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.
Recently, those of us in education have undergone quite a bit of excitement. I know that we have all been through a lot over the past few months, but recently, many of us have been anxiously awaiting.........our schools' reopening plans. From what I can tell by visiting with many of you, our plans are all over the place.
Preparing for the start of a new school year is never easy, but this year teachers will have even more hurdles to leap before school starts in the fall. For those who will return in person, how do you socially distance in a classroom? In many places, masks will be required for everyone whilst in the school, sanitation has never been more important, and activities that were once common place are now potentially hazardous. Meanwhile, for the teachers who will be returning virtually, how do you make sure that your students are receiving the education they need? How do you virtually go to the green house, or the barn, or do labs in the ‘classroom’?
As different as this school year will be, many of our teachers have developed new and creative ways of instructing their students. From virtual field trips to “meet the teacher” postcards, Ag teachers everywhere are finding new methods of reaching their students and making the 2020-21 school year a success.
In Center-Stanton Public School in Center, North Dakota, Nikki Fideldy-Doll has yet to find out where her classroom will be in the Fall. The North Dakota Governor has announced that it will be up to the discretion of the school district and her district is currently “collecting data from staff, parents, and community members to help make the best decision.”
While she is unsure of what her year will look like, that hasn’t stopped her from making plans. One way she plans to connect with students that she may not get to meet face to face is by sending out “meet the teacher” postcards. New students entering the agricultural education program have received a postcard in the mail introducing Nikki as their agriculture teacher. The postcard includes a QR Code for students to scan that will take them to Flipgrid where they will find a recorded video of Nikki answering fun ‘get to know you’ questions.
Besides finding way to connect with new students, Nikki is using some creative online learning techniques she picked up at the end of last school year.
“One way I did SAE visits during the pandemic was through my “Flat Fideldy” project.” Nikki said. “Students in the program received my Bitmoji in the mail and they had to take me on an SAE visit. They took pictures with my Bitmoji and wrote journal entries explaining what they were doing.”
Meanwhile, in Tillamook, Oregon, Brooklyn Bush is hoping to make a return in person. Her school is also on the fence, but she says “I personally would rather be in-person - I think it's easier to build relationships with students and get them excited for their classes. There's always a contagious energy when students return to school.”
One of the ways Brooklyn is preparing to go back to school in person is by modifying some of her assignments, especially if they contain group work. She is thinking about lab space and how to accomplish certain labs given the available space and equipment. Most of her current preparation though is focusing on how to make social distancing work in her classroom. Class sizes will be smaller, disinfecting will be even more important, and face masks will be made mandatory. Although she prefers in-person teaching, Brooklyn plans to stay current on online teaching techniques and content strategies for virtual learning just in case that is the route her district decides to go.
With so many teachers facing the unknown this fall it could be easy to feel disheartened, but in the end, Nikki said it best.
“There are so many uncertainties, but one thing I am confident of: if anyone can do it, teachers can.”
For such a time as this.
You may not be familiar with this scripture, but I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about Esther 4:14. The last three months have surely been a whirlwind of a ride. However, I believe there may be some silver linings to this experience.
For years, I have heard our profession express lofty wishes. We wish communities and schools would see the educational value we provide to all students. We wish there was a way to reach more students in more schools. We wish there was a way to reduce the burnout on our teachers and colleagues. Well, maybe Agriculture Education is the key for such a time as this!
I can’t help but think we are on the brink of an amazing outcome. We have been given a platform to really showcase our strengths as a profession and our value in schools and communities. We have been given a bit of a break from the hustle and bustle of Ag Ed. We have been forced to deliver agriculture education through new platforms and with strategic variety. Coincidence? I think not.
As NAAE looks to progress forward through the coming months, may we all take the time we have been given to rejuvenate our passion and energy for agriculture education. Use this summer to brainstorm what agriculture education could look like moving forward, knowing that the fall return to school will likely look much different than today!
Think outside the box. Collaborate across the country. Reach out to distant colleagues. Check on students, current and past. Spend more time with family and loved ones. Support your schools and communities. Stress the essentials of life—food, fiber and fuel. Reconnect with what is important to you.
Agriculture educators, what if we were made for such a time as this?
Footnote: Check out the following NAAE initiatives...
1. NAAE Virtual Book Study
2. Virtual CASE Institutes
3. Regional and State Association Meetings
4. Strategic Planning Survey
I would have never thought that in my teaching career, I would see a situation like we are in right now. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that in teaching, you have to be prepared for anything!
I hope this message finds you safe and well. I know that covid-19 is affecting each of our communities differently, and our governments are responding in different ways. Many of you haven't been in the same room with your students since March, while a few of you have started back with students this week.
I certainly have a lot to learn, but here are some observations I've made:
Be safe and well. Take care, and don't forget to share your own successes!
From Sherisa Nailor:
Happy spring! Four short months ago, I stood before those in attendance at the NAAE Convention and challenged our organization and profession to change the status quo. Little did I know just how timely and real that message would be to educators across the country.
