Name: Alli Abadir
University: University of Missouri
Home State: Missouri
Year in School: Junior
High School Agriculture Program: Columbia High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? I decided to pursue a career in agricultural education because I want to share the uniqueness agriculture can bring to the table. Agriculture is incredibly diverse, and I believe each student can find their niche in the agriculture classroom somewhere. Agriculture is unique as students can take classes and pursue careers in a multitude of different industries. Agricultural education is also special as it values and promotes career exploration, hands-on learning, and leadership development.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? As a future teacher, I am most looking forward to helping students consider a career in the agricultural industry. Agriculture has the mass responsibility of feeding the world and I am excited to help create the next generation of agriculturalists, farmers, scientists, and entrepreneurs. I am looking forward to watching each student find which sector of agriculture they are passionate about and making a difference and improvements in that area of agriculture.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? The University of Missouri is a great place to pursue a degree in agricultural education. Through the help of amazing advisors in the agricultural education department, each student has the opportunity to acquire a solid foundation of communication and leadership skills. Students also obtain agricultural knowledge while earning an agricultural education degree from Mizzou’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Also, 87% of eligible applicants receive scholarships from the college of agriculture.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? The most rewarding experience as an agricultural education major is having the opportunity to share the importance of agricultural education with others. Through state conventions, camps, and workshops I have the chance to help students celebrate the importance of agricultural education and recruit the next generation of agriculture teachers.
Advice for someone considering ag ed?�� Remember your “why.” Why did you first think about becoming an agriculture teacher? Whether it was because you are passionate about teaching youth, advocating for agriculture, or many other things, go back to what motivates you and follow your passion. Personally, what drives and motivates me to continue following a career in agricultural education is my future students. Each endeavor I undertake in college and in life is to craft myself to be a better future teacher for my students someday. Teaching agriculture is also an incredibly rewarding career as it gives you the opportunity to touch and change many lives.
The number one thing you must do in college is: Try new things! As agriculture teachers we are given the challenge of teaching a variety of subjects and it is important to take each opportunity possible to further educate ourselves in different sectors of agriculture.
Favorite hobby: Showing livestock!
Quote that inspires me: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” – C.S. Lewis
Name: Brittney Beck
University: University of Arkansas
Home State: Arkansas
Year in School: Senior
High School Agriculture Program: Greenbrier High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? My high school agriculture program changed my life drastically, making me into the person that I am today. It taught me responsibility, life lessons, and gave me so many opportunities over the years. I want to become an ag teacher to impact the lives of students and give them the same opportunities I was given in high school.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? Making an impact in students' lives and helping them see and reach their full potential.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? The University of Arkansas provides so much hands-on experience and research. We have the most amazing faculty, best traditions and atmosphere, and most importantly we are a family. Plus, who doesn't love daily food like donut Wednesday and getting their name added to the over four mile long sidewalk.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? Being a judge at several contests and getting to work with FFA members.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? Do it; you are cultivating the future leaders of tomorrow!
The number one thing you must do in college is: Get involved with clubs and take every opportunity you get.
Favorite hobby: Traveling
Quote that inspires me: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are!"
Name: Courtney Wiedenmann
University: Oklahoma State University
Home State: Illinois
Year in School: Senior
High School Agriculture Program: Orion High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? The events which helped me decide to become an agriculture teacher occurred when I coached numerous horse judging teams. I enjoyed teaching these members and witnessing the “light bulb” moments.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am looking forward to providing students critical life skills and watching how they apply them to their future endeavors. I will encourage my students to apply their classroom knowledge and skills to agriculture labs in addition to maintaining a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? I transferred to Oklahoma State University (OSU) in fall 2018 and was immediately accepted with open arms. The department offers extra courses to assist with developing your skills as a future agricultural education instructor. Some of these courses include parliamentary procedure, Microsoft Office for future agricultural education instructors, and planning and conducting agricultural youth activities (in which you serve as student superintendent for one of the state LDE or CDE contests). The department also offers the opportunity to participate in study abroad trips, such as traveling to the Czech Republic. These opportunities and experiences exemplify the success OSU professors and teaching assistants want for each student within the OSU ag ed department.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? My most rewarding experience so far was coaching FFA horse judging teams. These teams sparked my interest in an education major due to teaching practices and seeing their successes both at contests and within the equine industry.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? My advice for someone considering an ag ed major is pursuing opportunities to learn more about the agricultural industry. For example, taking an extra animal science class to broaden your knowledge about a species you have minimal exposure to. This will assist you with learning about their industry and help you teach a future lesson.
