Communities of Practice (CoP) is a professional networking and sharing site for agricultural educators. You can find discussions, resources, blogs and tools related to more than 30 agricultural education community topics. As with any community, you get the most out of the community by participating. We want everyone to participate no matter if you’ve been teaching one year or 50, you have something of value to share.
To provide the best possible Communities of Practice experience we would like feedback from our NAAE Members and Communities of Practice users about your experience with the platform.
Please take a few moments to answer the questions in this survey. Every response helps us improve the Communities of Practice experience, and better serve you.
Questions may be directed to Olivia Thomas at email@example.com
Being an Ag Teacher is more often a calling than a career. It’s a lot of hard work, time and devotion. Ag teachers are rarely, if ever, in the spotlight because they are the ones shining that spotlight on their students. So, recognition in any way is always welcome, but especially when it comes on a national stage. Krista Pontius, of Greenwood Middle/High School in Millerstown, Perry County, Pennsylvania was one of the finalists in the 'Live with Kelly and Ryan' ‘Top Teacher Search’, and on May 7th she was announced the winner. However, that is only where the story starts.
“I was in my classroom [when I found out]. I actually wasn’t watching it because I don’t have a television in my classroom.” Krista says about the day in question. “To be honest, there was a news reporter scheduled to be there and I was trying really hard to keep my students on task because I knew that he wanted to take classroom photos.”
She was teaching a class on how to measure trees and one of the students needed a pencil, so she went to her desk to get one and saw a text message from her husband. Quickly, about 60 more arrived and the celebration began almost immediately.
Minutes after it was announced that she'd won, the fire alarm rang. The school emptied and standing on the soccer field Pontius found the entire school cheering ‘KP’. They then started chanting ‘SOLD’ and she sang her signature song ‘Sold: Grundy County Auction’ to the entire student body.
“It was overwhelming and humbling to say the least, especially when I looked down on the soccer field and saw my colleagues, who I have such respect for, cheering for me. It was very hard to hold back the tears.” She remembers. Since then, it has been a constant whirlwind of interviews, businesses showing up at the school to give her gifts, and EVERYONE wanting to share their congratulations.
“It is kind of funny,” Pontius remarks, “because the producer from 'Live with Kelly & Ryan' called me the next day to see if I was going to be in the paper. I politely explained to her that I didn’t think that she [understood] the kind of ruckus something like this would cause in a small town.”
All across Perry County there are billboards going up with congratulations, numerous papers have included articles about the event, such as the National FFA, PennLive, ABC, and various agriculture magazines. She has also received a request to be the Keynote Speaker at the Arkansas Career and Tech Ed conference this summer.
And of course, there are the prizes to be put to use. Greenwood is a small school, so Pontius is excited to able to share the money with every classroom teacher in the district which comes out to about $175 per classroom teacher. Though she realizes that it’s not a large amount of money, she says that at least everyone will be able to get a little something for their classrooms next year.
“The Greenwood Wildcats will always be my favorite team and agricultural education will always be my passion.” Pontius remarks. “Although I don’t think that I’ve ever done anything special to deserve a title such as ‘Top Teacher’, I am thrilled that this recognition has brought positive attention to education, especially during a year which has been so full of roadblocks and challenges.”
It is very important to Pontius to share this achievement, because, as she says: “this isn’t about me, it’s about our entire school. As educators we know that we are only as successful as the students, parents, community, and colleagues who support our endeavors each and every day.” Proving that, as ever, she is dedicated to shining that spotlight on others.
Adaptation is often the norm for Ag Teachers. Every day is a new adventure, every activity turns out differently for every class, and every lesson plan is more guide than firm timeline. And all over the country Ag Teachers band together to lend a hand or an ear, but most frequently, an idea.
From the NAAE’s Communities of Practice to the Ag Ed Discussion Lab on Facebook, our members are asking questions and posting resources every day. This community and the sense of togetherness it inspires is what pushes our profession forward every day. Every post reaches thousands of teachers, meaning that every post helps countless students and in turn, those students go out and become leaders, problem solvers, entrepreneurs and agriculturalists.
Below we have accumulated just a small portion of what our membership has been posting this last month:
For more resources for lesson planning, professional development, and support you can follow the links below!
Although April seems a little early to be looking forward to December, the NAAE Award and Scholarship season means our membership begins anticipating winter in spring. Every year ag teachers from across the country begin preparing their applications, gathering photos, and in Allison Meadows case, figuring out how to create a video.
“As an ag teacher in Oregon, we lean strongly on the teacher next door and across the state.” Meadows said when asked why she applied for the Region I Ideas Unlimited award last year. “I think it's important to share ideas with each other and to promote our programs. The more people that apply for the award - the more good ideas [we] gain!”
When the application process changed last year to accommodate the pandemic and subsequent quarantine Meadows wasn’t daunted. With some quick googling and a lot of work she was able to create her video much earlier than she thought, and at the 2020 Virtual NAAE Convention we all got to watch as she described her idea for bringing together FFA members and Alumni alike.
