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Nathan King


Posted by Nathan King Jun 18, 2017

Wether you are a Five Man Electrical Band Fan or Tesla Fan you probably know the song Signs.  Agricultural signs are everywhere, trespassing, biosecurity, and food handling to name a few.


Agricultural signs is a lesson on the many rules and regulations that come with participating in agriculture. At the end of the lesson students will be able to create their own sign that explains a law that is agriculturally related. Mostly used in a wildlife class setting this lesson can be used in a Food Products and Processing class.


The food lab has bare walls. As I guide the class through HACCP, GMP, and SOP I give each student a sign to make as part of the food safety unit. Students are given the overall safety rules of the foods lab and must create signs for the foods lab that show all of the rules. Students are required to find and print signs for the purposes of sinks, how to store food, and how food is labeled.


Students also make signs for appropriate attire, no food or drink in the lab, and hand washing directions.


It is a fun lab for students to create their own study guide for a safety test before processing any food. Students can use the signs as a guide/are hung on the wall for them to use as notes during the test.


It is a great way to give students the responsibility of food safety and begin discussions on the different requirements of HACCP.

Nathan King

Welcome to the Machine

Posted by Nathan King Mar 15, 2017

Welcome to the Machine is a summer school class that explores machines of agriculture. Primarily an introduction to tractor restoration, Welcome to the Machine is a class that also explores other machinery. Partnering with community groups like the Coulee Region Antique Engine Club to learn the history of agricultural machinery will enhances the curriculum. Students will learn basic tractor troubleshooting and repair as well as the history of agricultural machinery.

Activities that the class could organize and participate and include but are not limited to:

  • Drive your tractor to school day
  • Antique Tractor Display
  • Organizing a community tractor ride
  • Restoring/repairing small engines/farm equipment
  • Restoring a tractor
  • Attending antique tractor shows
  • Purchasing toys for toy tractor show for machinery identification activity


The class would meet 2-3 times a week as needed throughout the summer.

This year I have decided that my food products and processing class final will be developing a new product. To better connect this project with FFA and the industry I plan to introduce the project with a Triangle Test. A Triangle Test is what food scientists use to test the difference between two different products. Two famous internetainers conduct this kind of test often. The comedic duo Rhett and Link have done the Wal-Mart and Costco challenges on their show Good Mythical Morning along with other exotic food tests.

So to introduce a food tasting lab and to bring in a bit of humor and a basis for discussion I plan to play a Good Mythical Morning video for students and discuss how taste of the foods were described on the show. If needed for a prompt to students to use vocabulary words, Jimmy Fallon's Word Sneak game could also be employed. When describing foods to one another or answering a question students must sneak words into their explanations.

The resource link for this post and also a lab on the Taste Triangle:

Last week I finished my first summer school classes. I taught two classes every day of the week. The classes were; Filling the Cupboard: A Course in Modern Gardening Practices and Community Service and Summer Sausage.


Filing the Cupboard had 4 students out of the 7 signed up attend. The school recently moved its four 8'x4' raised beds to nearer the agriculture room. Each student in the class was then able to design and plant a raised bed. The first 30 minutes of the course were spent looking at the different seed packets and planning the gardens on paper. Once the gardens were planned and the students were able to successfully read a seed packet we went out and planted the gardens. The students immediately took ownership of their gardens and got to work weeding and planting. On the second day of class it was cold and bleak outside so we stayed inside for an hour and transplanted vegetables. Students also planted hanging baskets and took plant cuttings from plants left over from the FFA plant sale. By the end of class it had warmed up enough outside to finish up a few things in the raised beds. The third day of class the students planned and planted a pumpkin patch. Earlier in the year a community member wanted the school to use some of his land as a school garden. The Filling the Cupboard class used this land to plant pumpkins that can be harvested in the fall for classroom and FFA activities. The fourth day of the course I had to pull out a rainy day plan. The students got to work in the greenhouse for the entire class period. They set up the hydroponics system and started lettuce plants in rockwool cubes. The last day of the course students went outside and weeded their gardens and went to the pumpkin patch to add more seeds to each of the hills.


