Animal Science Instructor - Livestock Judging Coach
Blue Mountain Community College
Region I Vice President
A man’s favorite donkey falls into a deep precipice; He can’t pull it out no matter how hard he tries; he therefore decides to bury it alive. Soil is poured onto the donkey from above. The donkey feels the load, shakes it off, and steps on it; more soil is poured. It shakes it off and steps up. The more the load was poured, the higher it rose; by noon, the donkey was grazing in green pastures. Agricultural education is often facing many problems, whether it be financial, political, or social, but if we can shake off the problems and learn from them we will step up into green pastures!
At this year’s National Association of Agricultural Educators’ Conference in Las Vegas, you will be given the opportunity to select who will join our national leadership team as President-Elect. What is really neat is this year, as it has been in recent years, you will have a choice on who will serve you, and I am seeking your vote to serve agricultural education.
I was born and raised on a livestock operation that raised sheep and cattle in Southwest Oregon. I am a second generation agriculture teacher, which has taught me along with my own experience that teaching agriculture is as much a lifestyle choice as production agriculture is. After high school I served the Oregon FFA Association as State Secretary and moved on to California to pursue a degree in Agricultural Education at California State University at Chico. I came back to Oregon to earn a Master’s in Education at Oregon State University.
In 2002 I started my teaching career at the Sabin Center in the southeast Portland area and created the first small animal curriculum. The following year I moved to Hermiston High School in Northeast Oregon where I taught until 2007. Hermiston was a dynamic program with tremendous community support. While there the program yielded five FFA state officers, 11 state winning teams, 12 American Degrees, 56 State Degrees and one national officer. In 2007, with a young growing family I moved to teaching at the college level at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon.
Every day I come into my office and look at that plaque on the wall that contains the Ag Teacher Creed, and it reminds me of why I am an agriculture teacher. I believe in American agriculture with my whole heart and know that if it is to stay,
EDUCATION is the key! However we are facing a major agriculture teacher shortage across the United States and I believe teacher recruitment and retention are the challenges we must find a solution for.
We live in an age that is very liberal arts minded, however an economic downturn always puts that into perspective. Agriculture over the past five years is yearning for highly skilled employees, and are willing to pay tremendous wages to individuals that have these technical skills. CTE is in a tremendous position, because we have always provided education for these skills and try to move forward with advancements in technology. Partnerships, both financially and educationally between CTE programs and employers must be promoted and cultivated.
In closing, I would like to say that NAAE has been absolutely the best thing that has happened to me in my teaching experience. I believe this organization serves its members well in career/professional development and member support, and above all the unity it provides agriculture teachers—I always see going to Conference as not something I have to do for my job, but a chance to reconnect with my family!
Thank you for your support and time. Nick Nelson