The number one thing you must do in college is: Get involved on campus! Join leadership and community service organizations and do not be afraid of running for an officer position. You will also meet other students within your major and form friendships that will last a lifetime.
Favorite hobby: Horseback Riding
Quote that inspires me: "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard." -Kevin Durant
High School Agriculture Program: West Craven High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? I decided to be an agriculture teacher because I loved learning about all of the aspects of agriculture and grew up in an ag-centered family. I have seen first-hand at my high school how many people are uneducated about agriculture and want to be a part of the change. I was very involved in my FFA program in high school and as an officer. I loved seeing the members of our chapter grow as leaders. Both of my ag teachers in high school were key to helping me realize my passion for teaching others about agriculture.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am looking forward most to seeing my students grow as leaders and help them obtain the best experiences and opportunities.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education?
North Carolina State University promotes diversity and inclusion and has the motto “Think and Do.” Through many clubs and classes, the students are given opportunities to network and be prepared for the workforce. I personally have found my place in the ag program with just being at NC State for one semester in the Spring Connection program. The teachers and other students have really made me feel like I belong and have given me an equal opportunity for success. NC State has approximately 2,099 acres of land used for research, growing crops, and raising livestock. This gives students the opportunity for hands-on learning and to be able to experience when they speak to their future students about their first-hand experiences in the agriculture industry. This past spring I was given the opportunity through the Animal Science Club to train and show a year-old dairy heifer for the club day. Going three days a week for two hours really gave me a break from the stress of classes because I was where I love to be -- outside and with animals. This experience I will always have in my memories and will be able to teach my students how to show animals because I have the first-hand experience of showing livestock animals. Also, NC State hosts a Farm Animal Day event where thousands of children and parents come out to the NCSU Beef Unity in Raleigh, NC to learn about livestock and the agriculture industry. Students volunteer to work shifts to teach the people coming in about agriculture. This is another experience that I have had that has better prepared me for my degree in agriculture. The opportunities that NC State provides is abundant and the faculty and staff are very helpful and are interested in each student to think and do the extraordinary.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? So far my most rewarding experience is going to the Governor Morehead festival with the NCSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. We held a festival at the Governor Morehead School of the Blind to teach the students at the school about agriculture. Each club in the college had a booth at the festival. At my booth with the Agricultural and Extension Education Club, we taught the students about the parts of a flower through a hands-on craft where they made a flower out of tissue paper, egg crate, and pipe cleaners. This was my most rewarding experience as an ag ed major because seeing the excitement on their faces because we not only cared about them enough to have the festival, but also work with them individually to make their very only flower craft and learn about the parts of a flower.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? Teaching ag is rewarding because you have multiple aspects of a career. You get to teach students about an industry that feeds the world, you get to lead students in community outreach, you get to make a difference in students' lives, you get to be outside with plants and animals, as well as inside teaching students. Teaching ag gives you the opportunity to make a difference in students' lives and that is something that can change the world.
The number one thing you must do in college is: The number one thing you must do in college is participate in campus activities. College is stressful, that is no secret, but building relationships with students with the same interests as you helps make your college experience memorable and fun! The best way to find people with similar interests is to go to club meetings. College is about getting out of your comfort zone and learning things.
Favorite hobby: Knitting and going on walking trails.
Quote that inspires me: “If life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up. And if you get up, you can stand up. And if you stand up, you can fight for your dream once again. You have something special. You have GREATNESS within you!” -Les Brown
Name: Joseph Brock
University: University of Kentucky
Grade level: Junior
Home state: Kentucky
High school Ag program: Jessamine County
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? I decided to be an ag teacher because of the experiences I had in high school with my best friend. We were both from non-traditional backgrounds and decided to sign up for Principles of Agriculture together. It was our first class on our first day of high school. From then on we both started becoming more involved and learning all that we could about the agriculture industry. My knowledge of agriculture has changed my life and I want to have the same impact on students that my ag teachers had on my best friend and me.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I’m looking forward to a lot of aspects of teaching and having my own classroom. The thing I’m looking forward to most is mentoring and inspiring students. In agricultural education there are many opportunities to learn outside of the classroom and I want to take those opportunities to be candid with my students in talking about life and uplifting them to overcome the obstacles that they’re facing.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? The University of Kentucky is an excellent place to study agricultural education because the community here is tight knit where everyone knows everyone and we place a great deal of emphasis on inclusion of all students. We share ideas on everything from curriculum writing to service learning in youth organizations. We also have plenty of fun times and laughs in our Agricultural Education Society meetings which every student in the major is part of since they pay our dues as well as our dues into NAAE (National Association of Agricultural Educators).
