point out different plants and creatures along the way. It was easy going for awhile… until we got to the waterfall. Pretty sight, not so pretty to navigate down.


We were able to take a quick swim in a pond below the waterfall and eventually made it down the rocky structure where we thought ‘oh, tough part is over’. Boy, were we wrong.  The remainder of the hike we did a lot of deciding between two or even three paths and debated (and found out) just how deep some of the areas were. Three and a half hours later, we finally made it to our end point.  Chris, a middle school teacher at Gifft Hill, and I were the first to make it out. Arriving at our destination earlier than everyone else required keeping in motion to prevent more mosquito bites. It also meant staying loose because once we hoped in the truck to return to the school the soreness set it. Let’s just say I probably won’t be moving too much too early tomorrow!



Linley, Karie and I had the opportunity to go to town by ourselves as Jen and Mike went out to eat with one of the major donors of Gifft Hil. This was our first experience without having someone who has been here before chauffeuring us around. Because I volunteered the information that I am directionally inclined, I also volunteered myself to drive. If I haven’t mentioned this, you drive on the left side of the road in the islands. I thought it was a little weird to get used to being a passenger, it’s a completely different story when you have to drive. We made it to town safely and found the public parking lot after taking one wrong turn. A quick walk up the street to the Iguana Bar & Grille where we indulged in very American food… cheeseburgers! After the day we had, I don’t know if anything else would have been so good. And the good news, we made it back safely.


Today’s blog was brought to you by the letter ‘E’ for excited, enthusiasm, and exhausted!  With that I’m heading to bed with hopes to find an ‘I drove on the wrong side of the road – USVI’ sticker tomorrow.

August 31, 2011



Done with our workshops!  A little relief is off our shoulders and we can fully enjoy the islands now.



Here’s a little recap from yesterday:


Our day started at Gifft Hill School’s upper campus (middle and high schools) at 8 a.m.  As a group we met briefly to go over what our plan was for the day and run through roles throughout the day.  One thing I learned as an agricultural educator is to roll with the punches and take advantage of opportunities.  This is how I would best describe Tuesday’s workshop.  We had a schedule planned with activities, discussions and a tour.  However, that schedule was just a rough idea for the day.  Which is okay, we came down here to help integrate the horticultural concepts into the curriculum and I believe at the end of the day we were able to do that.



Tuesday’s workshop was for teachers who will be involved with the EARTH program this year.  They have time set aside in their schedules for EARTH labs once per week.  My goal with our workshops was to give the teachers an idea on how to incorporate the experiences of their EARTH labs into their other material.  As agricultural educators we incorporate English, math and science into our materials so this is kind of just flipping the idea around in a way.  If I have learned anything from school in-service meetings I know that some teachers are very adamant about what they have scheduled, some will do their share of voicing their opinions and others will sit, listen and take it all in.  This is kind of how the day went.  By the end of the day, we had a lot of ideas thrown out on how they want the program to fit into each of their areas and what needs to be done to make it happen. 


One idea, which I think the group favored, is to develop materials to distribute at community festivals.  There are two festivals in the spring which they want to be able to set up a booth that will include work from the students in the form of ‘How to’ brochures, data collection and even possibly items they have grown.  In addition to that they are also considering a recipe book that includes the Spanish translation and some recipes that are converted for larger amounts.  The recipe book has been done in the past. 


An idea, which the coordinator, Sarah, plans on implementing, is some stair-stepping where herself and the interns go and teach a lesson, similar to what they taught at the high school, to fourth graders and those fourth graders are able to take the information they learned and teach kindergarten students.  A lot of ideas were tossed around and compiled so that now the interns and coordinator get to look at what they have the resources to do.



To wrap up the day we went down to the beach and experienced the extremely blue waters of the Caribbean.  We saw some fish and coral and in the process accidentally tasted some of the salty water.  If the day thus far didn’t wear us out, we went to supper at a little place in downtown Cruz Bay and visited some of the shops.



