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NAAE News & Notables

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Article and photograph from the Rockingham Now.591b6c9641246.image.jpg

WENTWORTH Most visitors to Lynn Knight’s classroom at Rockingham County High are surprised to see a rock pool with large koi swimming in it.

It’s just part of the learning experience Knight’s students encounter in her classes.

Digging in dirt also is part of the curriculum. Other teaching tools in Knight’s classroom include hoes, rakes, a variety of other gardening tools, bags of fertilizer, and pots and pots of flowers and vegetables.

These are all part of the agriculture programs offered at Rockingham County and McMichael high schools.

Click here for the full article.


Article and photograph from the Illinois News Network.

A state agriculture education group is recruiting a new generation of Illinois agriculture teachers to fill a growing number of open positions.

According to Jennifer Waters, program adviser for Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE), there are 325 agriculture programs in schools across the state. So far, 32 of 53 available agriculture education openings have been filled.

“We’re happy to say we’ve filled most of the positions, and we’ve got some great candidates coming in,” Waters said. “We’re excited for where we’re going.”

Click here for the full article.


Article and photograph from the Oneida Daily Dispatch.

MORRISVILLE, N.Y. >> Future agricultural leaders honed their skills on the Morrisville State College campus during this year’s New York State FFA Convention May 11-13.

More than 1,000 of the best and brightest high school students from across New York flocked to campus to gain hands-on experience in their future agricultural career fields during the event, which showcased some of the best MSC has to offer.

Hailey Mason, in her fifth year with FFA, credits the organization with inspiring her to pursue a career as an agriculture teacher. After visiting campus, she now hopes to fulfill that career path at Morrisville someday.

Click here for the full article.

14597_6642_1_thumb.jpegMACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University School of Agriculture Director Andy Baker has been named the recipient of the 2017 Illinois Teacher Mentor award.


Baker was named director of WIU's School of Agriculture in June 2014. He joined WIU's faculty in August 1999 and served as the school's interim director twice.


Baker will be presented with the award at the Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers (IAVAT) conference June 20 in Bloomington, IL.


"I have been very blessed to work in a state that still believes that mentoring new professionals is a high priority," Baker said of his award. "I have mentored teachers on a variety of levels, from working with veteran teachers on their research projects to offering internship opportunities to high school students who are interested in pursuing teaching as a career."


Click here for the full article.

AR-170429886.jpgArticle and photograph from the Daily Inter Lake.

Agriculture teacher Brian Bay received the Montana Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher Award from the Montana Association of Agricultural Education.

Brian Bay approaches teaching with laughter, joy and grace.

These are the principles he uses as a foundation to build relationships with students at the H.E. Vocational Agricultural Center in Kalispell Public Schools, where he’s taught for the past 15 years.

“Those three things, I think people don’t have enough of in the world,” Bay said.

When laughter, joy and grace are present in learning, Bay said that students — whether they are at the top of the class or at risk academically — are able to see that “we’re in this together and we’re all learning something new.”

Click here for the full article.



Kids don't learn unless they get a little dirty. That's the philosophy of the man who runs the career and technical education program at Monument Valley High School in Kayenta, Arizona, where students from the Navajo Nation get hands-on instruction in caring for animals.


Click here to read more and watch the video.


From PBS NewsHour.

PITTSYLVANIA CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Jessica Jones didn’t always think she would be a teacher.


"I had told my middle school ag teacher I was going to go to UVA to be a doctor. And he told me, no you're going to be an ag teacher. And I looked at him and I said, 'No I'm not.' He said, 'Yeah, you will. I see something in me that I see in you and I know that's going to happen,'" explained Jones.

That teacher was on to something. Jones went into Virginia Tech undecided, but eventually declared to be an agriculture education major.

Although Jones has the degrees and education to back up her knowledge in agriculture, not everyone who meets her, would peg her as an ag teacher.

Click here to read the full article.


Step into one of Blake Berry’s agricultural education courses at Pendleton High School and you might think you’ve walked into the wrong classroom.

Instead of learning how to shoe a horse or fix a diesel engine, you’ll likely find students practicing speeches, working out mathematical equations or researching alternative energy sources. It’s all part of South Carolina’s agricultural education curriculum.