“I love when past students donate their old blue corduroy for new members to wear.” Meadows says about her idea. “When I send a Freshman into the closet to find a jacket that fits, they always ask about the name on the jacket and I promptly give them a short bio. For some jackets, I've had to dig far into my memory bank to remember [the] details. I always wondered, ‘Who will share these students' legacies once I'm gone?’ I wanted to put a short bio on the inside pocket of each jacket but quickly realized that a piece of paper can be lost.”
So, she created a "Legacy Patch" to iron on the inside of each jacket. Included on the patch are past officer positions, CDE success/passions, favorite memories, words of encouragement, etc. Before she started the legacy patches, she had a hard time convincing the seniors to leave their beloved blue corduroy behind. However, the legacy patches have done what the name suggests; they’ve encouraged the students to leave a legacy behind. Now, seniors ask to leave their jacket in the closet and ask to fill out a patch. They are proud to leave their jacket knowing that future members will learn about who they were and what they were passionate about. A simple patch of biographical information has transformed how these students view success, tradition,and the FFA chapter history.
When Meadows applied to the Ideas Unlimited award she and the rest of our award winners had no idea how different their experience would be to the award winners of years past.
“[It was] unprecedented...but so cool!” Meadows assured when asked about her experience. “It was a total surprise getting the plaque, goodies, and IU award winner poster in the mail. I felt celebrated within my school building. In fact, our building administration shared my award video with our staff. Because of the nature of the virtual convention, I love that NAAE staff went above and beyond to make the award winners feel celebrated. [I’m] looking forward to celebrating other members in the future!”
The 2021 applications are now open on the NAAE website, and you can find more information on our awards page here. There are many awards and scholarships available and most of them are open now! If you have any questions please contact Sarah Warren.
“Don't hold back because you don't think your idea isn't mind blowing! [Do it!]” Meadows urged. “Do it because everyone needs to share what they're developing in their own towns so that we can [all] better our cohort of ag teachers [together].”
In BBC’s new program, “Follow the Food,” renowned botanist James Wong explores how we can feed the world’s ever-growing population, all the way from farm to fork. Especially timely due to COVID-19’s impact on our food chain, the show episodes look at farming, science, technology, and consumer behaviors to determine how we can feed the world without harming our planet.
The program episodes can be streamed free of charge from the BBC Follow the Food website. Further, the website contains articles and deep dives on climate change, vertical/urban farming, regenerative farming, data-driven farming, food security, precision farming, and many other topics. These episodes can be great topic introductions, lesson wrap-ups, and an in-class conversation starter for educators. Since episodes are free of charge, don't require a cable or satellite subscription, and require no login information, they can also be great for distance learning.
The kit included:
Valued at $150, the selected hosts received the kits at no cost.
Hello, NAAE members!
I write you, today, with a sense of bittersweet. This will be my last "News and Views" post as a member of the NAAE Board of Directors. I'm very much ready to relax a little bit and spend more time with my family. Speaking of which, I want to give a special shout out to my beautiful wife, Angie and our daughter Ella for their support of me as I've served the association. I love you!
My retirement from the Board will begin the first time in nearly 15 years or more that I've had some sort of elected or appointed role within the Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers (IAVAT) or NAAE. I remember my first position well. I served as the Section 9 IAVAT Secretary-Treasurer, and I was responsible for taking minutes at our fall and winter meetings and keeping track of the section treasury. I guess things just kind of evolved from there.
In Illinois, you can retire with a full pension after 34 years. If you look at it that way, I have been working for the association for about half of my career. I have to be honest. It really doesn't seem like it's been that long.
I shouldn't let my nostalgia get in the way of my point, though. I really value the opportunities that I've been given to serve the association. When you really look at it, NAAE and our state associations do really good work, and there's a lot of work to be done. No matter where you are in your career, I would encourage you to take a stab at serving in a role.
States, sections, and districts always have things that need to be done. Nationally, we are always looking for good people to serve on committees. There's truly something in which each and every one of us can excel.
Friends, it's been an honor to serve you. Thank you for putting your trust in me. May the end of your semester and your holiday season be filled with blessings!
National Teach Ag Day was a wonderful celebration! Now that the excitement has passed, it's time to remember that recruiting and retaining the next generation professionals in agriculture education is a task that requires year-round commitment. NAAE is at the forefront of this effort.
Not only do we have the National TeachAg Campaign, but the resources that the association offers are magnetic to talent. Teachers can obtain top quality professional development and opportunities for professional advancement through the Lead and Master Teacher program. The Award and professional development cohort programs that NAAE offers also provide value for our members.
However, the best resource that NAAE offers is the ability to network with other professionals just like you. I've found that the professional relationships that the association facilitates are one of the most valuable recruitment and retention tools that we have. You have power, through your relationships, to recruit outstanding new talent to the profession. Furthermore, your encouragement can make the difference in retaining educators.
Its up to all of us to make every day Teach Ag Day!