Today’s workshop went well.  This group of teachers included lower level as well as high school faculty.  We had a good mix of new teachers and Gifft Hill veterans.  The focus was to bring them up to speed on the program as well as hear their feedback from previous years.  Many were interested in learning more about the program and just wanted to be in the loop on what was going on.  Communication is just as important in one area as in another.  The high school English teacher was more than willing to have her journalism students involved by writing news stories that will be printed in the paper.  A couple elementary teachers were interested in starting an afterschool club based around some of the EARTH activities.  Many were interested in how the community can be involved.  We were able to get a feel for what they believed were benefits of the program through having them write and place Post-It Notes on the wall.  They reflected on their morning of learning by constructing a concept map of what they saw as the EARTH program.  The invitation was also made by Sarah to be included to receive weekly updates on the program.  Ideas were also bounced around for helping students get the credits they need to graduate as well as posing some ideas for possible volunteer hours. 




Overall the workshops went well and I hope they are able to accomplish many of the ideas tossed around in the last two days.  The program has a great foundation and the teachers are more than willing to help in any way possible. 




Now that our workshops have been presented there are a few more meetings that Mike needs to have, otherwise our time on the island is going to be spent on a hike today, maybe some snorkeling tomorrow, and then the trip back to Iowa on Friday.


You can follow Jenny @jlichty30

August 29, 2011


Hello from Saint John’s (U.S. Virgin Islands)!  My name is Jenny Lichty and I’m going to try to write my first blog as a guest on "Day in the Life of an Ag Teacher". 


A little on my background… I graduated from Iowa State University in the spring of 2009 with a bachelor’s of science degree in agricultural education and a minor in horticulture.  I accepted a high school teaching position in Northwest Iowa where I taught 9-12 grade students in the areas of animal science, agronomy, horticulture, agricultural leadership, landscape and wildlife management for the last two years.  This summer I decided to return to ISU to work on my master’s degree in agricultural education.  I made the decision at the right time, or that’s how I guess I ended up on Saint John’s Island for this next week.


When I met with my advisor, Mike, in July, he pitched the idea of assisting with the EARTH program.  The EARTH program is a joint program between ISU and Gifft Hill School.  Using container gardens, students are able to play an active role in producing fruits and vegetables all while learning about the processes that go along with the production.  Anyway, he was scheduled to come down to the USVI to present a workshop to middle school teachers on how they can incorporate the container gardens into their curriculum.   Sounds simple right?


Mike has probably been working on this for a little longer than I have but in the last month we’ve dedicated some time to preparing and this last week (first week of university classes after two long weeks at the Iowa State Fair) we met a few times to get everything squared away.  For me, it’s using my experiences to help give the teachers at Gifft Hill School ideas on how they can use the EARTH program to help teach in their curriculum areas.  It’s about giving the students a real-life tie to the material.  We’re hoping that we can piggy-back off each other to help inspire the teachers to create some awesome ideas for lessons. 


I’ll report back on how the workshops go tomorrow.  Now let me tell you what I know about the U.S. Virgin Islands…


If you have never been to the Virgin Islands, I encourage you to try to find time.  It has definitely been nothing like I was expecting.  My thoughts and ideas of the area have gone from one extreme to the other and in no way were any of them right.  When we arrived (after a four hour flight from Atlanta), we were greeted at the Saint Thomas airport with a shot of rum (USVI tradition).  We then found our way to our rental car (a Jeep Wrangler) after waiting for Linley and Karie’s luggage (they are ISU students interning at Gifft Hill for 12 weeks).  Which by the way, things move at a slower pace down here… I guess it’s the vacation-feel of the islands?  Also, if you’re a directional sign reader, prepare yourself: very few roads are actually marked so the Google directions we had didn’t work very well.  We made it out of the airport and began our search for an office supply store (which we found after trekking extremely steep hills hence the Jeep Wrangler was a good idea). 


This is where the agricultural educator experience came in handy… we never are lost, we just like taking the scenic route and getting a feel for the area; if we passed a place more than once it just means it is important.  The office supply store was actually just a computer store but they directed us to Office Max (in the country).  More (steep) hills and tight corners later, we did get the supplies we needed and were ready to leave Saint Thomas and car ferry our way to Saint John’s. 


During the drive though, I kept thinking this really reminds me of California with the hills and curvy roads.  I was always waiting to see a four-lane highway beyond the grove of trees, but I was told I wouldn’t find one.  The car ferry took us from Saint Thomas to Saint John’s and after a long day of travel, nearly put me to sleep.  However, had I have slept, I would’ve missed some great views from the water.  Once we arrived on Saint John’s the views didn’t stop.  We made our way to where we’re staying for the next week just in time to see the beautiful sunset (which is the picture I’m including with this post) looking out from the deck of the interns’ apartment.  A brief tour of the school and a short discussion about tomorrow’s workshop and we’re all ready for bed.


