We've all been there -- that moment we got a flat tire on the way to the Slugger museum, when we locked our keys in the school van. What is your most laughable moment from National FFA Convention?
Share your laughable moments with us as part of our Chime In series in News & Views.
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I grew up in Arkansas and attended agricultural classes at Lake Hamilton High School in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The way in which my high school agriculture teacher taught about agricultuer and FFA made me want to be an ag teacher when I went to college. I attended Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas and received my B.S.E. in Agricultural Education. I was the first graduate under the Ag-Ed program at SAU and am proud to represent the university in all activities. SAU was a small college, so it gave all students the opportunity to work in all areas and give a person a well-rounded view of agriculture.
I have been married to my wife, Sheila for 32 years. My wife is a piano teacher and plays the organ in church. We have one son, Logan, who just this fall started college at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas. He is majoring in Business Data Analytics.
In 1981, I started my teaching career at Prescott High School in southwest Arkansas. I am a single-teacher in the department, therefore, I have total control of the success (or failure) of my program. I have been at Prescott for my whole career and have accomplished many goals. My students have had opportunities to accomplish many of their goals, as well, and to go many places that they would never have had the chance to go because of our ag program. All my students are also FFA members because FFA is an intracurricular part of the program and I believe all students should have the opportunities to participate in those parts of the program.
Advocacy - The success of our ag programs rely on our ability to tell our story to an audience that has become disconnected. Most people do not understand the importance of agriculture in their daily lives. We need to develop an advocacy agenda that provides a consistent message from our home communities all the way to the nation's capitol. It is our responsibility to contact these individuals and to tell our story so that they will see how important our programs are to the education in our states as well as the nation.
NAAE works hand-in-hand with the ACTE organization, through their National Policy Seminar each year in Washington D.C. This gives us a yearly opportunity to visit with our legislators at the national level and advocate for our programs.
Agricultural education is, as we all know, a grassroots effort that has to be established at the local level -- from there we can move forward and educate our lawmakers on what we need.
Recruitment and Retention - By providing diverse activities for our students to participate in, we help them find a place to fit in and help them become successful. Yes, our jobs are time consuming and sometimes can become overwhelming, but the end result is very much worthwhile.
The shortage of agriculture teachers will only increase as years come and go. Through the Teach Ag Campaign and other avenues, we need to reach out to potential prospects and show them what being an ag teacher do for them. Also, as ag teachers, we need to reach out to our young teachers in the profession and help them manage their time and programs. Mentoring a new teacher or a young teacher in the profession will keep us excited about our job as well.
Educational Philosophy - I believe in what I do and will do it to the best of my ability. I am first an ag teacher and then a FFA advisor. I see many programs today in our schools that are the opposite of this. All students are entitled to education about agriculture and then the opportunity to participate in FFA activities.
My school is in a rural area and my students need an education in how to repair things around the house and to be taught employability skills. These are things they receive in the agriculture classroom. There is also the opportunity for our students to explore the rest of the world through our FFA programs. Many of my students have not been more than 100 miles from their homes in their lifetime. Through FFA and the activities provided they will have the chance to go places and meet people that will give them an opportunity to succeed. State conventions, Career Development Events, leadership camps, officer retreats, and many other activities give our students a chance to compete and make friends from all over the state and nation.
In closing, I ask for your consideration for President-Elect. I will represent this organization to the best of my ability and provide a strong voice for the future of our organization. Thank you for your time and best of luck in your agriculture and FFA activities this year.
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Biography: Greetings NAAE Members. It would be an honor to serve the NAAE as your next president-elect. I teach at Cherokee High School in Cherokee, AL. I am currently in my fifteenth year of teaching agriculture. I teach agriculture exploration, fundamentals of agriscience, agricultural construction, horticulture, and ag mechanics. I served six years as the Region V Secretary and Region V Vice President. I am married and have an 11 year-old son. My wife's name is Tanya and my son's name is Tyson. I grew up on a family farm in the Florence, AL area, in a community called Greenhill. My family and I currently live in Iuka, MS which is just across the state line from where I teach in Cherokee. I am very thankful for the mentors that have helped me during my 15 years of teaching. During my first year of teaching, I joined NAAE and have become more involved each year. As I look back over my career as an agriculture teacher, I can see how this organization has given me a great perspective for our profession.
Recruitment and Retention: We do what we love and we love what we do! I love my job and I am sure everyone else in this profession does as well. It is very important that during our normal daily duties as agriculture teachers, we find those that can someday fill our shoes in the profession, so that this profession obtains highly-qualified and trained agriculture teachers. I encourage every ag teacher to participate in National Teach Ag Day -- let's talk about what we love! If you have been teaching over 10 years, then it is likely that you will try to hang around for at least 15 more. It is hard enough to fill the open slots as it is, we do not need to add to this deficit. The XLR8 award program is a great way to add a little more fuel to a dwindling fire in education. It is important that we use our resources in education. Go out today and find a potential ag teacher! #teachag
Advocacy: We never know what each day may bring, so we need to be prepared the best way we can. As for our profession, how do we become more prepared to handle different circumstances? As agriculture teachers, along with all other career technical educators, we face a daily battle of having to fight for our programs locally, state-wide, and nationally. Sometimes you have to fight for what is yours! Agricultural education is ours! So how do we fight? Through Advocacy! First of all, advocacy must begin locally! As proud educators, we like to talk about our programs, hear our students talk to other students about our programs, and hear the community talk about our programs. All of this talking is called advocacy! We have to make sure, for the most part, that we advocate for ourselves, and not expect someone else to do it for us. To promote our profession, we definitely need to be advocating to our students as much as possible. We can do this by talking to them about ag education and other agricultural careers. I would also like to encourage all of our NAAE members to advocate for the profession as a whole. Talk the talk of agricultural education to your members of Congress, so they can see the importance of funding what we do as agricultural educators.