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? So far the most rewarding experience as an ag ed major has been doing observations with my cooperating teachers. At the start of my sophomore year, I began doing teaching observations in two agricultural education classrooms in the area. Being able to watch and reflect on the teaching methods of the two cooperating teachers was very valuable, but most importantly, being able to talk to them about why they do things was impactful to me.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? My advice for people considering agricultural education varies from person to person. If you’re reading this and are considering agricultural education as a major, the best advice I can give is to talk to someone who is or is working on becoming an ag teacher and see what they say based on their first-hand experiences. There are a lot of different factors that go in to deciding a college major and talking to someone who has been through the process is definitely a big help. I am always willing to talk to students about considering agricultural education as a college major, so feel free to reach out if you get the chance.
The number one thing you must do in college is: The number one thing you must do in college is find a group — any group. Whether it’s a group you already know people in or a group that is brand new to you, find a group of people to spend time with. Life is hard and having a group of people there to support you, to cut loose and hang out with, or to challenge you to try new things makes a huge difference.
Favorite hobby: It’s tough for me to decide on a favorite hobby. I love spending time outdoors so much that it concerns my family sometimes when I take days or weeks long expeditions. I have two kayaks that I love going out in with friends. I love fishing, rock climbing, hiking, swimming and pretty much anything else outdoors. I also like crafting — anything from oil paintings to woodworking or cross stitching. I’m not very good at crafting, but I still like being creative.
Quote that inspires me: A quote that inspires me is “There is unpanned gold in every soul you run into. No matter what walk of life they come from.” -- Robert Downey Jr. I think it is a quote that my life reflects and that applies to agricultural education. I try to always look for the best in people and to see the potential in them. There are factors in peoples’ lives that they have no control over and no matter what those are or where they come from, I want people to see the best in themselves and what they can potentially be.
Name: Katie Ott
University: Purdue University
Home State: Indiana
Year in School: Senior
High School Agriculture Program: I did not participate in agriculture in high school!
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? Through my time at Purdue and the specified agricultural education classes, I became more and more interested in pursuing a career as a high school agriculture teacher.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am looking forward to continuing to improve my agricultural literacy and grow alongside my students.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? Purdue’s agricultural education program is a tight knit group of students who support each other in every aspect of life. Purdue also has an extensive history with midwestern agriculture and connections around the world. There are a multitude of networking opportunities in our university.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? My most rewarding experience so far is coming home on vacations and having friends and family members come to me for advice or with questions about food, advertisements, and productions.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? Come in with an open mind and be prepared to always learn new things!
The number one thing you must do in college is: Go to class!
Favorite hobby: Crafting
Quote that inspires me: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible!’” - Audrey Hepburn
University: Auburn University
Home State: Alabama
Year in School: Junior
High School Agriculture Program: White Plains High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? My mom is a teacher, so I grew up around education. I have always loved the outdoors and wanted to pursue a career track that combined both my love for education and nature!
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am most looking forward to being able to provide my students with many different classes involving agriculture. I believe diversity is key to creating an ideal learning environment, and in doing so, I believe it will allow me to create meaningful relationships with my students.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? Auburn University is a land grant university, so we pride ourselves on agriculture. Auburn was built on a strong agricultural and mechanical foundation. Our facilities, our faculty, and our campus find ways to incorporate agriculture into everyday life and continue to educate all students on the importance of agriculture.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? Ag ed has continued to provide a sense of versatility and diversity into my coursework. I have loved being able to learn about all topics on the agricultural scale. I have managed to learn about soil, animals, sustainability, and horticulture on deep levels in short periods of time. I continue to learn something new every day, which is extremely rewarding.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? It is a wonderful major that includes so much versatility. If you have an interest in agriculture, children, and or animals, give it a try!
