Agricultural Education for All is a joint partnership of the National Association of Agricultural Educators and the National FFA Organization with the goal of ensuring all in agricultural education feel welcome, safe and celebrated as their authentic selves. Every month in New Teacher News and Teach Ag Times, we will feature some of the outstanding teachers making a difference and creating inclusive, diverse and equitable programs for their students. For more information about Agricultural Education for All, please contact Ellen Thompson.
This month, we would like to introduce you to Paul Young, agriculture teacher at Cape Fear High School, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Paul has been teaching agriculture for three years, inspiring his students to become agriculturalists and leaders, while promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity in his classroom and in the ag education profession.
Who inspired you to be an ag teacher? My grandmother and my high school ag teacher both inspired me to become an ag teacher.
What motivates you to continue to teach ag? Agriculture was a huge part of my life ever since I was a child. I can remember being out in the garden with my grandmother helping her sow seeds, successfully tending to them and cooking the produce. I also helped tend to a small flock of chickens and a few pigs too. Many people are not aware of the importance of agriculture and where their food comes from and the processes that take place on the farm, so that is what motivates me to continue teaching agriculture. Promoting agriculture and making my students literate about agriculture.
What advice do you have for new teachers to create an inclusive and safe environment for your students to be their true, authentic selves? Whenever it’s your first time meeting new students it’s more than likely their first time meeting some of their new classmates, I always give those students the opportunity to break the ice between themselves and their classmates. Students may find their new best friend or even a new hobby in your classroom. Many students may not have friends, but since you engaged them in meeting new people, they may have found a new friend. Also, let your students know that you are there for them. Show your students that you love and support them, which is very vital in the times that we are in now.
What advice do you have for new teachers about being their true and authentic selves in the classroom? Why is that so important? Whenever you teach, in the classroom incorporate your personality and let your students know about you. Show them that you once sat in the same places they’re sitting in as middle or high school students. You will develop meaningful relationships with them and they will know you as a person, then teaching will be so much easier and enjoyable simply because you have established an authentic bond with your students. I am a very humorous teacher and I make learning more enjoyable -- students are excited to come to my class simply because they know that they are going to get some humor in class whenever they are present.
What is your advice to the ag ed profession to make ag ed a welcoming place for everyone? Embrace diversity head first. We are all different on the outside, but regardless of our differences we must be helpful regardless of the differences that we may exhibit. As a teacher, I make every effort to assist my students in some kind of way that is helpful to them, whether it's helping out with their acceptance in higher learning, finding a trade, or putting them on a team. I also give my students plenty of advice that is very beneficial to them. I make myself available for all of my students so that they know that they have the support they need at school.