From the Caribbean… good night!

CASE? What is CASE?



From the CASE website: (Just to catch you up to speed)



"CASE is the most powerful tool available for the advancement of agricultural education and enhancement of student learning of agricultural science subject matter."



CASE is an ambitious project started by the National Council for Agricultural Education in 2007. The project goal is to implement a national curriculum for secondary agricultural education that provides a high level of educational experiences to enhance the rigor and relevance of agriculture, food, and natural resources (AFNR) subject matter. Besides elevating the rigor of AFNR knowledge and skills, CASE provides purposeful enhancement of science, mathematics, and English language understanding.



CASE develops curriculum utilizing science inquiry for lesson foundation and concepts are taught using activity-, project-, and problem-base instructional strategies. In addition to the curriculum aspect of CASE, the project ensures quality teaching by providing extensive professional development for teachers that leads to certification.



The final component of CASE is assessment. CASE curriculum is designed to promote common understanding of agricultural concepts by all CASE students. By providing instruction based on common concepts, national assessments of agricultural education programs can be accomplished in ways that are valid and meaningful.



To call my finding out about CASE at all lucky is an understatement. During my tenure as President of the Iowa Ag Teachers Association (IAAE), I had the privilege to attend a National Ag Ed summit. While attending, I went to a workshop on a new Animal Science curriculum, more out of morbid curiosity than anything else. Was I to be surprised. And I liked how the facilitators talked about education.



     Was I tired of teaching the same old way I was taught? --- Hmm, well, ... yes,... but is there an alternative?



     Did I want my students to be able to think for themselves, solve problems, and be able to apply their knowledge to ag situations? --- Well, who wouldn't?



Was I looking for a fully integrated curriculum, cross-walked with national standards that increased science, math and english skills; provide everything I needed in an easy to use and find format and provide me more time to teach instead of create tomorrows' materials? --- Boy-Howdy, you got my full attention now.



I can't say that I was fully onboard from the get-go, but the more I have worked with the curriculum, taught it in my classroom, and witnessed the difference that it makes with my students -- I can say that it will take a herd of wild horses to drag me away from it.



This summer we renovated my Agriculture Lab. When the school was built a couple years ago, we weren't exactly sure of how the space would be used, but I knew that by keeping it open, we would at least have options. This summer, with help ($$) from my administration, we converted it into a fully integrated science lab that will allow my CASE courses to be taught with the proper equipment and facilities. I can't wait to get into my first lab with the students and see how it works. Enjoy the before, during, and after pictures.


SE Polk Ag Dept Lab 1.JPGSE Polk Ag Dept Lab 2.JPG

SEP Lab Before 003[2].JPGSEP Lab Before 004[1].JPG








I look forward to increasing the rigor of my curriculum and taking kids to a higher level of cognitive development. And while what I was doing before was (what I thought was) good, I now feel that my curriculum is extremely solid and that my students (and my sanity) will benefit from this adoption. In this era of high accountability, core subject area emphasis and high stakes testing -- how is your program contributing to your school and it's students' performance?



As always, follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME

As a short rain shower gives the continual flow of people that we call the Iowa State Fair a short pause, it gives me time to reflect on the craziness that ensues.  And as political candidates and pundits circle the grounds in clouds so thick you couldn't throw a pork chop on a stick and not hit one, I wonder how familiar they are with the great education that CTE programs across this country are providing for students and if they realize that contextual education is maybe the answer to the educational questions that are being thrown around.


Looking back at the history of Agricultural Education in this country, I am amazed at the ability of those forefathers to put together an educational model in the turn of the last century, that is not only standing the test of time, but is and has been churning out outstanding students who have made grand contributions to our society.  As we look at the three components -- Classroom, Supervised Agricultural Experience, and FFA - I can't help but draw parallels to the Rigor, Relevance and Relationships that has been touted as of late.


Sometimes i am amazed at how much rigor that kids can handle when you can show a contextual application, a relationship to them and how it can play into a future career.  Our project with the Iowa State Fair is a great example of how all of these aspects can come together to give students a phenominal learning environment.