The number one thing you must do in college is: Take time to yourself! College can be extremely overwhelming, so do not be afraid to have a day all to yourself to chill.
Favorite hobby: Cooking, cleaning, anything outdoors
Quote that inspires me: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” – John Wesley
Name: Maddie Weninger
University: South Dakota State University
Home State: Minnesota
Year in School: Junior
High School Agriculture Program: Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? I grew up in a very successful FFA chapter with advisors who not only cared about the achievement of our chapter, but also investing in students to see them grow into the people they hope to be. This support paired with my passion for informing students about agriculture helped me realize the right profession for me.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am most looking forward to making connections with students. I believe that every person can find their place in agricultural education and the National FFA Organization; we strive to be inclusive of all people, whether you have a farming background or not. I hope to be a mentor to students who they can trust, while also pushing them to their full potential.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education?
South Dakota State University's agricultural education not only has incredible faculty, but also a unique student culture. Students are given countless opportunities for professional growth, such as judging FFA contests, connecting with each other, attending conferences, and much more. We are always being supported and supporting each other.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? Last year at the National FFA Convention, I received the opportunity to chaperone students from my home chapter with my agriculture teachers, and it truly showed me the reasons I hope to teach agriculture. Making connections with all kinds of people, witnessing student success, and seeing FFA from a completely different viewpoint were just a few of the aspects of that trip that sparked a passion in me to keep pursuing this degree.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? My advice would be to go for it. Agricultural education is extremely rewarding, and even if you decide you don’t want to teach, you still have so many opportunities in agriculture and beyond. The non-traditional aspect of teaching appeals to many people, and I believe that’s a strength for college students who can’t see themselves as a teacher -- being an agriculture teacher is completely different. Each ag teacher has their own style of teaching and their personality can come out in the classroom!
The number one thing you must do in college is: Do something that you would never expect or see yourself doing. Whether that looks like joining a club you never imagined you would join or working for a business you have never heard of, I believe it is extremely important to create your own identity when you move away from home and the best way to do that is by doing something uncomfortable at first.
Favorite hobby: I love exploring, whether it’s near my home, or in a completely new place. I love learning about the history and importance of areas, but also being able to get outside and see the beauty of nature.
Quote that inspires me: “It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life.” – Cesar Chavez
Name: Matt Younker
University: Wilmington College
Home State: Ohio
Year in School: Junior
High School Agriculture Program: Wilmington High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? Even as a young child, I knew I wanted to become an educator; I just didn’t know where I would fit in until my senior year of high school. As a senior, I was the President of my FFA chapter, and our teacher quit her job half-way through the school year. It was her first-year teaching, and she just didn’t seem ready to have full control over her own classroom. Looking back on the experience, I am thankful for the circumstances my peers and I were given. After she quit, I assisted the administrators and substitute teachers with lesson plan prep and organized all our remaining FFA events for the school year, which made me decide to become an agricultural educator.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? Getting to make an impact in students lives, just like my agricultural educators did for me.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? As part of Wilmington’s Teacher Education Licensure Program, you are immediately immersed in the teaching profession, with field experiences your first year as a Wilmington College student. By the time you complete your program of study, you will have engaged in a minimum of 200 hours of hands-on learning experiences in a variety of PK-12 classrooms, in addition to 16 weeks of full-time student teaching. You will gain not only a thorough knowledge of the content area(s) you will teach, but also an in-depth view of teaching and learning that maximizes positive student outcomes.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? My field placement at Miami Trace High School was wonderful, and on my last day I heard several times that the students would “miss me,” which proves to me that I made a small impact in their lives during the short period of time I got to spend with them.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? You will regret it if you do not follow through with it! If you make it through college as an ag ed major and decide you don’t want to be in the classroom, there are numerous jobs that you can attain with a degree in agricultural education.
The number one thing you must do in college is: Study! College is hard, but it is also rewarding – if you do it correctly.
Favorite hobby: Showing Livestock (Cattle, Hogs, Sheep & Goats) and helping young 4-Hers with their livestock.
