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Work or Hobby?????

Posted by Jesus Trujillo Mar 24, 2011

     I began teaching in Hagerman as the agricultural education teacher January 10, 2000.  I was fresh out of college, with the experience of only my State FFA Vice President and President years and a strong ag program while I was in high school, behind me.  I was called by Mr. Steven Starkey, my former biology teacher and later high school principal of Artesia High School (16 miles south of Hagerman),  mentioning the possibility of building an Ag program in Hagerman.   Mr. Starkey said that the program had been defunct for three years, as the prior administration said there was a lack of interest in the program.   As a college student, I dreamed of one day going to a program that was in need of major repair and testing my strength and knowledge by seeing if I could accomplish the huge task; little did I know I would have the opportunity so quickly.  When I arrived, I was given an industrial arts schedule, focusing on welding and woodworking, with one beginning Ag class of six students.  The kids that were in my classes were students that had little to no pride in the public school system.  For years students had been allowed to leave this class when they wanted, smoke in the shop, dip and spit in the shop, and even on occasion the kids mentioned they would consume alcohol in the shop.  There had been little to no classroom instruction.  The struggles were even more than I expected, but, from day one, I had tremendous support from my administration, fellow teachers, and community.  I spent most of my first semester cleaning up the three inches of dirt on the shop floor, cleaning up all the cigarette butts left on the floor, throwing away the beer bottle caps, and repairing any salvageable pieces of shop equipment I could find.  Little by little I began to recruit kids into the program where after the first full year we increased our membership to 18 members.  The students and I traveled around the state to various competitions and activities, witnessing the awesome things FFA had to offer students.  We began competing in various Career Development Events building the excitement among the students and within the end of our second year we had fifty members in our FFA Chapter.  I was impressed by the number and talent of the students wanting to join our program.  We were climbing the ladder as we attracted some of the elite students of our school.  On the competition level, our students began winning some contests and representing our school to the best of their abilities.  By the conclusion of the third year we had surpassed the previous record number of FFA members in the 68 years of the program. We had also just moved into our new shop for which I was given permission to purchase all new equipment.  Today, we have increased our FFA membership to 70 FFA members and nearing 100 students in the Ag program.   We also now have two ag teachers in our department.  What the previous administration called “lack of interest” has turned to be one of the main interests in our little community.  I have truly been blessed!

  So this brings up the puzzling question: Work or Hobby?  Today, 11 years later, I truly do not feel that I go to work on a dialy basis.  I honestly feel that I have a daily opportunity to work while doing my hobby.  After the initial foundation work was set into place when I first started, the career road has been nothing but amazing.  Today I sit here writing reflecting on the joys of my job and reflecting on how blessed I am to have the career I have.  It is simply amazing to witness kids grow in their personal development.   I highly recommend the pursuit of a career as an Ag teacher!

Wow! FFA WEEK!

Posted by Jesus Trujillo Mar 1, 2011

Breakfast.jpgAg Awareness.jpgGames.jpg 

          Appreciation Breakfast               Ag Awareness Day                          Ag Games

 

     One of the highlights of my year as an Ag teacher is FFA Week.  It is awesome to see the students focus on promoting their organization throughout the week.  This year we had a remarkable week as we kicked the week off with our District Public Speaking Contest on Monday.  On Tuesday we participated in Official Dress Day as we wore official dress to school as an entire FFA chapter.  Wednesday we started the day off early as our members started cooking breakfast for all of our teachers and staff.  The students prepared an amazing breakfast that included pancakes, eggs, bacon , sausage, and all of the fixings.  Thursday, we participated in our Ag Awareness Day, a day focused on our third grade classes, teaching them all about our agriculture products and where they were grown.  Finally, on Friday the entire high school and middle school participated in our Ag Games.  The students truly loved every minute about FFA Week.

     FFA Week allows us as Ag teachers to reflect on the amazing benefits that our job has to offer.  FFA week allows me personally to reflect on the true passion I have for my kids and appreciate the wonderful job I have teaching Agricultural Education and FFA.

10.  The opportunity to ease your mind by building personal projects or by helping students build projects in the shop.

 

9.  The opportunity to travel all over your state and country while attending FFA activities.

 

8.  The crazy opportunity of collecting things we would have never dreamed of collecting before: bugs, grasses, tree limbs, and even dead animals.

 

7.  The opportunity of staying in a variety of hotel rooms as we take our students all over our state and country.

 

6.  The opportunity of showing our competitive side while training Career Development Events.

 

5.  The opportunity to attend stock shows, work with students and their animals, and the opportunity to serve as Mini-Veterinarians.

 

4.  The opportunity to help out our homes and communities by providing amazing community service projects.

 

3.  The opportunity for making ourselves set goals and the opportunity of teaching students to set and accomplish goals.

 

2.  The continued opportunity to belong and participate in the National FFA Organization.

 

1. The greatest opportunity, the opportunity of working with "KIDS".

 

"Find a job you truly love, you will never work a day in your life."

 

"Surround yourself with positive people, and you yourself will be positive."

It's funny, I often pray, asking God to help me prioritize my time.  There has been several times where I find myself asking him to add just a few more hours to my day to help me accomplish all the tasks I have left to get accomplished or the opportunity to add one or two more tasks to the list.  It seems that we arrive at school 30 minutes to an hour early each day to prep for the day and no sooner then we can turn around the kids are loading the bus to head home.  For nine months out of our year, a teacher lives by the bell.  In my case, we have seven 50 minute classes, and 3 minute passing periods in between.  As a teacher, when you teach from bell to bell, and you find out that three minutes flies by faster than you ever could imagine, you truly begin to build your bladder to withstand the toughest of times.  During the school year, you definitely train your mind and body to function different.

I teach in a small rural town, where most  of my FFA members are involved in every other activity on campus.  With this in mind, this leads to challenges in my scheduling, especially for after school practices for FFA.  Over the years I have began to solve some of my problems by joining my kids with their sports.  I coach Junior High football,  Junior Varsity basketball as well as assist the Varsity basketball coach.  Although this might seem like a tremendous time burden, it has truly helped me in scheduling my FFA practices and has helped my relationships amongst our coaching staff and more importantly my kids.  As you can begin to see, most of our after school practices are now after sports practices which are now starting at 5:00pm or 6:00pm.

In New Mexico, we as ag teachers do not specialize in any given area of FFA, so we find ourselves working five to six seasons out of the year in FFA.  At the beginning of the school year, starting in March or April from the previous year until the first of October, we are in our showing season. (Those that have show cattle started as early as October from the previous year)  After our show season we move on to our Creed and Quiz season throughout the months of November and December, followed by our parliamentary procedure season in December and January.  Next we take part in our Public speaking season usually held in February, and finally wrap our school year up with our intense Career Development Event season.  Most ag programs in our state start their CDE event practices in early February and last until the first of April.  Many of our ag teachers will work 14 to 15 hours a day preparing their 10 to 15 different CDE events for the state and national contests.  Lastly, the months of April and May are spent filling out National Chapter Awards, planning and preparing for banquets, and getting kids ready for state FFA convention and FFA Leadership Camp held in June.

Although this seems like so much, when you love what you do, all this works seems like fun.  When you absolutely love and have a passion for what you are doing, the hours and work load seems like nothing.  I am truly blessed to have a job that I love and kids that truly appreciate the time and effort you spend with them.

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