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NAAE Region VI Updates

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As the school year speeds to an end, I know you are looking forward to a restful and rejuvenating summer break. Of course, the summers are not all R&R for agriculture teachers, but it does provide a perfect opportunity for quality professional development and fellowship with colleagues.  As you are making your plans for summer travels, consider the NEAT and Region VI Conference in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for your destination June 25-28, 2017.


The New England agriculture teachers, headed by the committee from New Hampshire, has a fabulous agenda planned for the week. In addition to relevant and exciting workshops, they are featuring two different keynote speakers, engaging tours of the University of New Hampshire and New Hampshire Industry and Tourism, and NAAE business sessions, featuring committee work and evaluation of award applications.


Visit the conference website: Summer Conference - New England Agriculture Teachers

The tentative agenda is below, and it is also available on the website, along with hotel and registration information.


I cannot wait to see you in New Hampshire this summer and to share in a "Live Free or Die" adventure of New England agriculture and agricultural education.


Final reminders about awards:

~ Don't forget to bring your applications for Outstanding Service, Outstanding Cooperation and Lifetime Achievement, or mail them to me at the address listed on the Region VI CoP Page.

~ Send me the name and description of your state's Ideas Unlimited contestant or their designee for presenting at the conference, so we can schedule those sessions for selection of our Region VI winner.

~ State leaders can complete the Professional State Association Award Application and turn it in at the summer conference. Those applications, once available, can be found at the following link:


See you in Portsmouth!!

Sherisa Nailor

Region VI Vice President

Krista Pontius


Posted by Krista Pontius Oct 13, 2016

Image result for ffa transform


“TRANSFORM.” According to Merriam Webster, to transform is “to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance or character of.”  Now that the CDE practices are coming to an end, the permission slips are handed in and it's time to start packing our bags, I begin to reflect on the past -- realizing that this will be the twentieth time that I have taken students to the National FFA Convention -- I think that "Transform" is a perfect theme for this year’s convention! I think of the transformation that has occurred to each of my students over the past 20 years as they have traveled to National FFA Convention, met lifelong friends, discovered their future careers, selected their future colleges, honed soft skills in National CDE competitions, were inspired to action by dynamic keynote speakers, AND SO MUCH MORE! 


As advisor’s, the National FFA Convention is an opportunity for us to get to know our students in a different light. Although it is difficult, I always try to spend a little time with each student, each day while on the trip. Even if it’s simply a three-minute conversation, those conversations will pay dividends in the future (for you and them)! I also try to remember the students' emotions, as it is sometimes their first time away from their parents for an extended time, first time out of state, or the first time in a city. I always try to plan a meaningful journey because our students deserve an incredible experience!


If you have a chance, please stop by the NAAE booth to say hello! As you are beginning to pack your bags this weekend, remember to include lots of Band-Aids and Advil, and be prepared for a journey that will TRANSFORM your students' lives!  See you in Indy!!!



In today's current climate, it's easy to get wrapped up in so many things and take our eyes off of the prize.  It is so easy to turn on the news and quickly feel deflated, losing hope that is possible to make a difference in this world. This is why I am so grateful to have spent the day doing SAE visits with my teaching partner, Mr. Clark. Despite the scorching temperatures, it was wonderful to visit with students and their families, and monitor the progress of their SAE projects. As agricultural educators, we DO make a difference in the lives of our students. Today we saw Brooke, who is raising her first market steer this year, parade her perfectly finished animal in preparation for the county fair, witnessed the Bratton Family show off their new family farm hats while drinking peach tea on their porch, and had a long discussion with Kierra who is quickly learning the "joys and discomforts" as she is experiencing the challenges of getting animals to gain weight in overwhelming heat. These experiences pay dividends to our students, in the classroom and to our community. Although we may not think we are "serving" our students, the potential impact of work-based learning will prove invaluable to the student's future.


