Andrea Fristoe

Agricultural Education for ALL -- Hailey Nierling

Blog Post created by Andrea Fristoe on Jun 29, 2021

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 Hailey NierlingHailey is a senior at Southwest Minnesota State University, majoring in agricultural education, and will be student teaching this fall. She is dedicated to the future of agricultural education and ensuring our classrooms are a safe and welcoming environment for all. 

Who/what inspired you to become an ag teacher? I have always been an involved agriculture advocate. I enjoy talking, discovering, and engaging in everything agriculture-related. I was always fond of discussions I would have with peers who would ask me about fascinating agriculture topics. This, combined with my already-flourished love for the industry and FFA, inspired me to consider a career in agricultural education. When I reflected on what my career goals were, a degree in agricultural education met all my criteria. I have not thought about doing anything else since!


What are you most excited about for student teaching? I wanted my student teaching experience to be unique and push me outside of my comfort zone. My mentor teacher is the definition of an enterprising person. I am most excited to work under someone with such drive and initiative as he has. His classes are ones that will push me out of my comfort zone and teach me about other areas of agriculture! I’m also excited to watch my students learn alongside me this upcoming semester and watch them grow through their agriculture classes.


What advice do you have for your fellow preservice teachers as they begin to think about creating an inclusive and safe environment for your students to be their true, authentic selves? Sometimes students deserve to receive the benefit of the doubt. A student misbehaving in class could mean they’re just having a bad day or there could be a deeper meaning to their behavior that we don’t know about. Encourage a conversation with said student in private. Sometimes, showing you care is enough for a student to feel safe and included in the environment you created.    


What advice do you have for your fellow preservice teachers about being their true and authentic selves in the classroom? Why is that so important? Some of the best advice I’ve ever received from a mentor teacher was to “let students into your life in an appropriate manner.” So often teachers feel they need to mask so much of their lives to their students. At the end of the day, we’re all human and we’re not always at 100%. When this mentor of mine is having a hard day, she lets her students know that. This goes vice versa, when she’s having a good day as well. She has seen this help her be her true, authentic self, but also improve relationships and trust between her and her students.


What is your advice to the ag ed profession to make ag ed a welcoming place for everyone? There is a place for all students in the agriculture classroom. I challenge ag ed professionals to implement this idea while recruiting for their agriculture programs as well. Help students of all interests and backgrounds find their place in your program to make them feel welcome and a part of your family.