One of my favorite movies is Kung Fu Panda, every time it pops up on TV I find myself watching it for the umpteenth time as the Poe (the panda) finds that he has a gift for martial arts. One of my favorite lines in the movie is when the Poe’s father, the noodle maker, tells Poe there is no secret ingredient in his famous noodle recipe. Poe uses this revelation to understand there is no secret ingredient in his skills to becoming a great Kung Fu fighter.
I think the same analogy can be applied in our Ag Teachers Association’s search for leadership and advocacy among its membership. There is No Secret Ingredient to being a voice in the effort to convince our state and national public officials to maintain funding for programs; with severe cuts in Perkins dollars in the FY 2011 budget and more cuts to planned in the FY 2012 budget, the push for advocacy has seldom been greater. Currently the CTE community is pushing to restore Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act funding to the 2008 level of 1.27 billion dollars. Unfortunately, our members across the United States want someone else to advocate for them. In an organization, whether it is local, state or national level, it just takes a commitment say yes and step up to the task. One can come with a hundred excuses not to take on a leadership role but I say to you….if not you then who? Our organization needs new blood at every level to get involved in getting the message to our national leaders on the importance of CTE funding. The Advocacy center located on the NAAE website (http://www.naae.org/advocacy/legactioncenter/) is an excellent way to find out how to contact your congressmen to keep them informed.
Do you know how much NAAE dues are per year? Only $60…with those 60 dollars members have several benefits including being enrolled into a $100,000 professional liability insurance policy. Students who are training for careers related to agricultural education can join for only $10 per year and are also enrolled into the $100,000 liability insurance policy. I would encourage all of our college learning centers to encourage all of their students in their ag ed programs to take advantage of this opportunity.
Communities of Practice continues to grow with over 1500 members now and growing so large that corporate sponsorship is near so as to offset the cost of operating the website. If you are not a member yet to COP, I encourage you to look into it. It is free and it is a valuable tool for young and not so young teachers with over 40 communities ranging from agriscience to marketing to agribusiness management.
Region IV Conference is this week (June 28th – 30th) in beautiful Nashville, IN. The conference rotates between the six states in region IV and is an excellent opportunity to meet other teachers from the surrounding states of Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. It is a laid back conference where Tuesday and Thursday contain business sessions to consider business on the national level, judge NAAE award applications and conduct committee business. Wednesday is a tour day for teacher to visit several of the interesting agribusiness in the area of the conference.
In conclusion, it is time for all members to get their hands on the rope and pull for our organization and the entire CTE family. If we do not, we have no one to blame but ourselves for not keeping our political leaders informed of the benefits of CTE funding. With all of the resources at our fingertips, you will find there is no secret ingredient to becoming an advocate for Ag Ed and CTE
I leave you with a quote:
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
- Dr. Seuss