Speaking of service, each one of us have the opportunity to serve our organization in the near future. Both the vice president and secretary positions for Region VI will be open in December. If you are interested in serving NAAE in a leadership role, please complete your MOU and sent it to the office prior to September 15.  The MOU can be found at  Please let me know if you have any questions about the leadership positions.  Thank you for considering this opportunity to serve Region VI. It has been a tremendous professional experience that I will always remember.


Other reminders....

1.  I'm hoping to see you all in Vegas. Be sure to make your hotel reservations prior to September 1st, to avoid the resort fee.

2.  Region VI is looking for committee members. Please let me know if you are interested in serving our organization.

3.  Professional State Award Applications are due September 1st.


Thanks so much for all that you do for our profession! Try to take a few minutes during the last days of summer for yourself and best of luck during upcoming school year!!


Let me know if there is anything that NAAE can do for you!



After the final bell rings and the students walk across the stage in their caps and gowns, we finally have a chance to reflect. We are reflecting on the year as a whole, the individual students that we worked with and what changes we hope to make for the upcoming school year. Reflection is important in education. In our "Friday Wrap" that our principals sends us at the end of each week, she encouraged us to take a moment to look around our classrooms and see if our room reflects our educational style. John Dewey said, "We don't learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience." Hopefully over the summer, we will all have a chance to sit back in our classrooms and reflect in order to make next year more successful. The thing that I like to reflect the most on is how I touch students' lives. If you haven't seen it, please take a moment to watch this TED Talk  Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion - YouTube. Rita Pierson says that students come to school for connections and relationships. She says we need to understand the value and importance of relationships! Each day, we have the opportunity to be a champion for our students...which is why this is the BEST.JOB.EVER!!!!


I wanted to take a chance to thank the crew from New Jersey for a great Region VI Conference! We had exceptional workshops, thoughtful meetings, excellent tours, and tremendous social time! Thanks for all of your efforts to make our meeting great!


A few reminders...

*Early Bird Registration is open for the NAAE Convention.  (Make your hotel reservations prior to September 1st to get the resort fee waived). 2016 NAAE Convention: Welcome

*Teachers in years 7-15, consider applying for XLR8-due July 15th Professional Development - XLR8 - eXellence in Leadership for Retention | National Association of Agricultural Educators


Have an enjoyable summer!  Please let me know if there is anything that NAAE can do for you!



I think that this quote is so fitting for the craziness that exists in every ag department during the spring. As we are faced with the challenges of the end of the school year (constantly growing stacks of ungraded papers, proficiency awards, national chapter awards, chapter banquets, CDE's, livestock judging practices...shall I continue?), it is easy to forget the beauty that we can find every day in our departments.The beauty comes when watching students filled with nerves compete in their first CDE, experiencing the light bulb moments with students in the classroom, and visiting with a student's family while on a SAE visit. If we never had to endure the "WINTER," or adversity that is Zack who thinks his phone is an attached body part, or Ben who has a permanent ailment of verbal diarrhea, or (Insert your own discipline issue here), we may easily overlook the "SPRING," or the moments that remind us every day why we have the BEST JOB EVER! Perhaps instead of only filling our "To Do" list columns, we should make extra effort to include "Good things that happened this week," as a reminder of why we are agriculture teachers by choice, not by chance. By the way, if you are looking for a great time management system, NAAE has an excellent resource for you!


I hope to see a great crowd at the Region VI meeting, on April 29-30 in Trenton, NJ. There is still time to register if you haven't had a chance. New Jersey has a great meeting planned for us and I'm excited to see everyone. Information can be found on the Region VI Page .

Other items of interest...

The 2016 online submission form is now available, along with the application instructions and supporting information for all NAAE awards. Regional award winners will be honored at the 2016 NAAE Convention in Las Vegas, November 29 - December 3. As a friendly reminder, the following applications will be judged in New Jersey next month Lifetime Achievement, Outstanding Cooperation, Outstanding Service, and Ideas Unlimited. Need help filling out the online application? Click here for detailed instructions. Go to the 2016 NAAE Award Applications

Best of luck navigating through the spring madness and please let me know if there is anything that NAAE can do for you!


