It isn't always clear what we want to do later in life, but sometimes we're presented with an opportunity that helps set our path. For Bethany Markway, the National Teach Ag Campaign helped do just that.
Before getting involved in agriculture in high school, Bethany knew she wanted to be a teacher, but teaching agriculture never crossed her mind. As she became more involved in FFA, she saw firsthand how her own agriculture teacher impacted the lives of his students, and the spark to pursue a career in agricultural education was born.
By the time she started college at Missouri State University in Springfield, Bethany's perception of agriculture had completely changed. Before high school, she was not interested in being active in agricultural industry. Starting college, she knew she wanted to make an impact through agriculture in some way. She continued her FFA involvement through MSU's collegiate chapter, and also got involved in Agriculture Future of America, another agriculture leadership organization.
At an AFA conference, Bethany was introduced to the National Teach Ag Campaign, and was eventually selected to participate in the Teach Ag in D.C. program. This program paired Bethany with a mentor teacher and together they developed an agriculture lesson that she later presented at a Washington, D.C. school. Aaron Geiman, Bethany's mentor teacher shared his passion for agricultural education was evident and showed Bethany how a passionate teacher can impact the classroom. He also introduced Bethany to the CASE curriculum and helped her look at lesson plans and curriculum from a new perspective.
"He stressed the importance of hands on learning and I try to implement that model in every one of my lessons. He showed me different ways to look at lesson plans that I would have never thought of," she said.
After her experience with the Teach Ag in D.C. program, Bethany was selected to serve as a Teach Ag Ambassador during the 2012 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. As an ambassador, Bethany developed and presented an agriculture literacy lesson to middle school students in Indianapolis, talked with students who visited the Teach Ag booth at the career show about considering a career as an agricultural educator, and helped conduct student workshops about teaching agriculture.
As she prepares to teach agriculture this fall at the Technology and Career Center in Lebanon, Mo., Bethany contributes her excitement to her positive experience with the National Teach Ag Campaign.
"The Teach Ag programs were life changing for me. It was the best experience I have had," she said. Even though the school year hasn't started yet, she's already taken students to FFA camp, and is working to get her curriculum in place. The skills and experiences Bethany picked up through her involvement with the National Teach Ag program have helped give her ideas for setting the direction of her agriculture program and being an effective agriculture teacher.
"I see so much potential in these students; it makes me so excited for the upcoming year." she said. I would recommend the Teach Ag programs to anyone and everyone. If educators can make an impact on someone's life, then that person will be motivated to go and impact someone else's life. That is what ag teachers do every day."
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