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Kohn_Mr._558.jpgGrowing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, young Craig Kohn had no intention of ever teaching agriculture. Instead, he wanted to become a doctor. Today, Kohn has just completed his sixth year teaching agricultural education at Waterford Union High School, and is completely devoted to his job and making his program better every year.


On his path to becoming a medical doctor, Kohn found himself wanting to change students' mindsets on learning and the world around them, and decided that the formative teenage years were the best time to do it. That changed his path from medicine to education. Once he was in the classroom, seeing his agriculture students struggle with basic science and its application in agriculture led him to the goal of creating an agriscience program high in rigor that was relevant to his learners.


Waterford High School has a mix of students, ranging from those with no agriculture background to students whose families are still actively involved in food and fiber production. This diverse mix challenged Kohn to create curriculum that was relevant by using real-world scenarios, technology, and STEM concepts. His goal is to develop productive citizens with the ability to apply skills to real-world situations and use critical thinking and problem solving, no matter their agriculture background or academic ability level.


"Being able to see growth, maturation, and change in students is my favorite part of teaching," Kohn said. "It is so important that students have good teachers in their lives."


Every student in Kohn's program at Waterford has a supervised agriculture experience project. He has implemented livestock care teams, summer courses and programs, and weekly lab night research opportunities in order to meet every student's needs. Thanks to the many opportunities he creates, the Waterford FFA program has more than doubled since Kohn began teaching there. In additional to many local, state, and national awards for various FFA teams, Kohn has been awarded the prestigious Tapestry Grant from the National Science Teachers Association to fund a biofuels project being conducted by a group of students. Kohn encourages FFA alumni and industry partnerships to enhance his program by offering job connections, donating money to support new programs, and assisting in the creation of updated curriculum. These partnerships allow Kohn to adapt curriculum and projects to meet the need of industries and companies working in the agricultural field. In addition, this allows him to elevate the rigor of his courses to help students prepare for college.


Kohn has also worked hard to improve his program's facilities over the past six years. He created a fully-functioning student laboratory for agriscience projects, rooms and offices for student fundraising and business skills, a program website, and will have a new hydroponics setup starting this year. Kohn is also in the planning stages of creating a campus barn and livestock facility for students that don't live on acreage but still want to do a livestock SAE. 


Kohn has been selected for the Wisconsin Agriscience Teacher of the Year, Waterford High School Staff Excellence Award, NAAE Outstanding Young Member, and was named a Kohl Fellow by former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl. Kohn also leads professional development workshops at several conferences and conventions annually, has served as a research experience teacher with the U.S. Department of Energy, and serves as a teacher mentor for new teachers in his area.


For Kohn, the challenge of driving his students to excel also prompts him to continually develop his skills as an educator and mentor. It's not just about teaching good material in the classroom, he says, but also about helping students develop life skills and connect that classroom information into their real lives.


Craig Kohn was the NAAE 2013 Region III Outstanding Young Member, which is sponsored by John Deere as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. For more information about NAAE award programs, visit http://www.naae.org/awards/applications/.


IMG_0787.JPGDSCN2817.JPGKohn GLBRC.jpgRees Beguhl brings his show steer into the sale ring.JPG







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CHS Foundation Scholarship Applications

High school and two-year college students are invited to apply for a $1,000 scholarship from the CHS Foundation, the major giving entity of CHS Inc. (NASDAQ: CHSCP), the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company.

The CHS Foundation will award 50 $1,000 high school scholarships to students planning to study an agricultural field at a two or four-year college and 25 $1,000 two-year college scholarships to first-year agricultural students attending a two-year college.

The application deadline for scholarships is March 15, 2014. An independent, external committee will select scholarship recipients based on essays, transcripts and reference letters. For eligibility information and application forms, click here.

For further information, please email Jessie Headrick, or call (651) 355-4918.

 

 

Hello NAAE members. I enjoyed seeing old friends at national conference. It is always the best part of attending regional and national conferences. My NAAE friends are quick to help out when needed, but also will put me in my place when needed. I want to thank the NAAE board, staff, interns, and members for their efforts that made the conference run smoothly. I heard plenty of positive comments and a few suggestions to make it even better in the future. It takes input from all stakeholders to improve what we offer during the conference. I would ask that you thank those sponsors for their support of agricultural education. The NAAE board is always receiving feedback from those sponsors and is amazed at how many comments they make about the thank you notes they receive.


I have a few goals for my year of leadership. The most important goal is to advocate for agricultural education. To do this, I need you to open the doors you know and have your local and state leader's attention. I can take the message of agricultural education and the NAAE to the national stage but it is not as well received without your input. It will take all of our efforts to have an effective advocacy agenda. Goal two: Continue our efforts to align the NAAE's efforts with the new strategic plan. The strategic plan outlines ways to enhance membership benefits, promote agriculture education, and develop better relationships with other agricultural education organizations. Goal three: Gather feedback from membership on the board and committee restructure proposal. I believe that the NAAE can become an even greater voice for agricultural education if we have a broader representation from all agricultural education stakeholders. The NAAE standing committees have a major role in implementing the new strategic plan. This will require more time than just a few meetings a year. I know you will give serious thought to both proposals.


As I write this, president-elect Charlie Sappington and I will be attending the National FFA stakeholder meeting and the National Agricultural Education summit at the end of January. It is our charge to represent agricultural educators in both of those arenas. National FFA and NAAE have a great partnership, but must continue to work collaboratively for agricultural education and FFA to achieve our common goals. Recruiting and keeping agriculture teachers, growing and adding quality agricultural education programs, and recognizing student achievement must be a priority . This will in turn grow the National FFA organization and agricultural education. Supervised agriculture experience programs will be the topic at the summit. Defining SAE's to reflect on their true value to agriculture education programs and students will be the major task.


National Policy Seminar is the first week in March. I encourage states to send a representative to help us advocate for agricultural education in Washington D. C.

Please feel free to contact your regional vice presidents,  Charlie (csappington@cumberland.k12.il.us) or myself with questions or concerns. Have a great spring.

 

Kevin Stacy

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