IF you haven't been following along (#ISFALC11) or "Day in the Life of an Ag Teacher" on the Communities of Practice Blog - the Animal Learning Center is a display at the Iowa State Fair that has live births for patrons to view.  Cattle, Hogs, Sheep, Goats, Chickens are all being born on a daily basis and displays of baby ducks, turkeys and ostriches round out the building.  There is a Ag magic show, the way we live awards and other phenomenal displays from commodity groups.  And right in the middle of it, my students are able to work with it all.  The ability to give animal experience to kids who don't necessarily come from a 'working farm' is invaluable to my students.  Roughly 75% of my students would select the Animal Science pathway out of the 7 career pathways in Agriculture.  YET they have no experience.  This building and related projects give them that experience in a controlled and educational atmosphere and even lets them interact with the public to tell the story of Agriculture.



As the educational conversations continue, lets not forget that the CTE model can be the answer for many of the problems of student engagement, contextual learning, and integration of technology (not just computers) in the educational system.  Let's show what CTE can be.


As always, follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME (#ISFALC11 during the fair)

Matt Eddy

Where did June go?

Posted by Matt Eddy Jul 6, 2011

I can't believe it's after July 4th already.  Time surely does fly when your having fun.


My June was a blur of activity -- welcomed my 3rd child into the world, cleared my lab room for renovation, students participated in several CDE events (Iowa holds them on different dates in June), taught a CASE AFNR institute at the FFA Enrichment Center for 23 participants (20 from Iowa), and attended our IAAE summer conference. Phew.


Luckily I have a slow week this week.  Just a couple Ag Ed family meetings and my lab renovation starts next week - slow.  Almost every ag teacher has a busy summer like me and I have to restrain myself when people ask "So are you enjoying your summer off?"


After we get thru next week, County Fair rocks my socks, my Advanced Animal Science SUMMER LAB course begins and we hit State Fair and our participation with the ALC project.  And the day after that wraps up - school starts again with students on Monday.... Phew.  I can't wait for September and the pace of 'regular school'.


Enjoy some photo's from our CASE AFNR institute.

CASE AFNR 2011 Day 6 23.JPGCASE AFNR 2011 Day 6 27.JPG

CASE AFNR 2011 Day 6 110.JPG




CASE AFNR 2011 Day 6 89.JPG


As always - follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME  - I will also trend the ALC happenings at #ISFALC11 or #sepffa

Matt Eddy

Let the summer begin...

Posted by Matt Eddy Jun 1, 2011

While most teachers were checking out, finalizing their grades or making chit-chat about their summer of leisure activities; I was ... well, eh.. ahem... elbow deep in education....

ALC June Preg 17.JPG

My Summer Advanced Animal Science LAB course students were out at the pasture making a final preg-check for our Animal Learning Center cows that we manage.  With the Iowa State Fair a scant 10 weeks away, we have started our fair prep in earnest.

ALC June Preg 19.JPG

In a little under an hour and a half, my students were able to process 23 head, give shots, pour on some wormer, a good dose of medicine and get some real 'hands-on experience' in the animal sciences.

ALC June Preg 04.JPG

ALC June Preg 07.JPG

ALC June Preg 11.JPG

ALC June Preg 09.JPG

For all the extra work, it sure is a great learning experience and we couldn't be so lucky if it weren't for the partnership with the Iowa State Fair and great supporters like Palco and Dr. Gene Hoy who supervises and teaches the kids all about the animal sciences -- both in the field and during the fair with the other 6-8 species of agricultural animals.


In the picture below, we are consulting with Dr. Hoy and the kids are choosing which cows to cull, since they haven't met with production demands or our program.  6 will be sent on to greener pastures someplace else next Friday.

ALC June Preg 37.JPG

So as your year ends up - best of luck this summer.  Summer is such an exciting time to be an Ag Teacher.


Just like being home on the farm, try not to waste the daylight and make hay while the suns' shining.


Catch you later, ME

Twitter = @AgEd4ME

Facebook = Southeast Polk FFA

Matt Eddy

Project: Why Not?

Posted by Matt Eddy May 27, 2011

Saying no has always been a challenge.  Someday, I suppose I will get around to working on that....