Krista Pontius

Telling Our Story

Posted by Krista Pontius Jan 28, 2016

As the snow begins to melt and we are getting things cleaned up after Blizzard Jonas (when did winter storms start getting names?), it's time for us to focus and celebrate Career and Technical Education Month because February is right around the corner. Last weekend didn't only bring a blizzard of winter weather, but a blizzard of negative media in the wake of a blog post. As educators, this has provided many teachable moments in the classroom and beyond. We have the opportunity to bring awareness of alternative viewpoints to our students, discuss proper ways to handle such attacks and, most importantly, provide an incentive to TELL OUR STORY.We all know that we are doing great things in the classroom, but how often do we take the time to share the positive message of agricultural education?? is my challenge to you...over the next month, take time to tell your story. Tell your story however you see fit (local newspaper, social media, radio, letter to school board members, etc). I have decided to share on social media using the following schedule and hopefully those of you who enjoy social media will join me.


  • Week of February 1-Learning to do (classroom experiences)
  • Week of February 8-Doing to Learn (FFA Experiences)
  • Week of February 15-Earning to live (SAE)
  • Week of February 22-Living to serve (community service)


It would be awesome if we could blow up all social media venues with our positive stories of agricultural education.


I want to thank everyone who stepped up to fill a committee role, our grassroots organization depends on the voice of its members.


Please mark your calendars for our upcoming Region VI meeting in Trenton, NJ on April 29-30. Registration information will be available soon. State leaders, please note that the following awards will be judged at the April meeting: Ideas Unlimited, Outstanding Service, Outstanding Cooperation, Lifetime Achievement. You will need to bring the completed award applications to the meeting.


Thanks for all you do and let's enjoy celebrating Career and Technical Education during February.

As the hustle and bustle of the holidays are upon us, unfortunately, as ag teachers, our to do lists do not get shorter just because it is Christmas break!  As I was thinking about this month's blog, I remembered a workshop that at the Region VI Conference in Rehoboth Beach, DE by Dr. Gary Moore.  Dr. Moore is an inspiration to many and he took some time to share his 10 priorities with the audience.  With Dr. Moore's permission, I'm going to share them with you.

  1. Make written goals based on governing values
  2. Use a time management system
  3. Schedule time for yourself and your family!
  4. Establish family traditions
  5. Organize your work and home space
  6. Fight perfection
  7. Exercise
  8. Delegate
  9. Learn to say NO
  10. Live like you were dying


As we all know, Dr. Moore is a legend in Agricultural Education and beyond.  His name is synonymous with success and accomplishment in our profession.  But, please note, as you look at his priority list, he clearly understands the value of taking time to recharge your batteries and making your family and friends a priority! There are numerous research studies that show that successful (and happy) individuals take time for themselves and make family a priority!


As we look into the New Year, I have a few reminders/opportunities for members through NAAE.

  1. We are looking for individuals to volunteer for committees.  (To date, I only have an application for the Marketing Committee). If you are interested, please see the Committee Page on CoP for information.  You can send your MOU and resume to me and I'll take care of it for you!
  2. The National Policy Seminar is right around the corner (February 29-March 2).  NAAE will pay for the registration for one individual from each state to attend.
  3. Visit this site for information about the Greenhouse Construction/Enhancement Grant.
  4. Mark your calendars now for NAAE Region VI Conference on April 29-30, 2016 at the NJ Department of Education in Trenton, New Jersey.  Please note that CITATION AWARDS and IDEAS UNLIMITED will be determined at this meeting.


Merry Christmas and please let me know if there is anything that NAAE can do for you!


As the leaves begin to change and the first sign of crisp, fall air is upon us, that can only mean one thing in the world of agricultural education -- it's time for the National FFA Convention! 

Twenty five years ago, I made my first journey to the National FFA Convention in Kansas City, MO, as a sophomore in high school. I remember eating a steak at the Hereford House, going to a concert at the American Royal (I also remember a choice between Garth Brooks and Emmylou Harris...we picked Emmylou because we never heard of Garth), visiting the Hotel Baltimore to see where it all began, and, most importantly, feeling the energy and excitement of thousands of FFA members from across the country.

