It is bittersweet that we just completed the Region V Summer Conference in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. It was a wonderful conference, but my last as the Regional Vice President. I have worked with great and caring people over the last several years and know we will continue to accomplish great things for our members. Thank you to the North Carolina delegation and especially Roger Teeple for their dedication to making our conference a success.
Just as it will soon be time for others to take the lead in Region V, during the summer most state associations elect new officers to lead their organizations as well. It is always exciting to me to see educators taking the lead in their professional organizations. I know often it is a struggle to have enough individuals step up for leadership roles Is this a problem for your state? Perhaps a leadership training or workshop might help encourage people that they have what it takes to step up. Maybe a nomination effort might work or even putting together a nominating committee. Not having issues with state leadership? Tell us how and what is working in your state on COP. Share with others what is working for you. I believe this is one of the qualities that strengthens agricultural education, we are a family. If someone needs help, we try and find a way to help them, if someone has a need, we work together to provide. This camaraderie is part of the drive we feel to strengthen our organization and what we provide for our students.
It seems like we are being asked to wear many hats today in Agricultural Education, Not only are we teachers and mentors, we are data collectors, guidance and grief counselors, fundraisers, taxi drivers and so much more. One important hat that is often neglected is that of an advocate. There are many ways to advocate for our programs. Working with local, state and national officials is one way to promote agricultural education. It often sounds intimidating to contact legislators or city council members, or we seem to think, someone else will do that. Sadly, others in education feel that way as well and we end up taking a reactive approach to budget cuts rather than a proactive approach and keeping good programs intact. Don’t rely on others to step up and share the good things you are accomplishing. Rather, invite community leaders to a community service project your chapter is doing. Invite your legislators to your FFA banquet. Recognize those who support CTE and agricultural education. Encourage your FFA members to join you in telling their story. However, we must rely a message beyond great speaking kids in blue jackets. WE must make the connection that FFA members begin their experiences in the agricultural classroom, discuss the three circle model and how FFA is the tool to practice the real world situations learned in the classroom. This connection must be made to continue the growth of agricultural education. To take it a step further, relate ag ed as a branch of CTE and that funding is supported through CTE.
There are many opportunities out there to continue spreading the good news of what we do on a daily basis. The question is, are you willing to take the next step?