“These days, a job in agriculture can mean anything from production farming, which is rare, to extension work, landscape design, veterinary science and development of GPS models that reduce use of water and fertilizer,” explains Berry, who has been teaching ag ed at Pendleton High School since 2009. “They require specialized skills that come from hands-on work with plants and animals paired with classwork in geometry, chemistry and other hard-core sciences.”

It wasn’t all that long ago that high school students who chose to take Agricultural Education classes spent their class time learning skills that would help them run a farm. But as the number of farms began to decrease and farmers were asked again and again to produce more food on fewer acres of land, agriculture education began to expand beyond instruction in production-based agriculture to include agribusiness, horticulture and science-based classes.

Click here to read more about Berry and his program.

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“Mr. Ball stands out among his peers for a variety of reasons,” says Shelly Hendricks, Principal at Nelson County High School (NCHS) in Bardstown, Kentucky. During his three years as an agriculture teacher at NCHS, Jacob Ball has made numerous investments in professional development, technology, and equipment to improve learning opportunities for his students. At a time when proving the value of CTE programs is crucial, Ball has become dual certified in Agriculture and Biology to offer students the option to take an agribiology course that allows students to receive biology credit within the agriculture program. Ball has also become certified to teach Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE), which is rooted in inquiry-based and science curriculum and has greatly increased the science rigor in his courses. He has applied for and received over $10,000 in various grants to purchase Google Chromebooks for the Agriculture Program, making his classroom the only full “one to one” technology classroom in the school. Ball puts in extra time serving as an advisor for the Nelson County FFA, leading the chapter to receive a Gold Rating every year at the state level and a National Three Star Chapter Rating in 2014. 

Outside of the classroom, Ball is committed to improving NCHS as a whole. He takes an active role in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to help improve educational practices and is a leader on the Program Review Committee at NCHS. Ball has streamlined the intensive, year-long process of gathering evidence across the school for program review by developing a school-wide sharing system through google docs, saving time and simplifying the process for fellow educators. Ball is active in Kentucky Association of Agricultural Educators, Kentucky ACTE and Kentucky Farm Bureau.

Click here for more information on all of the 2017 ACTE Award Winners and to watch a video about Ball and his accomplishments.



Watch this news story about Christine Jumbeck, agriscience teacher at Cochrane-Fountain City High School, in Fountain City, Wis., who was recently named the March Top Notch Teacher by her local news station. Hear from her students why she is their favorite teacher and how she takes student learning beyond the classroom.


Click here to watch the video.


Source: IANR News

Lincoln, Neb. — In the next 50 years, the world needs to double the amount of food it produces in order to feed a growing population. That responsibility doesn't lie only with farmers and scientists, but with everyone, according to Mark Poeschl, chief executive officer of the National FFA Organization and the National FFA Foundation.

"If there's a blemish on an apple, accept it," Poeschl said. "The amount of food that is wasted on a daily basis because it isn't perfect is staggering."

Society demanding "perfect food" was just one of the topics discussed when Poeschl presented his thoughts on sustainably feeding the world during a Heuermann Lecture Jan. 10 at Nebraska Innovation Campus. He also talked about challenges with water conservation, land availability, infrastructure and deploying innovation.

According to Poeschl, the amount of food wasted in the world today is enough to feed 3.2 billion people.

"There's 1 billion people in the world that are malnourished today …," he said. "Maybe one solution is to get on the bandwagon and figure out how to address food waste."

Click here to read more.


Source: WDBJ7 News


DRY FORK, Va. (WDBJ7) An ag teacher in Pittsylvania County is showing her students what it means to put your knowledge to work. Dr. Jessica Jones’ skills took her all the way to Phoenix, Arizona, where she’s getting national recognition for her ability to not only discuss, but come up with solutions to issues that face the agriculture industry.

Students at Tunstall High School are learning about Discussion Meet.

“Discussion meet is an event that's specific to the young farmers and ranchers section of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation as well as the American Farm Bureau Federation. In order to participate you have to be between the ages of 18 and 35. And in this particular contest you are given five questions, or issues, or trending topics in the agricultural industry,” Jones said.

Click here to read more.

For Immediate Release:  February 6, 2017



February Marks 100th Anniversary of National Agricultural Education System

State Agriculture Commissioner Participates in Anniversary Celebration with New York Future Farmers of America

Governor Cuomo Proposes Record Funding for Agriculture Education in 2017-18 Executive Budget


Smith-Hughes_Act_100th_Anniversary_2017_NY.jpgState Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball commemorates 100 years of formal agricultural education in New York State in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act of 1917.  As a result of this landmark federal legislation, a cohesive national system of career and technical education was developed and continues today.