Quote that inspires me: "On the 9th day after God made a Farmer, God said 'I need someone to educate the youth about my land and creatures, so God made an Ag Teacher.'" -- Jeremiah 29:11
Name: Matthew Wilson
University: Southern Union
Home State: Alabama
Year in School: Sophomore
High School Ag Program: Horseshoe Bend High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? Agricultural education was a large part of my high school experience. Through my ag classes and the FFA, I found my future as an agriscience educator. Educating future generations about the importance of agriculture is needed now more than ever. As the world’s population increases, so does our responsibility to provide food security while protecting our natural resources.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I look forward to giving my students the same opportunities I was given to discover a love of agriculture and to develop leadership skills. Impacting the future by enabling the success of my students is my #1 priority.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? I am currently taking my basic classes at Southern Union, where I was blessed to receive the Presidential Scholarship. After this year, I plan to transfer to Auburn University to continue pursuing my degree in agriscience education. Southern Union is the largest feeder school of students transferring into Auburn University, preparing students for success in all areas. Auburn University is a nationally recognized research institute, providing agriscience educators with the needed knowledge and skills to effectively lead a classroom, while impacting the future of agriculture in their communities, state, nation, and beyond.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? I have just completed my freshman year college and my year of service as an Alabama FFA State Officer. This was a rewarding experience that enabled me to gain insights into agricultural education in my home state and my nation. I was also blessed to be given the opportunity to present at the National 4-H Agriscience Summit in Washington DC. My presentation, Ag Tank: Marketing Matters, informed attendees about the most effective marketing practices in the field of agriculture.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? My advice would be to get involved early on in your high school career with your ag department and the FFA. Doing so will open you up to a world of opportunities that give you hands-on experiences in the field that will enable you to make that choice with conviction and confidence.
The number one thing you must do in college is: Make the most of networking opportunities that will certainly benefit your future.
Favorite hobby: Kayaking
Quote that inspires me: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Name: Miranda Hornung
University: University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Home State: Nebraska
Year in School: Sophomore
High School Agriculture Program: Raymond Central
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? I always knew I wanted to be a teacher just like my mom, but I was never passionate about a certain subject until taking an introduction to agriculture class my 7th grade year. As I became more involved in my local FFA chapter and took as many agriculture courses as possible, I realized that there was not another subject or industry that I could teach or be involved in and have the same level of passion. The agriculture classroom was a home for me during high school and I want to be an agriculture teacher so that my future students can feel that same way.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am most looking forward to creating an inclusive environment in my classroom where students from any background are able to experience hands-on agriculture and potentially choose it as a career path.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has outstanding curriculum, knowledgeable faculty and staff, and an unmatched research platform. There are three options inside the ag ed major including leadership, teaching, and communication which provides a wide variety under the ag ed umbrella for those interested in teaching and beyond. I truly believe "there is no place like Nebraska," just as our school's fight song says, and that each student is provided with countless opportunities to grow, learn, and succeed in an education in agriculture.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? As part of a course this past year, I was required to spend 40 hours in a high school classroom observing an agriculture teacher. This experience allowed me to see a different program and teaching style than that of my agriculture teacher. I made connections with a few different agriculture teachers and even had the opportunities to teach a few lessons to gain real experience as a teacher.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? Spend time in a classroom setting, observing an agriculture teacher. Even if you took agriculture classes in high school, being able to observe from a "potential teacher" standpoint instead of a "student" standpoint is very beneficial in deciding if ag ed is the path for you.
Number one thing you must do in college is: Get to know the faculty & staff! I can't begin to count the amount of times I have needed extra help with assignments, assistance with class scheduling, or even to interview the dean for a class project. Already having a connection or an introduction to the faculty makes it SO much easier for you to get whatever help you need and for them to help you.