Lexington, Ky. – The board of directors of the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) is pleased to announce that Alissa F. Smith of Nicholasville, Ky. has been hired as NAAE Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Her assignment in this capacity will begin October 1, 2020.
In this assignment, Smith will lead this not-for-profit education-related professional membership association, which serves agricultural education professionals throughout the United States and its territories. In partnership with the NAAE board of directors, Smith will be responsible for the short- and long-term success of the organization by overseeing the leadership and management of the organization. Smith will work with the board of directors and staff to assure NAAE’s relevance to school-based agricultural education and NAAE members, the accomplishment of organization’s mission, vision and strategic plan, and the accountability of the organization to its members.
“I am excited to take on this new challenge in leading NAAE,” stated Smith. “I look forward to staying on course with the great programs and services that we have provided over the years and expanding programming to be responsive to needs of our members and agricultural educators at all levels as we continue to grow NAAE and the agricultural education profession.”
For the past 14 years, Smith has been the associate executive director of NAAE where she is the primary driving force behind the development of programming to support the recruitment, retention, and recognition of agricultural educators in all stages of their careers. In addition to her work at NAAE, Smith is an accomplished textbook and workbook author and she has served as a university resource teacher for agricultural education student teachers for the University of Kentucky. Prior to joining the NAAE staff, she taught agriculture for five and one-half years in the Jessamine County School District in Ky.
Parker Bane, NAAE President and agriculture teacher at Normal Community West High School in Normal, Ill., said, “We are most fortunate to have Alissa Smith in this new role with our organization. Alissa is respected and valued highly by our members as well as our external sponsors and partners. She will continue and expand our mission of providing outstanding professional development for agricultural educators, advocacy for the agricultural education profession, and recruitment and retention of agricultural educators. In addition, she will keep our organization on a sound financial footing.”
Smith received the Honorary American FFA Degree from the National FFA Organization in 2019; the DuPont George Washington Carver Teacher Mentor Award in 2015, and the American Cancer Society Mid-South Community Volunteer Award in 2010-11.
Smith replaces Dr. Wm. Jay Jackman who has chosen to vacate the position after almost 25 years in this capacity. Smith and Jackman will overlap as NAAE chief executives through December.
The National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) is the national professional association for school-based agricultural educators. NAAE is ... “Professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.” There are over 9,000 NAAE members nationwide who are agriculture teachers/instructors in middle schools, secondary schools, and postsecondary institutions, agricultural education faculty in colleges and universities, statewide coordinators of agricultural education, college/university agricultural education students, and others who support the school-based agricultural education profession.
Nothing is as it once was. Across the nation, agriculture teachers are wearing masks and shields. Students are sitting in a classroom, spaced 6 feet apart. Fundraising efforts are on hold. Events and contests are being conducted virtually. Teachers are teaching completely virtually. Students are alternating days of attendance. Lab supplies cannot be shared. We are teaching in a new era.
And, with all of the changes we are experiencing in our own schools, in our own classrooms, there are changes at the national level as well. For the first time ever, the NAAE Convention will be completely virtual—A New Era.
This significant change brings forth significant opportunity for our members, as well. Attendees to the convention will not have to travel, will not have the expense of room and board in a new city, will not have to coordinate a week out of the classroom. But instead, attendees will have flexible access to EVERY professional development workshop being offered by NAAE and ACTE. In addition, attendees will be able to collaborate and catch up with others across the nation in the virtual networking suites.
Plan to join us for the Virtual NAAE Convention and ACTE Vision Conference being held November 30th through December 4th. We are so excited for the new format and the opportunities being shared with agricultural educators from coast to coast, and beyond. Award winners will still be recognized. Delegate business will still be conducted. An election for the next leader of the National Association of Agricultural Educators will still be held. The show will go on, but it will certainly look different in this new era of education.
With the announcement of ACTE CareerTech Vision becoming the Virtual Vision, NAAE has also made the decision to go virtual in 2020. We value the health and safety of our members and look to provide a new way for them to engage and earn professional development from their own classrooms, in their homes, or wherever they may be. With all of the uncertainties in our world today, one thing is still guaranteed…NAAE Convention will be the best professional development conference for ag educators this year!
One of the greatest additions to this year’s convention will be the opportunity for NAAE members to have access to the content for 365 days after the convention. “In our traditional in-person event, you would only be able to attend one professional development workshop per time slot. With our virtual format, all sessions and workshops will be recorded and available on-demand for a whole year giving our members the opportunity to attend sessions at their own pace. That’s just not available in an in-person format,” said Alissa Smith, NAAE Associate Executive Director.
Another great component of the new virtual format will the NAAE Networking Lounge. This will provide a space for ag educators to network and meet-up. We know our members value the opportunity to swap stories and resources so this space will provide a great area for those conversations.
With the change to virtual, we are still in the planning phases. However, you can find the most up-to-date information about registration, schedule, and all things convention on our website at https://www.naae.org/convention2020/index.cfm.