As a teacher, I always try to remember those emotions as I plan for the convention trip. Oftentimes, this is our student's first trip out of state, first time away from their parents, and the first time experiencing a city.  It is important to take time to plan a meaningful journey, to give them the experience they deserve. This year, we are excited to visit the Kentucky Speedway, Kentucky Horsepark, Fort Knox, and the Belle of Louisville. We are also anticipating the delicious fried chicken at Claudia Sanders Dinner House. A few years ago, as one of my students was getting off the bus after the long ride home, he said, "Thanks for taking me along. I never thought about the big world that's out there before!"

As we load the buses (or other modes of transportation) in a few weeks, we need to remember that we have been granted a colossal responsibility. Not only are the parents entrusting us with their children's safety, they also are depending on us to provide opportunities for growth and development. In some cases, those opportunities may be once in a lifetime! If you need any assistance on making a memorable experience, please let me know...I love event planning. Hopefully you will find time to visit the NAAE booth while exploring the Career Fair and Expo at the National FFA Convention.  Safe travels to Louisville and please let me know if there is anything that NAAE can do for you!

Krista Pontius

Bringing in the Harvest

Posted by Krista Pontius Jul 30, 2015

Since all of my summer traveling has ended, I finally had time last week to spend in the garden. As I was harvesting the cabbage, green beans, and peppers, I started to think about how gardens are so much like our classrooms and the plants are like our students. As gardeners (and teachers), we realize that when a seedling fails to grow, you try again! Perhaps the plant would prefer a different location in the garden, needs more water, or additional sunlight. We work to ensure the success of our plants and help them find their niche in the garden. Gardeners also have an understanding that even a stunted plant can give fruit, and that plants are resilient and will find a way to climb, while keeping their roots on the ground. Most importantly, gardeners know that things don't have to be perfect, and no two gardens are alike. Plants in a garden try to find ways to survive and thrive. As we are gearing up for the 2015-16 school year, we have the opportunity to plant our new garden and experience the joy of watching our crops grow throughout the year and bringing in the harvest of watching the light bulb moments when our students put theory into practice!


It was great to see everyone in June at the Region VI Conference! Thanks to Delaware for hosting a fabulous conference full of professional development, amazing tours, and terrific networking opportunities! Please mark your calendars now for our next Region VI meeting, which will be held on April 22-23, 2016 in New Jersey -- stay tuned for details! 


Best of luck as you return to your classrooms during the upcoming weeks! Like the plants in the garden, we have the opportunity to personify the last sentence of the Ag Teacher's Creed each and every day in our classrooms, "My love for youth will spur me on to impart something from my life that will help make for each of my students a full and happy future!"


Have a great year and please don't hesitate to ask if there is anything that NAAE can do for you!


Throughout graduation ceremonies, one of the most highly anticipated portions is the turning of the tassels. The turning of the tassel from the right side to the left symbolizes the passage of individuals from student to graduate.  It is a way that students declare victory over their hard work and persistence during their academic career.  The students are officially closing the chapter of one phase of their education and moving on to another.  As our students are turning their tassels this spring, it is also our opportunity to close the chapter of this school year and begin making plans for the future.  NAAE has some great opportunities on tap this summer!

  • We are excited to spend some time with our toes in the sand this summer in Delaware at the Region VI Conference.  The conference is on June 23-25, 2015. 
  • If you are interested in some summer professional reading, the NAAE Virtual Book Club is a great opportunity to learn and share.  Visit for additional details.
  • Also, the deadline for workshop presentations in New Orleans is just around the corner (June 5). Maybe you should consider sharing some of your expertise with your colleagues!

Just as tassels are made of many strings, we, as educators, can use strings of wisdom from many individuals to make our tassel strong.  Below are some strings of wisdom that I've collected from colleagues in our ag ed Family that will help graduates who are ready to embark on the adventure of agricultural education!