Summer Sausage had 11 out of the 13 students attend. This course utilized the school's meats lab and meat processing equipment. The first day of class students helped start up the charcoal grill and leaned all of the food safety procedures by making burgers by two different processes. The first process was a burger press and the other was by hand. In the hand made burger students made a dimple in the middle so that when the burger cooked and expanded that it would have the ideal burger shape. Students observed that the flat and thin burger pressed burger warped as it cooked. The second day of class students learned knife skills and how meats are cured by making jerky and beef snack sticks. With many students, the meat for the snack sticks was bought pre-ground. The meat for the jerky was tempered in the freezer for easy cutting. Students were split into groups and given roles within each group. It was a good lesson on cross-contamination. The meat students were working with for the jerky was chicken thighs. This could not be cross contaminated with the all beef of the snack sticks. Students worked efficiently and prepared both recipes well. The downside of creating these foods on the same day was that there wasn't any food that needed to be cooked at the end of the class for the students to eat. The third day of class, students stuffed the snack sticks and smoked them. Students were excited to have the choice of which types of wood chips to use for smoking the products. Smoking both products in one day didn't allow for the chicken jerky to have enough time to smoke while the students were there. To speed up the process for drying the chicken it was placed in the oven at 275 for 10 minutes or until the thickest piece was over 165 degrees. The fourth day of class, students made summer sausage. The summer sausage was easy to put together. Using pre-ground meat to save time the students learned to use the sausage stuffer for a larger fibrous casing. The class made 10 lbs of summer sausage. The last day of the class students finished making the summer sausage. The students also made bratwurst. The end of the class was celebrated by grilling the fresh sausage. Students went home on the last day with jerky, summer sausage, snack sticks, and bratwurst.

The Art of Manliness posted a video about cooking meat on a shovel. This got me thinking of how I could use it to sell my classes. It would be a lesson on cooking temperatures and dry heat vs moist heat products. For this lesson students would have the option to BYOM (bring your own meat). The lesson before would explain the meat cuts that were dry vs moist heat. The homework assignment would be to bring a dry heat cooked product. If students forget or do not have the means to get some meat a hamburger will be provided for them. The video says that a shovel costs about $15 each. It also explains that some have been used and washed and sterilized. Students can pair up meat on one shovel but they must keep them together by species. Students that don't want to eat the meat can help out and prepare vegetables and grill them on a shovel. Possibilities are endless!


If your class is before lunch, have students prepare their meat. Talk about proper sanitation and cleanliness of the shovel. Discuss what temperature they think is "hot enough" to kill anything harmful. In addition have students list what temperature they need to get their meat before they eat it. Students can then prepare the fire for the shovels and begin the sanitation process. Students can then return during lunch to throw their meat on the shovels and prepare themselves a good meal. They can't eat their meat until they can prove it has been cooked to the correct temperature. I have some roasters in my classroom so when we do class meals I prepare some baked beans and another vegetable to go along with the meat.


The next day would be a reflection day. What went well about the shovels? What could go wrong with using a shovel? What temperature did you need to get to prevent _____________ disease?


If you have a soils team, this would be a great activity to use at the end of the summer.

I have been teaching Food Science for the 4 years I have been teaching. However, I haven't taught a full dedicated semesterised course of Food Science until this year. One of the hardest portions of the class for me to teach was HACCP. The students understood the 7 principles. If I gave them a fill in the blank or matching test a majority of the students passed. But somehow I always came up short with what I felt the skill level of the students should be at. Yes, they had the test knowledge. When it came to giving them a recipe and having them develop a flow chart identifying the critical control points the class seemed lost. I started out in my first years of teaching using peanut butter sandwiches as my practice HACCP process. With new peanut and tree-nut allergies going around I haven't been able to use that simple food. Here is a list of foods I will try this next year with my students. I will feel comfortable with the skill level of my students if they can create a HACCP plan on brats in the end.