Projects fall out of the sky it seems and this was no exception.  We got involved with the city of Altoona's project to host an overnight stop of the RAGBRAI-- (for those who don't know - click the word.)  But in hindsight, the ability to play a very small part in this Herculean task is very satisfying and the students have been very receptive and excited to work on the project.


One of the small tasks from the Hospitality committee was to put some beautifying plants around the main areas that the masses of bike riders and support personnel would be frequenting.  After several ideas, we settled on these 'buckets'.  If your familiar with Kent Livestock Lick-Tubs - you might recognize them.  Thanks to Kent Feeds in Altoona donating us 80 tubs sans 'the lick part', and the Metro Waste Authority for the donation of the compost.

Ragbrai buckets 02.JPGRagbrai buckets 11.JPG


We then set about designing and filling these buckets with various plants in order to grow a beautiful pot of plants that can be distributed around town.

Ragbrai buckets 39.JPG

In 6 weeks or so, we will be able to set them out -- now if the weather will be as nice in July as it was putting them together in May.


Follow the fun and frivolity on twitter @AgEd4ME or #sepffa.


Later, ME

Matt Eddy

Why I'm a Twit...

Posted by Matt Eddy May 26, 2011

Not a self-aware confession, but I'm sure there are a few out there who would argue...


Why I'm in severe 'like' with TWITTER:

  1. Breaking news -- I hear stuff long before the paper / news channel etc.  and it seems that news services are Tweeting more information quickly, rather than posting online.  Welcome to the information age -- if you haven't arrived yet.... catch the next train.

  2. Opinions --  I like to hear opinions that I agree with.  I also like to hear opposing viewpoints.  I follow several people specifically because I disagree with almost every word they tweet and the premises behind them.  The first step to civilized discourse is to understand the issues at hand as fully as possible.  We can't move forward together if we don't talk together.

  3. PDP - it wasn't a reason to start, but a wonderful byproduct -- when I talk about stuff I have learned from other Ag Ed colleagues around the country - my admin get glassy eyed and start to drool.  Why have teachers stopped trying to learn?  I always figured that was the funnest part of the job.

  4. A recent blog that I recommended that we should read, read, read and write, write, write.  No better way to become as self-aware as we can about this profession that is in a constant state of flux.

  5. I'm sure there are plenty more, but on to the real reason I'm a Twit.  Here's some of the stuff I'm following.  If you are on Twitter, or join - and are looking to get started -- here are some goodies.  Buy me a Pepsi next time, if you like 'em.  If not, well ... caveat emptor.


Hashtags -- The twitter-verse's answer to conversations.

#agedu - A must for the discerning ag educator.  Ag Edu topics.

#agchat - A great thread for those interested in agriculture -- the entire spectrum of our great industry.  Some lively discussions can ensue, I think, partially because of farmers who have 'auto-drive' GPS.

#plant11 - Keep a running tab on how the crop planting season is going around the nation

#teachag - Also a great hashtag for those who enjoy agriculture education.


Blogs -- Just a few of what I am following

Dangerously Irrelevant - A technology / education related blog from Scott McCloud at Iowa State University - very interesting stuff to me.

RayLinDairy - a great blog from a dairy farmer. intriguing.


#FF - which in twitter terms means Friends to Follow - or something like that.









I couldn't begin to list them all, but these will get you started and as things go -- you'll find your way.


Best wishes and give me a shout if you make it to the {Twitter} neighborhood. ME

Matt Eddy

Because they said so....

Posted by Matt Eddy May 4, 2011

I'm starting to wonder when the fun starts?


That thought was rolling around in my head as I was wrapping up my first year of teaching.  It wasn't that it was all that hard, it was the upheaval of going from a fairly normal college life to trying to live in the real world.  Also being the leader of a classroom of teenagers is probably the hardest thing in the world to do.  When they don't like you / what you are doing / or both -- life can't get much worse.  And in my first year -- I 'm pretty sure they didn't like me much at all.  Talk about upsetting the applecart -- I only stayed by sheer will and a dogged determination that I wouldn't let them win.  (and also, I wouldn't recommend the applecart process to all you student teachers out there.)


Older teachers, my own ag teacher, neighboring ag teachers -- all gave me sage advice -- and none of it sounded too good at the time.


4 years?  I wasn't waiting around in this Malthusian nightmare...; Give it some time -- Time?  I didn't have any.  LITERALLY.