Agricultural Education: When an ag teacher is talking with someone in the community and they ask "what is it you do?," the answer is typically, "I am the ag teacher at the school!" Then someone immediately follows with "Oh I see where your kids have done this, or are doing that!" and "They have been winning a lot of FFA awards!" There is no doubt that agriculture and FFA have a positive impact on the community. If there are service projects to do, our programs are usually part of them. Our students' success is provided through our teaching and our leadership. As agricultural educators, we need to focus on the profession as a whole, not just the FFA successes, but the classroom and SAE successes as well. We need to make our programs as rigorous and relevant as possible. We need to always identify ways of incorporating STEM into our agriculture lessons, so we can maintain high levels of academic standards. This is important in every ag curriculum, whether it is agriscience in the classroom, or agricultural mechanics in the shop. For the continuing success of our programs and the impact we make on our students, it is important that we try to incorporate these into the classroom. I believe it will be even more important for us to have strong partnerships with teacher education institutions such as ACTE, National FFA Alumni, National FFA, the department of education in each state, and other agriculture organizations.
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Help Build the House Upon the Rock!
There was an old sow with three little pigs, and as she had not enough room to keep them, she sent them out to seek their fortune. The first that went off met a man with a bundle of straw and said to him, "Please, man, give me that straw to build me a house." The man did, and the little pig built a house with it. The wolf quickly blew the house down.
The second little pig met a man with a bundle of sticks and said, "Please, man, give me that stick to build a house." The man did, and the pig built his house. The wolf quickly blew the house down.
The third little pig met a man with a load of rocks and said, "Please, man, give me those rocks to build a house with." So the man gave him the rocks, and he built his house with them.
The wolf huffed, and he puffed, and he huffed and he puffed, and he puffed and huffed, but he could not get the house down.
I am sure each of you are familiar with James Orchard Halliwell-Phillips' childhood fable of the three pigs. If we were to read the rest of the story, we would discover the pig eventually outsmarts the wolf and eats him for dinner.
Fellow NAAE members, at this year's National Association of Agricultural Educators' Conference, you will be given the opportunity to select who will join our national leadership team as President-Elect. I am humbly asking that you choose to build the future of our association on the rock and select me, Scott Stone.
As we look at my past record, I hope you will see a bright future.
I was born and raised on a dairy farm in central Pennsylvania, where I learned the value of hard work and dedication. After high school, I served the Pennsylvania FFA Association as the Chaplain, while I was pursuing a degree in agricultural education from Penn State University. Following my term of service, I transferred to the University of Missouri, where I received my BS and Master's degrees in Agricultural Education.
In January of 1998, I began teaching at Centralia High School in Centralia, MO, where I still teach today. In 1999, I married my lovely bride, Jeannette, who is a special education instructor at Centralia High School. We have three wonderful children, Zane, 13; Annamaire, 11; and Stetson, 6. Our family resides on our small diversified livestock and hay operation north of Centralia.
Over my 18 years in the classroom, I have been blessed with many opportunities to serve at the local, area, district, and state level. I had the opportunity to serve as secretary, president-elect, and president of the Missouri Vocational Agriculture Teachers' Association. My service allowed me to develop and hone my leadership and communication skills, which will be vital to my continued service to the NAAE. During my tenure at Centralia, I have also had the opportunity to step outside the agricultural education arena and serve on the state board of directors of the Missouri State Teachers' Association (MSTA). This very enriching experience demonstrated to me the unique bond and mission we share as agriculture teachers that is not always enjoyed in other subject areas.
My peers have selected me as the recipient of numerous awards, including Centralia High School Teacher of the Year, Northeast MSTA Teacher of the Year, MO Vocational Agriculture Teacher of the Year, and Region IV NAAE Teacher Mentor. Of all my plaques and awards, I am most proud of being selected to serve as a cooperating teacher for five student teachers and as a mentor for 12 first and second year agriculture instructors.
During my teaching career, I have learned that fads and trends will come and go in education. New administrators, senators, representatives, governors and national legislators help to swing the education pendulum from side to side on a regular basis. With that thought in mind, the challenges we will face in agricultural education will most likely change over the next two years, on the national level, and each state will have the opportunity to meet its individual demands head-on.