"Once you have met and interacted with your administration, get to know your custodial staff, as they will be instrumental in assisting you with the physical make-up of your teaching area.  Get to know the other agriculture teachers in your area.  Find out and meet your state association officers and ask questions.  Asked questions can be answered. Don't be afraid to ask and don't think you know everything.  Develop a dialogue with an experienced teacher who is willing to help you along the way.  If you need help to do this; email me: jalinth@carrollk12, I will assist you."-- Joe Linthicum, Maryland

"Do as many freshman SAE visits as you can, start to build relationships with your students before school even starts.  Prepare your units during the summer, remember to prepare to be flexible."-- Archie Sauerheber, Indiana

"Don't try to do it all your first few years. Focus on three or four things you feel are important and needed in your program and do them well. Over the summer, meet with your FFA officers and get them on-board with your plan for the chapter. Delegate duties and responsibilities to your officers...they will appreciate the responsibility and your trust in them and they will take some of the pressure to get things done off of you!" -- Mark Anderson, Pennsylvania

"I would encourage the teacher to make sure the state staff person has added them on as an instructor and they take the time to see what resources are available to them and to look at the pdf documents in the toolbox to see where they can go for information on some processes." -- Karen Hutchinson, LPS Specialist

"Gather curriculum resources for the classes you will be required to teach, once you get started into the school year time will be hard to find, so have resources on hand to assist you in teaching your classes. Familiarize yourself with where supplies are located in your school and program so you do not waste time during the school year locating things. Finally, study your school policies on field trips, after school activities, and traveling with students so you are prepared to advise the FFA and run less risk of compromising your job by not following protocol." -- Bart Gill, Delaware Department of Education

Best of luck to everyone as the school year comes to a close and new beginnings are blooming.  Please don't hesitate to contact me if there is anything that NAAE can do for you!


Krista Pontius

The circus is coming...

Posted by Krista Pontius Mar 25, 2015


The springtime always brings a flurry of activity in ag departments across the country. As I was sitting on a fireside chat with Penn State Student Teachers, one of the presenters said that successful educators tend to be individuals who "thrive in chaos"...what a true statement!  At times, I'm sure that we all feel as if the circus is coming and we are getting ready to sign up for the juggling act! Between greenhouse crops, award applications, planning for the FFA banquet, preparing for State FFA Convention, and maintaining quality education in the classroom, it is easy to feel as if you belong in a circus.  This ability to juggle is what makes individuals in our profession unique.  I'm sure that most of us would love to know what it feels like to get bored this time of year.  The important thing to remember, is to stay focused and keep our eyes on the prize!  No, despite what you may read in the media, our prize is NOT summer vacation (what's that??), it is STUDENT SUCCESS!  Whether we are in our first year of teaching or a seasoned veteran, we all can use some gems of wisdom from time to time.  Here are some gems that I've collected from around Region VI...

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step...Take everything one step at a time and don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed!"  -Aaron Geiman, MD

"As ag teachers, we must remember that the life lessons we teach our FFA members are more important than the awards and recognition we can help them earn, as this is often lost with our natural competitive nature"-Karen Breeding, DE

"Reserve 1-2 days a week for "you time".  Use this time to relax, read a book, exercise, or spend time with family".-Sherisa Nailor, PA

"Take 5 minutes a day during school to do something for yourself ... A breather without students.  Take the opportunity to take students outside for class -- the rejuvenating weather is great for teachers and students." -Annie Hall, WV


Springtime also means NAAE Award time -- Apply by May 15th!

Applications for the 2015 NAAE Awards are now available online. To apply for an award, you will need to log in to the NAAE website. You must be a current, dues-paying NAAE member to apply. Click here for more information and to begin your application TODAY! Applications are due by May 15, 2015 at 11:59pm EDT.


Please make plans to join us on the beach this summer.  Delaware has an awesome conference planned and are anxious to host Region VI this summer.  Please visit our Region VI CoP Page for additional information.  NAAE Region VI Conference


Speaking of the  NAAE Region VI Conference page, please take a moment to "Join this Group".  I'm going to use this page as a landing site for all Region VI News. 