Our task as educators certainly has a different look than it did two weeks ago. And, among the hustle and bustle of navigating new instructional methods, we are also tasked with managing student leaders from a distance, making contingency plans for events and competitions, and assuring our students and members that we will persevere and survive this unprecedented time. The key for them, as it is for us, is to work together! #NAAEBetterTogether
If you have not had a chance to engage with agricultural educators across the nation who are facing the same struggles as you, I hope that you will find that connection this week. If you are in need of materials, lesson ideas, and resources for delivering instruction virtually, check out Communities of Practice, Ag Ed Discussion Lab, or follow NAAE on FaceBook and Twitter. In times like this, more than even before, we need each other as sounding boards and a support system. #NAAEBetterTogether
My hope for you in the coming months is that you find time to connect in a way like never before. Use this time to engage in some self-care, try a new lesson format or activity, challenge your students to discover their own learning, finesse a hobby, finish reading that book, spend quality time with family. Sometimes the world has a funny way of making us all slow down and appreciate life for what it is. #NAAEBetterTogether
In times like these, great organizations need leaders, but we also need an engaged tribe who is willing to challenge the status quo at the grassroots level, and lead the charge for change and innovation. Reach out to your colleagues, even if just to share in common struggles. Your NAAE leadership team is here for you and whatever you need, just reach out. We are all in this together, #NAAEBetterTogether.
Congratulations to the 2019 NAAE Award Winners! In December, NAAE gathered in Anaheim, California to celebrate a dedication to agricultural education, professional development and the achievements of professionals across the country. From learning new lessons from our innovative Ideas Unlimited winners to honoring the careers of our Lifetime Achievement Award Winners, the 2019 NAAE Convention was jam packed with energy and excitement! Other highlights from the 2019 NAAE Convention include hearing from ACTE leaders, learning more about inclusion and diversity from Dr. Roger Cleveland and hearing from Mark Poeschl, National FFA CEO.
We’d also like to thank our award sponsors for their dedication and commitment to agriculture education and for their continued support. Award sponsors include RAM Trucks, Caterpillar Inc., Tractor Supply Company, John Deere and Bayer.
Since 2013, Culver's Thank You Farmers Project has donated over $2.5 million to support agricultural education programs. When guests come to Culver's, they're helping support agricultural education and FFA around the country. Watch this video to learn how the Waupun FFA Chapter is building tomorrow's leaders and innovators with support from Culver's.
By Eric Tilleman
Well it’s 2020 and most of us have been rolling through semester tests or have started a new semester with new students. Maybe new classes and the realization of the mountain of work you will have over the next couple of months. I know I have started to see the mound of applications from my students keep rising from proficiency applications, state degrees, CDE/LDE papers and just the day to day school work and wonder how we can keep the sanity as a teacher. A few years ago, my mom saw I was getting frustrated and she sent me a cartoon in the mail. It had a dragon picking it’s teeth with the lance of a knight and it said “Remember… No Matter How Hard you work… No matter How right you are… Sometimes the Dragon Wins.” It made me laugh and take a good look at what I could do to mitigate my work load. I am one who is always looking at ways to help improve my teaching method or to find ways to make the ag profession easier for people.
One tool I have found to help me is the tools on Communities of Practice (CoP) where each of the regions have their upcoming information on regional meetings. I know for me the regional meetings as well as NAAE conventions help to rejuvenate my teachers’ batteries with new ideas, cutting edge lessons, beneficial collaboration and renewed love of teaching.
Please take time to be a driving force in the NAAE by volunteering to serve on a committee and take a look at the links to the 7 committees on CoP. Then you can see what the committees will be discussing at the winter virtual meetings and even when their meetings are happening over the next couple of weeks. We are a grassroots organization and the committees play a vital role in the development of our organization. Lastly, there are many lesson plans, worksheets and teacher tips and tricks to help blaze though the second semester. I know I like to add new lessons to each class to make sure I never fall into a rut as a teacher.
As we are taking time to help our students with their applications, I hope you can take time to explore the ag teachers’ programs offered by the NAAE on our website. Many times, we don’t make an effort to get recognition for ourselves for what we have accomplished. Many of you have great ideas or lesson which are awesome but never apply for the Ideas Unlimited award. Please take time and look at those awards on the website under “Member,” and while you are there look at what benefits you are getting for your membership such as Liability Insurance, Hotel Discounts, Discounted home/auto Insurance and more.
Sometimes the Dragon wins, but he doesn’t have to if we take time for ourselves and look at the tools at our disposal. Have a great Spring!!!
Welcome to a New Year! I want to thank you for your continued engagement in NAAE and wish for many blessings to come your way personally and professionally.
For those of you that I haven't been able to meet, yet, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. I live in Towanda, Illinois with my wife, Angie (who is an amazing ag teacher) and our daughter, Ella. We love spending time with our Golden Retriever, Luigi and our small, but growing herd of show cattle. In fact, we are awaiting the birth of a calf as I write this message. I am finishing 17 years of teaching at Pontiac Township High School.
NAAE has been a significant blessing in my life, and I hope that you can say the same. It is my goal that the association continues to provide and expand its high quality member services, professional development programs, and advocacy efforts. We need your participation to make that happen!
Soon, we will be starting virtual committee meetings, which are a great place to be involved. We will also be opening up our award applications and registration for professional development programs. Especially on the award programs, be watching for your State's particular due dates. Many states request completed applications by March or early April. CASE institute registrations have been open since December 1st!
We also have some exciting new plans for the new year. Stay tuned!
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions or need help with anything!