Therefore, the basic fundamentals of my service will be LEADERSHIP, PRIDE, and EXCELLENCE. If our organization will focus on developing teachers as leaders in our profession at the local, state, and national level, we will be equipped to deal with every situation that arises, from funding issues to statewide teacher assessments. If each of us, in agricultural education, has a deep-rooted pride in our profession, we will advocate for our students, programs, and the three-circle model. This pride will become contagious and, in turn, we will not have a shortage of qualified agriculture teachers. Finally, if we demand excellence of ourselves and our students in everything we do, the test scores, contract lengths, and teacher evaluations will take care of themselves.
In conclusion, I would like to thank you for carefully considering my qualifications to serve as your president-elect. I feel my experiences in and out of the classroom have prepared me to effectively serve our organization in this capacity. My focus will be on leadership, pride, and excellence in our profession. As you cast your vote for the next member of the NAAE leadership team, I would ask you to help build a rock-solid foundation for our organization and vote for Scott Stone.
Thank you for your time and have a great school year.
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New Richmond High School, New Richmond, WI
2014 NAAE Region III Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award Recipient
When Rachel Sauvola, agriculture teacher at New Richmond High School, in New Richmond, Wisconsin, had the opportunity to design ag classroom facilities for her new high school, she took the opportunity to expand the agriscience offerings in her program as well.
Five years ago, a referendum was passed to develop new schools in Sauvola's district, including a new high school. Sauvola was able to design the new agriculture department facilities as she wanted them, allowing her to "cash in" all of the ideas she had gained throughout her career for amping up the science content in her classes. The new facilities include a larger greenhouse than she previously had, an aquaculture lab with three 800-gallon tanks, and an animal learning center. Sauvola's goal with the new design was to showcase science and non-traditional facets of agriculture, since her community is being urbanized.
With her new facilities, Sauvola is able to offer her students innovative experiential learning opportunities. Most notable is the addition of three new courses to her program -- food science, veterinary science, and advanced fish and wildlife. These courses offer students the opportunity to experience science in a hands-on way every single day.
"It's my job to market the program to the students so that they can see this is the place that will help them become wiser consumers who are ready to make hard and fast decisions now and in the future," said Sauvola.
Her food science students conduct scientific experiments as they monitor growth on the plants they will use as part of their final projects -- preparing a recipe with ingredients they have grown themselves. Students in Sauvola's advanced fish and wildlife students test water quality in the aquaculture tanks. The students in her large animal science class work in the animal learning center to conduct feed studies and make management decisions based on best practices. All of her students are directly involved in science-based agriculture every day they are in her classroom.
Sauvola also allows her students to turn in their assignments in any form that fits their learning style, as a means to embrace their interests and strengths. From chicken anatomy rap songs to puppet shows about pollution, Sauvola wants her students to view her classes as valuable and interesting, as well as applicable to their daily lives.
However, not all of Savoula's innovative approaches can be attributed to the new facilities. Many student experiences and responsibilities are a direct result of Sauvola's severe allergies to plants and animals.
"I rely on my greenhouse, aquaculture lab, and animal learning center managers to assist me and their peers with the daily undertakings of our facilities," said Sauvola. "Students recognize and appreciate their leadership roles and are proud of their contributions to the program."
Incorporating science in the agriculture classroom can seem like a daunting task. However, with the right tools and resources, it can transform an agriculture program into a hands-on learning community for students to experience science and apply it to their daily lives. Putting the responsibility for learning into the hands of the students takes that opportunity to the next level. Not everyone is given the opportunity to design their own new facilities, but everyone can build a new program by laying a foundation for agriscience education.
The National Agriscience Teacher of the Year award recognizes teachers who have inspired and enlightened their students through engaging and interactive lessons in the science of agriculture. This program is sponsored by PotashCorp as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
To see the other 2014 National Agriscience Teacher of the Year award recipients, click here.
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Have you ever been in a rut in your classroom? Have you taught the same thing so many years in a row, that it becomes repetitious -- like a recording coming out of your brain? In reality that works for teachers in math, english and science but not for us aggies. With most of the other subjects taught in our schools, little changes from year to year, but agriculture is changing every day. We, as agricultural education professionals, are charged with the duty of keeping up-to-date not only with new technologies that come at us from every direction, but also new teaching strategies to help our students be successful in our classrooms.
Now the challenge comes to get away from our classrooms to take part in professional development -- convincing our administration that during our time away the flow of learning in our classroom is not interrupted. Everyone's administration is different, but I would hope they would be able to see the need for their ag teachers to keep up-to-date with their professional development. If we want to be successful and engaging teachers, we must invest the time at conventions and summer conferences to improve ourselves and teaching curriculum.
One of the biggest opportunities to participate in professional development is each year at NAAE Convention. Teachers can choose from more than 75 different workshops that can help their curriculum in subject areas from agriscience to ag mechanics. Professionals from all over the United States share their time and knowledge to help NAAE members better themselves.
In the end, it us up to us, as individual professionals, to see that we stay current in our classrooms. I must confess that in my latter years of teaching agriculture, I have been frustrated at times with some of my fellow teachers for not enhancing their educational portfolios, so that they may deliver the most challenging and innovative lessons possible. In the words of Iron Mike Ditka, "If you are determined enough and willing to pay the price, you can get it done."
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