Enjoy the spring!  Please don't hesitate to contact me if there is anything that NAAE can do for you!

Krista Pontius

Happy New Year!

Posted by Krista Pontius Jan 20, 2015

Happy New Year!  It is a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition to eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day.  Pork is the meat of choice because pigs "root ahead," rather than scratch backwards, symbolizing embracing new challenges head-on!  As an agricultural education family, I'm positive that we will have new challenges to embrace in 2015!


My name is Krista Pontius and I am pleased to serve you as the Region VI Vice-President.  I am beginning my second year of the three year term.  I have been teaching for 18 years, 16 of those years at Greenwood High School in Central Pennsylvania.  My husband, Jason, and I also operate Cocolamus Farm, which is a small dairy farm. We milk 40 Holstein cows and farm 500 acres of crops.   Our new Region VI Secretary is Sherisa Nailor, who teaches at Big Spring High School, in Pennsylvania.  Sherisa is an amazing teacher who serves our agricultural education family in many capacities.  Sherisa is a talented, driven, and dedicated individual who will serve you and all of Region VI exceptionally well.   If either of us can be of assistance to you, please feel free to contact us.  My email address is and Sherisa's is


The National Policy Seminar is right around the corner.  Please consider attending this event!  NPS will teach you how to effectively advocate for your program to everyone from school administrators and parents to legislators. NAAE will pay for one registration per state, so please consider taking advantage of this great opportunity!


Also, mark your calendars now for the Region VI Conference on June 22-25 at Rehoboth Beach, DE.  The Delaware Association is working hard to ensure that we have fun in the sun this summer!


Thanks for all that you do for your professional organization and more importantly for making a difference to every student, every day!

To help facilitate showing appropriate appreciation for our AWESOME professional development at NAAE, click on the google drive link to input the contact information of your administration so we can send them some super sweet letters!


NAAE Region VI: Letters of Appreciation


Thank You

Krista Pontius

Be the Change

Posted by Krista Pontius Sep 17, 2014


"Be the change you want to see in the world" by Mahatma Ghandhi is my favorite quote!  At the beginning of each school year, I always feel as if I have the opportunity to make positive changes in my classroom, which will affect my students and their future.  Whether it is the integration of technology, practicing inquiry-based learning, or simply stepping outside of my comfort zone with a new unit to stretch myself professionally, a new school year brings forth an opportunity for positive change.  It is important in our profession that we continually challenge ourselves to be better than we were last year, we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our profession and most importantly WE OWE IT TO OUR STUDENTS!  How are you going to step out of your comfort zone during the 2014-15 school year?


NAAE has a few exciting opportunities coming up in the near future.

Thank you all for everything that you do for your students and for our profession.  Please let me know if there is anything that NAAE can do for you!


I can remember the first time that I went to church camp.  My parents dropped me off, after a few tears they gave me a kiss, told me that they loved me and the last thing that they said before they left was, "Make sure you leave this cabin better than you found it!"  That statement is something that has stuck with me through my entire life -- always leave it better than you found it!  As a profession, leaving it better than we found it should be our common goal!  One way that you can make a difference it to run for office in your state or national association.  Our association has several leadership opportunities which could help you become involved, help us move forward into the future, and ultimately leave this profession better than we found it.  With the recent change in committee structure, there are several opportunities to serve on committees which gives each member a chance to have a voice in the vehicle used to drive the organization.  Additionally, we are seeking applicants for Regional Secretary. This is a one-year term and requires travel to the national and regional conference.  If you are interested, you must have a Memorandum of Understanding submitted to the NAAE Office by September 15th.  If you are interested in either of these aforementioned opportunities, please contact me for additional details (  I want to give a shout out to Connecticut for an incredible Region VI Conference. Dynamic workshops, amazing tours, and great opportunities for professional networking.  Thanks for all of your efforts!


Enjoy the rest of your summer and please let me know if there is anything that NAAE can do for you!