My wife and I live on the family farm where I was born and raised. My wife of 26 years, who is always there to support me, also teaches at Cumberland High School, teaching students who learn differently. Our oldest son Coleman, and his wife Shelby, live in Carlyle, IL, and he is a second year agricultural educator at Odin High School in Southern Illinois. Our younger son, Jacob, is a junior at Eastern Illinois University, majoring in business and economics. We raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa, sheep, llamas, and dairy goats on our Cumberland County farm.
My educational journey started with receiving my bachelor's of science degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and then achieving my master's of science in 1988, also from SIU-C. I taught high school agricultural sciences and mechanics at Clay City High School for four years, and then relocated back to my home school, Cumberland High School, where I am in my 31st year of teaching. I served as Section 20 chairman 12 years, district director, and was the Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers President in 2007-2008. I was honored to serve as the Region IV Vice President of NAAE 2009-2012.
Agricultural Education and the FFA
We have so many opportunities to guide and educate our students and help them find their career path in life. I believe that diversity of instruction is the key to maintaining a high quality program that will draw students in and keep them coming back. The concept of inquiry based learning integrated in all courses, whether it is an agriculture science class or an agriculture mechanics shop class, is essential. Incorporating STEM into our lessons helps us maintain the high level of academic standards that all education classes should strive to have in their course offerings. Using the Three Circle Model, we can assist our students in succeeding in life with the integration of SAE's, classroom instruction, and FFA activities. I believe that FFA CDE's provide an excellent opportunity for students to find success and find an agricultural career area that they will thrive in for years. If we can open the door for our students and show them how to succeed, they will become productive assets in our community. Success breeds success.
Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Membership in the NAAE
The recruitment and retention of teachers is being addressed by the Teach Ag Campaign to find quality candidates who are in it for the long haul. We as agricultural educators need to always be inviting students into our programs that we believe could contribute to the future of agricultural education. However, we are still losing teachers due to burn out and to industries that lure high quality teachers away from teaching. The NAAE board needs to continue to work with state leaders in retention of young members in several ways. NAAE could provide mentoring of young members and assisting them in finding success in teaching as well as with their professional growth. Connected to this interaction, we as NAAE members need to address the fact that many first year teachers do not see the advantages and benefits of being a member of our great organization.The NAAE board needs to work with state leaders in developing a program where first year teachers are shown the benefits of being a member of the NAAE. This program can demonstrate to them the growth they can achieve in their teaching experience and provide them protection with liability coverage.
For me, advocacy starts at the local level where we can share our mission with our local administration, our students' parents, and the general public that need to see what we do, not only with the FFA. but what we are doing in our classrooms to educate our youth about the career opportunities in agriculture. However, it cannot stop there. Communicating with our state and federal elected officials is crucial and relaying our story on a regular basis will give our students and programs an identity that will be remembered as our officials make decisions that will affect our profession, our teachers, and our students. This all sounds simple, but a few voices will not influence them as much as hundreds of communications from NAAE members would if we contacted our legislators each month. My goal is to make it easier for members to contact their elected officials and help them tell their story of how Perkins funding has benefited their programs and students, and why the Perkins Act should continue to be funded.
I believe that it is each member's duty to serve as a leader-- not only to their students, but also to their peers in the ag education profession. I would be honored to serve all NAAE members as the 2013 - 2014 NAAE President Elect.
Cumberland High School Cell (217) 259-9390
1496 IL Rte. 121 Work (217) 923-3133
Toledo, IL 62468 Home (217) 849-3440