Who are you? Are you a mother? A son? Do you coach little league? Do you hop on a bus at the sound of the dismissal bell and take students home for the day? Do you sit on the local Farm Bureau board? Help judge the local dairy contest?
Who are you? You are more than just the ag teacher.
Agriculture teachers do more than write lesson plans and teach from bell to bell. Agriculture teachers are involved in their students' lives, their communities, and their education associations. And as much (or perhaps even more) as in any other profession, agriculture teachers find a way to bring their personal passions into their work, making both stronger.
One of agriculture teacher Paul Larson's passions is showing decision-makers and legislators the power of agricultural education, in order to grow the profession as a whole. Larson began his teaching career at Freedom High School, in Freedom, Wisconsin in 1987. With a diminishing agriculture program of only 50 students, Larson took it upon himself to update the program, advocate for agricultural education, and ultimately become a pillar of his professional and local community.
"'Learning Together for Lifelong Success' has been a motto of our school since I first arrived in Freedom," said Larson. "This motto embodies my beliefs and philosophies for education."
His lifelong learner outlook has fueled Larson's involvement in advocacy for the agricultural education profession, including his willingness to serve in numerous leadership positions with the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators, NAAE, and The National Council for Agricultural Education.
Currently he is serving as the chairman of The National Council for Agricultural Education Advocacy committee and as the chairman of the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Foundation.
Larson's passion for advocacy has led him to teach other agricultural educators how to advocate for their own programs. Because of this, he has provided advocacy workshops at local, state and national conferences. In addition, he led the effort to draft legislation in Wisconsin to create the Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council in 2007. This group's mission is to attract, develop and retain the premium workforce required to grow Wisconsin's agriculture industry, food, and natural resource systems.
Leaders like Larson are what keeps agricultural education thriving. Agriculture teachers who are willing and able to go above and beyond their duties as classroom instructors to provide their students and colleagues with the best tools and knowledge available are the heart of our profession. They keep the blood pumping in our organizations.
So who are you? YOU are more than just the ag teacher!
For more information about the Wisconsin Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council click here.
Paul Larson was selected as the 2015 NAAE Region III Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher. For more information about this award and to see a full listing of all the award recipients, click here. The Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher Award is sponsored by Caterpillar, Inc. and Tractor Supply Company as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
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