Practice HACCP plan things to make:

Hard boiled eggs (cheapest, the chickens in the animals lab lay eggs every day)

Brownies from the box (the chickens in the animals lab lay enough eggs for this recipie every day)

Ice cream sundae (also used as a parliamentary procedure activity, must pass motions to add ingredients) By Rick Bierbauer -




There are probably dozens of good foods to practice HACCP. Which ones have worked best for you?

Recently I posted about two summer courses I will be teaching for summer school. One based in gardening and the other is about making meat products. Each class meets for 2 hours each day for 5 days. Being it is a first round of classes the activities are packed pretty tight in the schedule. This post has the scope and sequence for each of the classes and some helpful links.


Resources for the Summer Sausage Class


Mastering the Craft of Making Sausage: Warren R. Anderson: 9781580801553: Books


Greg's Spicy Beef Sticks

Luke Skywalker was a farm boy from the planet Tatooine. He farmed moisture. It's an out of this world concept that is a creative jumping point for middle school students to start defining farming and agriculture. This got me thinking and expanding into the Star Wars universe for different agriculture themes. Modifying a few of the Project Wild Lessons I created the Star Wars Packet. This packet is a week long unit for when I go on National Convention or National Land and Range trips. Its a broad overview of some of the things I will expand on and cover in my high school agriculture classes.


The last pages of the packet help teach about horse gaits. This takes the packet from Star Wars to Monty Python as the students bang coconut halves together to replicate horse gaits.

Just like in teaching, reflection and feedback are important in student learning. John Hattie ranked 195 factors that influence learning. In this Ag Mechanics Packet I have focused on student reporting grades and goals. The 21st century skills portion of the packet was created by Troy Talford who was my cooperating teacher. Every day students must log hours for their project that they have planned. At the end of the week students answer the 21st century skills questions. Some students use their SAE to reflect upon for the questions, others use their shop project. This is a first version that just went through its first group of seniors. I plan on adding more student reflection in the packet and a page on how to pick a project.


John Hattie Mind Frames:

Hattie effect size list - 195 Influences Related To Achievement

Nathan King

Summer Agriculture Courses

Posted by Nathan King May 26, 2016

This year the Cashton Agriculture Department is offering summer school courses between the end of the school year and the State FFA Convention. The courses are open to middle and high school students. The first course is "Filling the Cupboard: A Course in Modern Gardening Practices and Community Service". The local thrift store is called the Cashton Cupboard and Closet. The students in the course will be learning plant system standards through putting in raised beds and growing community gardens. Students will also use the school's greenhouse and setup the hydroponic system for the next school year.

"Summer Sausage" is a course for 6th through 12th grade students to learn how to process meat products safely. This course serves as an introduction for those who have never used the equipment in the Cashton Agriculture Foods Lab. Students enrolled in the class that have already taken the Food Products and Processing class aid new students and take a leadership role in the lab. mer

Filling the Cupboard:  A Course in Modern Gardening Practices and Community Service (6-12):

  • Do you want to be a better gardener or improve your gardening skills to get that green thumb you always wanted?  Students taking this course will be working in the school gardens and the Cashton Agriscience Greenhouse to grow food for the community and school.  Students will have a hands on experience in planting vegetables and maintaining garden growth for the summer.


Summer Sausage (6-12):

  • Mix a myriad of meat products in this course dedicated to making your mouth water.  Students will be mastering the craft of making sausage and smoking food throughout the duration of this course.  From the refrigerator to the grill, students will be processing meat products in the Cashton Agriscience Food Processing Lab.

All agriculture students are involved in an SAE at Cashton High School. To keep my officers organized I have made a checklist that they follow additionally to logging their SAE hours.