Commissioner Ball will join the New York Future Farmers of America (NY FFA) for an anniversary celebration tonight in Albany that will promote the value of agricultural education programs to both students and the industry and spotlight New York’s leadership in agricultural education.  On behalf of Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Ball will present a citation during the celebration to commemorate the anniversary. 


For years, agricultural education programs have encouraged millions of young people to pursue higher education and become strong leaders in their chosen fields. The Smith-Hughes Act was a major part of strengthening that effort across the country and I am thrilled to be part of the celebration of this historic milestone,” Commissioner Ball said. “Here in New York, we are proud be a national leader when it comes to agriculture education and I am grateful to be part of an administration that recognizes the importance of carrying that legacy forward.”


The Smith-Hughes Act was named for Senator Hoke Smith and Representative Dudley Hughes, both of Georgia, who introduced the legislation in Congress.  It was passed on February 17, 1917 and signed by President Woodrow Wilson on February 23.  In celebration of this historic anniversary, the NY FFA is holding career development workshops this month to help more than 100 students better understand public policy and State government. 


The Smith-Hughes Act paved the way for youth leadership development organizations, such as FFA, whose members gain valuable workforce training and professional management skills that often lead to meaningful careers in agriculture and related fields. New York State has a rich history with the National FFA Organization being one of the oldest chapters in the country.  Currently, Ashley Willits from Copenhagen, NY, is serving as the Eastern Region Vice President for the National FFA.  She is the first female national officer from New York.


Terry Hughes, Career Development Event Coordinator for NY FFA said, “As a product of Agricultural education myself, it is exciting to see that even after 100 years this dynamic school based program continues to prepare young people to fill the growing demand in the ever changing Agriculture, Food, Fiber, and Natural Resources Industry.  Agricultural education is positioned well to continue to make a positive difference in the lives of students by recognizing the critical importance of developing premier leadership through the FFA as an integral part of career success and civic engagement.”


Ashley Willits, National FFA Eastern Region Vice President, said, “New York FFA Association, along with FFA associations across the country and in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, give students opportunities to apply the knowledge they learn in the classroom to relevant, real world experiences.  With more than 235 careers in agriculture, FFA and agricultural education play an integral part in preparing students to be competitive in a global workforce.”


Record Funding For New York Agricultural Education

Agricultural education has long been a priority in New York with programs that pre-date the Smith-Hughes Act and the oldest urban agriculture program in the U.S.  The State was also one of the first in the country to allow girls to pursue these curriculums and continues to set an example for the rest of the nation with cutting-edge programs that influence more than 10,000 students annually. 


To continue New York’s progressive leadership in this area, Governor Cuomo has proposed a record $1.3 million in his 2017-18 Executive Budget to support 100 new FFA chapters through start-up grants, expand the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program, which is administered by Cornell University, and to double the number of certified agricultural educators from 240 to 480.  The Governor’s plan will enhance opportunities for students and educators and help meet the growing demand for agricultural programs across the State.


The Governor has also proposed a state-of-the-art test kitchen and food science lab at the New York FFA Oswegatchie Educational Center in the North Country.  This test kitchen will offer instruction in food safety, basic food preparation, and food processing to more than 6,000 annual visitors, including both students and veterans from nearby Fort Drum. 


Kathryn J. Boor, Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said, “I appreciate this important partnership commemoration as it recognizes the full spectrum of Cornell’s agricultural education, which begins in the primary schools with the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program, to the Cornell FFA program’s emphasis on developing high school students, and ends with our excellent undergraduate and graduate programs in agricultural and life sciences. The importance of agricultural education in today’s economy has never been greater, as we see ongoing needs to cultivate the next generation of New York’s farm families, food and business entrepreneurs, and plant and animal scientists to keep feeding a globally increasing population efficiently and sustainably in a changing climate.  I am thrilled that the Governor recognizes the importance of building a reliable pipeline to Taste NY and New York Grown and Certified programs through supporting the future farm and food entrepreneurs in New York State.”