Favorite hobby: Singing & playing piano
Quote that inspires me: "There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs." - Anonymous
Name: Nicole Hover
University: University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Home State: Massachusetts
Year in School: Senior
High School Agriculture Program: Norfolk County Agricultural High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? I saw how much my agriculture teachers connected with their students because they shared the same interests. It is such a unique career to go into because each day you are teaching about a subject you truly enjoy. The students are motivated to learn and want to be in the classroom each day.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? Seeing the student who may have not done well in a conventional high school flourish in a setting they are passionate for. Throughout the years, I will see students grow and develop into future educators, veterinarians, farmers, and more.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? The Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass offers a diversified program in sustainable food and farming. The best part of the program at Stockbridge is I am able to make the program my own and take a variety of courses that puts me on the path to teach agricultural education. Even though UMass is a large school, one of the benefits of being in Stockbridge is that the class sizes are small and the professors are able to connect with each student.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? I think to be able to make connections with different educators and students who have the same goal in mind. It’s great to be with like-minded people who have the same passion as you.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? As an agricultural education major, you will be studying and working in an industry that is constantly changing and evolving new technology and equipment. You will be one of the first people in the agriculture industry to share the newer technology with the next generation of agriculturalists. As a teacher, you get to see firsthand these creative students grow and flourish in the agriculture industry, whether they want to be a farmer, veterinarian, agricultural mechanic, or an agricultural education teacher themselves.
The number one thing you must do in college is: Find a solid friend group that supports, cares, and keeps you focused on your goals. These friends will become your family away from home and will help you through it all.
Favorite hobby: What I enjoy most is showing dogs, especially my goldendoodle, Molly.
Quote that inspires me: "Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do." -- John Wooden
Name: Taylor Leigh Ford
University: Chico State University
Home State: California
Year in School: Senior
High School Agriculture Program: Sutter Union High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher?
I decided to become an agriculture teacher for several reasons. One reason has a lot to do with my college journey that I went through to get where I am at now. My first two years of college I was a nursing major before I switched over to agricultural education. I know what you must be asking yourself, "why the big change," right? Well at the end of my second year of college one, of my certified nursing professors watched me teach a lesson in class and asked to speak with me afterwards. She said that she had never watched someone connect with students the way I did and that though she knew I would make a great nurse; she just could not help but see talent wasted if I did not consider teaching. At the time it all started to make sense, I had a huge passion for caring for others, along with teaching. This journey has given me an opportunity to see what my heart truly was being called to do all along -- teach. For me though, teaching goes far beyond just giving a lecture in the classroom. My goal is to be a champion for my students. To encourage them, believe in them and to push them to become the very best that they can be. I want to teach because it is my passion and something I absolutely love to do. My life goal is to know that I made each of my students feel like they mattered and that they always have a place where they can call home. At the end of the day, we as teachers are what can make either a positive or negative difference. Mr. Patton, the Executive Director and FFA Center Manager for California could not have said it any better, “student success breathes success.” If we as future agricultural teachers put in the time, the passion, the support, and all that sets up our students for success; it is then that success will happen. Each student is capable of so many things, but it takes a special person to believe in them and challenge them to see just how special they are. My desire as a future agriculture teacher is to be that special person for my students.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? When I think about only having one more year left before I start student teaching, I seriously just want to jump up with excitement. I would say that I am looking the most forward to connecting with all of my future students when it comes to teaching. I know not every day will be perfect, especially in the beginning of my teaching journey, since a lot of my days will consist of learning more from my students than they will be learning from me. This is how we grow into great teachers though and I seriously cannot wait for that. We as teachers have to be the heart of our classroom. I want every student who walks through my classroom door to feel like they have a place to call home. Not every student comes from a great background and I cannot wait to support those students and help them achieve more than they will ever expect to. Sometimes it just takes one person to make a difference in someone's life, and I want nothing more than to be that person. No matter where my students are at in their life, I want them to know that they can do anything they set their minds to, and that I will do everything in my power to help get them there. This is what teaching is all about! Teaching goes way beyond just a lesson being taught in a classroom -- it's about shaping students until they shine so they can go into the world and achieve their dreams. Their success is what makes my job the most rewarding job out there. As a future teacher these are just a few things I look forward to most and I certainly cannot wait to be in that classroom!