I was a the ag department practically 24/7.  In fact, if they would have installed a shower, I wouldn't have needed my apartment.  Which is another thing that I probably wouldn't advise - renting an apartment that is 26 yards from the front door to your ag room.  It saves on gas, but is hard on the living.  For a large majority of the week / month - I would only see three buildings -- my apartment, my ag building (detached of course, not recommended as well) and the high school (for a very small percentage of the time, and even then felt like a visitor).


Not exactly what I had pictured when the college profs and others were chiming in with the 'Teach Ag' sales pitch ...


As I look back those 12 years ago, I begin to wonder..... How I didn't get out of this business a long time ago, I'll never know. (Too stupid to quit, is my choice) BUT on the plus side -- I'm having fun.... and that's probably worth the initial few years.


IF those sage advice givers were right all along, IF I just needed some trials and tribulations to give me some perspective.  (How can you know good times, if you haven't known bad?) -- I guess I'll never know.  But having the perspective I do now, I know that teaching Ag can be one of the most rewarding careers that there is.  It just takes some time to figure that out.  Really.


So -- Keep at it.  We've all been there, we've all done that --  some of us are even psychologically free of defects inspite of it.


AND - because I said so.

Matt Eddy

Anagnorisis and peripeteia

Posted by Matt Eddy Apr 26, 2011

Where does one begin?  Discovery and Change -- it's all around us and 'they' might be right.  You learn something new every day... twice if your paying attention.


The last month or so has been a blur, but not unlike any April since I started teaching.  It seems like when I am just wanting to kick hard for the last lap, the students are pulling to the side to puke their guts out...  The end of school is such a contrast.  The weather is nice, but we have to be inside for school work; the seniors are mentally on sabbatical, but we have a month of classwork to finish before the final grades are due; and just when you want to 'coast one out', there are things to do galore and more than you can shake a stick at.


Our Altoona baskets are later this year than typical, but they will probably turn out fine when they go out next week, during our Senior SCIP (Senior Community Improvement Program) Day activities.  The kids work hard on them and they make the downtown look really good during the summer.  Plus, having projects that are 'fill to order' in the greenhouse allows for great learning experiences and the students take a lot of ownership in the baskets.

Greenhouse Baskets 06.JPGGreenhouse Baskets 02.JPG

Greenhouse Baskets 04.JPGGreenhouse Baskets 07.JPG



State FFA convention went well.  Our freshman Conduct of Meetings team competed and represented themselves and our program well.  In some greater good, non-competitive side of me, I think that I do agree with the quote - "The Journey is the Reward".  I'm sure in a few years they won't remember exactly how they did, but will be able to use the skills they developed for a lifetime....




I had my first "Iowa Star Finalist in Ag Production" this year and Southeast Polk's first as well.  Very satisfying for me, as this girl was a model FFA member, works hard, is a great person to be around, chapter president, wants to be an Ag Teacher (despite the ag teacher she got saddled with for her high school career ).  Can't wait to see what exciting things she will accomplish in her future.  Sometimes, you couldn't pay me enough to come back on Monday and sometimes, I'd do this job for free.  This is probably a great example of the latter.


Our ALC cows for the Iowa State Fair's Animal Learning Center (ALC) are pregged and we will probably check them again in late May / Early June to narrow down the birthing window a bit and let the kids get a chance to palpate as well.  If you follow Twitter, #ISFALC11 is what I will use as we get into the fair season.




I leave for Nicholasville, KY this weekend (Friday) for CASE LEAD teacher training.  I can't wait to see some of the great teachers that are involved in this project.  Nicholasville is a 'make your own fun' kinda place, but we manage to have a good time.  Ag teachers are an entertaining bunch, for sure.  It's actually pretty intriguing to me how similar we all are, but how different our geographies can be.




If you haven't checked CASE out yet -- you should.  It ain't your daddy's agriculture, so if you find yourself shopping around for a better curriculum (that you don't have to create from scratch), need to beef up the science you teach, or are plain looking for a better way;  you might want to investigate or talk with teachers across the nation who are using it.


I'm also pretty excited to see what story's emerge from across the country -- what kids like / don't like, how well it's received, what other states think of it, who is getting science credit, etc.  I can't believe I'm getting excited about curriculum, but the potential is outstanding.


As always, follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME


Hakuna Matata, ME

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