Tina Miner, President of NY Association of Agricultural Educators, said “This is an exciting time for agricultural education in New York State.  So many school districts are seeking to start agricultural education programs and our State leaders have demonstrated that they recognize the power of these programs to develop a strong workforce.  We are thrilled to have this level of support and we look forward to our role in supporting one of New York’s most important industries.”



group.jpgVeteran teachers love to share, and at last weekend’s boot camp for a group of National Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors, favorite lessons and war stories bounced around the room as participants settled in.


What brought these teachers together though, wasn’t the WHAT that dominated those first-hour conversations. This group of agriscience educators came to Orlando to learn more about the HOW of teaching. That may seem a little odd considering these folks from 10 different states represented decades of combined classroom experience.


These select National Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors were training to become facilitators. Their goal was to learn more about the mechanics behind teaching other teachers. Their topic? How inquiry-based learning and increased science rigor can increase student achievement.


During the two-day bootcamp, participants were drilled on a variety of facilitation techniques, like using inclusive language, movement as a way to signal what your learner can expect next, and giving directions that produce the desired outcomes (it’s harder than you’d think). True to the hands-on philosophy of agriscience education, participants practiced these over and over, often being stopped mid-lesson by mentor facilitators and gently guided back on the right path.


“As we’re sending these facilitators out to be teachers of teachers, that’s a departure from their normal every day in the classroom.” Said Wes Crawford, an agriscience teacher from Oregon who is also a National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Mentor Facilitator who co-lead the training.


“While they bring a wealth of knowledge, we need to help them be even more impactful, so when they’re done with other teachers from across the United States, those teachers can go back and be purposeful in implementing agriscience and inquiry in their own classrooms.”


From Teacher to Ambassador to Facilitator


jessica.jpgBefore an agriscience teacher can train to be a National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Facilitator, he or she has to become a National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador.


The National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy selects agriscience teachers via a rigorous application system, and through a week-long program, gives them the tools to increase the science rigor and inquiry teaching in their classrooms. Teachers who complete training to become National Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors also commit to spreading those concepts to other teachers.


Over its 15-year life, the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador program has trained 345 teacher ambassadors who have delivered thousands of hours of professional development to teachers related to science rigor and inquiry teaching techniques.


An even more select group of National Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors are selected for training as facilitators. Their role will be to oversee the interactive sessions given by ambassadors, and make sure the core messages of the program are delivered.


Just because teachers weren’t focusing on their regular students this weekend doesn’t mean they weren’t learning something they can take back to their classrooms.


“As professionals, it’s all about getting better. If we can introduce new techniques and theories that are going to make us better educators, it’s going to improve what we do with our students and help move our students brains further along the line of learning,” said Rick Henningfeld, another of the bootcamp’s leaders and a National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Mentor Facilitator.


The National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador program is a program of the National Association of Agricultural Educators, and is sponsored by DuPont as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. For more information about the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador program, visit



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Bootcamp Attendees


jamonica.jpgMentor Facilitators
David Black, Murray State University, Murray, Ky.
Wes Crawford, Sutherlin High School, Sutherlin, Ore.
Laura Hasselquist, University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.
Rick Henningfeld,  Vivayic, Walworth, Wis.
Kim O’Byrne, Mayfield High School, Las Cruces, N.M.
JoAnn Pfeiffer, Federal Hocking High School, Stewart, Ohio


Mark Anderson, Elizabethtown Area High School, Elizabethtown, Pa.
Kelly Becnel, Walker High School, Walker, La.
Jessica Grundy, Wayne High School, Bicknell, Utah
Rachel Knight, Centennial High School, Las Cruces, N.M.
Jamonica Marion, Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Chicago, Ill.
Krista Pontius, Greenwood High School, Millerstown, Pa.
Rachel Sauvola, New Richmond High School, New Richmond, Wis.
Kurt Vandewalle, Fillmore Central High School, Geneva, Neb.

Source: NPRtinyhouses.jpg

Stand in the center of this house and you'll find yourself in the living room and the dining room.

And the bedroom. Oh, and also the kitchen.

At 500 square feet and designed to hold as many as six people, the house makes for quite a tiny home. But for many, it's just enough for now.

Since flooding in West Virginia last June killed at least 23 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes, residents have been struggling to find adequate housing.

These small homes, built by high school students in nearby vocational schools, may be the solution.

Click here to read more.