FFA Officer AET Friday Duties

Treasurer -

  • Balance Account on AET
  • Fill out any expense forms needed
    • submitted the 10th and 25th of each month

Secretary -

  • Write meeting agenda
  • Submit meeting minutes
  • Log meeting attendance

Sentinel -

  • Create advertisements for events
  • Keep FFA cabinets and materials organized
  • Help plan meeting meal

Parliamentarian/Historian -

  • Assemble photos from previous week’s events into scrapbook folder
  • Update and maintain awards pages on website

Reporter -

  • Update website with meeting minutes
  • Send article to newspaper, update website with upcoming events
  • Update website with post about event

FFA Officer AET Friday Duties
President -

  • Communicate with others to see that the AET Friday Duties are done
  • Be proactive and not reactive
  • Help others with items on busy weeks
  • Meet with secretary to create meeting agenda

Vice President -

  • Review State FFA announcements
  • Send an email to school secretary for the next week’s announcements
  • At the beginning of the month
    • Submit the next month’s field trip forms
    • Copy permission slips
    • Post sign ups

How Student of the Month supports PLC and Danielson’s Framework for Teaching

Recognizing student achievement for more than just academics is the largest facet of the Student of the Month program. Teachers nominate students that are exemplary outside of the academic coursework. Yes, academics may play a key role in the nominations for some students. However, it is more likely that the nomination was for a positive change in attitude, effort, and achievement. Not all staff sees the wonderful things all students do. Not all students show all staff the wonderful things they do. Different staff have different relationships with students.

The professional community of learners shares all types of information in meetings; school report card, student grades, student concerns, school policy, student incidents, and so on. Look, we have an opportunity to share the good stuff. A unified place to share with one another the shining stars of our community. We can share the fantastic, wonderful, and positive things that students are doing. We can use that information to keep pulling a once struggling student to success. We can give the always achieving student the pat on the back that they need and may not often get because their success is just “normal” compared to the rest.

Danielson would probably support a Student of the Month program because it provides “feedback to students that furthers learning”.  A well written and detailed note of what a student did well is great feedback for the culture of the school. A nomination could also be proof that a teacher is “Demonstrating Knowledge of Students” (1b), “Acknowledgement of student’s backgrounds and lives outside of the classroom” (2a), and “Politeness and encouragement” (2a). The classroom environment is also improved because the teacher has “Expectation and recognition of effort and persistence on the part of students” (2b). “Reinforcement of positive behavior” (2d) would also be a fantastic reason to nominate any student that has gone above and beyond.

Nominating a student online would be an “Effective use of physical resources, including computer technology, by both teacher and students” (2e). A nomination could also be a way to record and reflect on a plethora of instructional strategies that involve students taking the lead. Since a record would be made digitally of school activity, Domain 4b, the indicator of “Processes of maintaining accurate non instructional records”, could have more evidence. To conclude, I leave you with the indicators from 4d; regular teacher participation with colleagues to share and plan for student success, regular teacher participation in school initiatives, regular teacher participation in professional courses or communities that emphasize improving practice, and regular teacher participation in and support of community initiatives.

Nathan King

FFA Week

Posted by Nathan King Feb 24, 2016

Looking for FFA Assembly Activities?


Looking for FFA Week Plans?


Want to see what Cashton does for FFA Week?


Check out

Nathan King

Soils Resources

Posted by Nathan King Jul 22, 2015

The Cashton FFA has resources about the Wisconsin Soils Contest. The contest manual was written to be used in classrooms to teach students about soils.

Chicken tic-tac-toe game - To teach animal training and behavior

Automatic chicken coop door - to teach about animal facility design

Bathroom scale chicken weight logger - to teach about production growth

Tweeting water level sensor for animal watering systems - to teach about animal facility design

Tweeting soil moisture - for teaching about automated systems

Plant environment control box - use sensors to automate light, temperature, water, and humidity

Tweeting cat door - to teach animal training and behavior


Research project topics

Drones in agriculture

RFID in agriculture

GPS in agriculture

Robotic agriculture


If you have more ideas on potential agriculture technology products reply or post.