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? When I switched my major from nursing to agricultural education, I also had to change schools. Chico State University was hands-down the best decision I have ever made! If you are looking for a school that will give you hands-on experience along with professors who truly care about you, then this is your school. I have never felt so cared for and supported like the way I do from the college of agriculture at CSU Chico. The professors here want you to succeed and provide you with more than you could even imagine in order to be successful. I can definitely say that I would not want to go to another school to get a degree in agricultural education. As soon as you walk into the college, it truly feels like home and I cannot think of a better place to get your education.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? This is such a hard question because I’ve had so many rewarding experiences as an ag ed major. If I had to pick though, I would say that one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had so far was attending this year’s California State FFA Convention. I had the privilege of putting on workshops for all the students while I was there, along with getting to work the Teach Ag booth. The experiences, the leadership roles, the friendships, and most of all the passion we all shared as a group while we were there was beyond anything I could ever compare to. Being surrounded by so many driven individuals with a drive to make a positive difference just made this trip even that more special. The best part of it all was that I never would have guessed that I made a difference. After I taught my workshops, I had several FFA members come up and say thank you, followed by handshakes, selfies, and many conversations. This was by far the best part of it all! Knowing that I made a positive difference meant so much to me. Just from this experience I cannot wait to improve my skills and grow an even bigger passion for teaching agriculture.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? If you are considering agricultural education, I have three words for you, GO FOR IT! I can honestly not think of a more rewarding profession to get into. If you want to make a difference in someone's life, travel, and do something new every day, then this is your route to take. One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that you have to come from an agriculture background in order to be an agriculture teacher. This is not true because if you have a passion to learn and a big heart, you can be one of the best teachers out there. Agricultural education is hands-down the best profession, so come join us!
The number one thing you must do in college is: When you get in college the best advice I can give you is to get involved. School is important but being involved in extracurricular activities truly makes you a well-rounded person. I have taken a lot of what I have learned in the classroom and applied it to my life outside of it just from stepping out of my comfort zone and getting more involved. If it wasn’t for getting involved more through the college of agriculture at CSU Chico, I definitely would not have met all the great friends I have now and made all the fun memories that go along with it. Study hard and have fun because college goes by fast.
Favorite hobby: There are a lot of things I love to do, but I would have to say one of my favorites is giving horseback riding lessons. I teach kids of all ages and let me tell you, it is one of the most rewarding hobbies out there. I love what I do, and seeing one of my students finally learn how to do something new on the horse and their excitement from it truly makes my heart smile. My students play a huge role in my life and I would not be the person I am today without them.
Quote that inspires me: “It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you use that makes a difference” -- Zig Ziglar
Name: Tayte Jussel
University: University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Home State: Nebraska
Year in School: Sophomore
High School Agriculture Program: O’Neill Public High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? Agricultural education has played an incredibly large role in my high school career and has truly helped make me into the person I am today. I want to help students find their passion and purpose in life just as I did, and I believe that through classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experiences, and FFA I can give my students the same opportunities (and hopefully even more) needed to be successful in their future careers and lives.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am most looking forward to gaining a new perspective of the agriculture industry by teaching students in metropolitan areas. In an urban setting, most students start with little understanding of the agriculture industry, and I believe that by educating them through ag ed, students will be able to bring a different approach to solving agricultural issues that they may be faced with in the future. I am incredibly excited to begin developing these students that have little to no background to the agriculture industry and help them find a passion for it.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? The University of Nebraska – Lincoln is one of the best places to pursue a degree in agricultural education because the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is a supportive community of dedicated staff and passionate students who believe in the future of the agriculture industry. The university continues to work hard to further agriculture through youth development of young agriculturalists by hosting events such as Career Development Events at the Nebraska FFA State Convention, as well as numerous other agriculture-based conferences. With all of these youth-based events and conferences on campus, there are many opportunities for students to get involved with youth that are possibly interested in a career in agriculture, and it gives you an opportunity to help educate them.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? My most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far has definitely been getting the chance to work at the Nebraska State FFA Convention this year. Through working at convention, I was able to see the behind-the-scenes action that takes place and how much work each and every Nebraska FFA Association employee, chapter advisor, and state officer puts into the event. Overall, this was an incredible learning experience for me, and will help me become a successful agricultural educator in the future.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? To someone considering agricultural education, I would advise them to be open to the many different options at hand and to find the best program for them to grown and learn in.
The number one thing you must do in college is: The number one thing you must do in college is step out of your comfort zone and take advantage of the vast opportunities presented to you. Through taking these opportunities, you will be able to grow and become the best version of yourself.
Favorite hobby: My favorite hobbies are playing my ukulele, spending time with my golden lab, Tucker, hammocking, and traveling.
Quote that inspires me: “The power to change the world starts with us first changing our beliefs and ourselves.” – anonymous