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This is an article from the February 2017 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.


Oftentimes we overlook the importance of professional development and make excuses to not attend or try to rationalize the relevance. I will admit that I have attended some workshops in the past that didn't live up to their title, however I try to make the most of the situation and find the silver lining. I understand that it is really hard to meet the needs of every ag teacher that may be attending due to the variety of agricultural curriculum.  Below I have made a list of the" Five W's" which should make professional development relevant to anyone teaching agriculture, at any level.


What:  You have to admit that professional development in agricultural education is unlike any other teacher organizations'. If you have attended one of these it is hard to compare the quality of theirs to ours! NAAE and the state and local levels of ag teacher associations do a great job of focusing on the teacher. We are idea sharers -- ag teachers don't reinvent the wheel, but are invested in sharing with each other and enhancing cooperation. If you are a post-secondary instructor, you also need to look at what professional development from NAAE can do for you -- if nothing else it is a tremendous recruitment opportunity for your program.


Who:  The best workshops I have ever attended have been led by ag teachers. Sometimes a business entity comes in and does a great job of letting us know the newest and greatest gadgets out there, but there is no question that ag teachers present the best to other ag teachers. NAAE does a tremendous job of using its members to offer professional development. I encourage you to look into the professional development offered in CASE, NAAE Regional and National Conferences, Teach Ag Campaign and National Agriscience Teachers Ambassadors.


Why:  Here is the most important reason. Professional development is for you and your students -- nothing else matters. We need to constantly improve ourselves for the betterment of our classroom and the advancement of our students. Agriculture is an ever-changing Industry, so our curriculum must be as well!


When:  Region I Conference--April 25-28, Sheridan, WY       

            Region II Conference--June 19-22, Oklahoma City, OK         

            Region III Conference--June 19-2, Wahpeton, ND     

            Region IV Conference--June 27-29, Lafayette, IN   

            Region V Conference--June 26-29, Athens, GA

            Region VI Conference--June 25-28, Portsmouth, NH


Wow:  As I am sitting here writing this blog, I am watching the snow come down again which makes me think how difficult traveling can be. I always worry when I have to leave my home, family and livestock because I realize the burden it puts on all of us when we leave home, but in the same token, I am reminded of the "Wow" factor that the last professional development that I attended gave me. I absolutely love the comradery that I get from meeting new ag teachers and learning new things that I can bring back to my students that have enhanced myself and my program. Do not miss out on the "Wow"!


NAAE/Staff Update:


Five of the seven NAAE committees have met and discussed business that will either be brought to the NAAE board meeting in March or to regional conferences. I am very impressed with the how these meetings are focused on improving NAAE. I do believe this new committee process is working, but the major difficulty is making sure every region has members on the committees, so action can happen. Regional leaders, be sure to check in with the committee pages on CoP and see if your region is missing members.


Contact Julie Fritsch if you are interested in having a Communities of Practice workshop at your state or regional conference. The workshop would cover setting up your Communities of Practice profile, using the mobile app, and general Communities of Practice information.


Please explain the value of ACTE and the role that NAAE membership has with ACTE at your state and regional conferences. Here is a link for a video of Dr. Jay Jackman talking about the importance of ACTE involvement. Please share with your states and regions:  Jay Jackman - The Value of ACTE Membership - YouTube.


A Message from our Partners as part of News & Views:


Friday Notes is designed to enhance communication among various agricultural sectors, educators, students, and the public who are interested in a variety of plant, animal, food, and environmental issues. Friday Notes advocates the pursuit of credible, unbiased, science-based information. Material contained in linked articles is from the original authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the CAST organization.

In This Issue...... Click to Read
Agriculture, Students, and Resources: P. 2
Animal Agriculture News
Food Science and Safety News
Plant and Environment News
International News
General Interest News
Surfing the Northern Lights


surfing northern lights_
This adventure photographer couldn't pass up the opportunity to film surfers in frigid waves under the northern lights.


Resource Material

For classroom use and other school purposes, CAST offers a broad spectrum of free publications in areas of animal and plant sciences, food science and safety, the environment, biotech, and more.

Note: one-page summaries of the full papers called Ag quickCASTS can be used as class handouts, and some translated versions are also available.



  Food Symposium



The Global Food Security Symposium 2017 will showcase the best of business, social, and policy innovation--March 29-30 in Washington, D.C.




Kentucky Horses  



The University of Kentucky Ag Equine Programs will host the 6th Annual UK Equine Showcase and the 8th Annual Kentucky Breeders' Short Course Jan. 27-28.  


Art, Ag, and STEM

These students add art and agriculture to the STEM trend--with plans to work all these pursuits into the curriculum.



Water Lectures   


At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, seven free public lectures will delve into aspects of "the right water for the right use at the right time"--January 18.  


   CAST Social Media

   Click here for links to CAST sites: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest,   LinkedIn, videos, and blogs.  


January 13, 2017


      New Secretary of Ag   


             Coming soon to a government near you            


sec of ag searchBy the time you read this, you might be able to fill in the blank. But as of today, Friday the 13th, no decision has been made. Many  articles and editorials give a flavor of the opinions and nervousness in Ag World as this important position gets filled.


**This article says the delay has some in agriculture concerned.


**Another story explains that U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump met with the chief executives of two agribusiness giants; some gleaned hints about farm issues and the naming of a new Secretary of Agriculture.


**And to keep grounded about the activities involved, check out the list of news releases from the Department of Agriculture in the past few days--from conservation to ethanol to nutrition. 




News and Views



**Upcoming Farm Policy:  As the full slate of members on the House Agriculture Committee comes into focus, the public gets a clearer picture of the panel that will shape the next Farm Bill.


**Farm Bill Summit:  Agri-Pulse plans to launch an in-depth editorial series--"The Seven Things You Should Know Before You Write the Next Farm Bill"--culminating in a Farm Bill Summit at the National Press Club on March 20.
**Gene Editing:  A new generation of crops known as gene-edited rather than genetically modified is coming to the market. Soybeans, potatoes, other plants--and even a cow's horns--have received a snip-snip. Uses and regulations are still in early stages, but this technology has wide potential. 


**Working with the Fundamentals of Life (interview and podcast):  New Yorker writer Michael Specter discusses emerging biotechnologies that will make it possible to remove disease and change the characteristics of life by rewriting the genetic code in cells.


**Touting Precision Ag Practices:  This writer says better allocating farm resources on an acre-by-acre basis is a key way to use modern methods to make a profit.


**Communicating about Ag: At the recent Consumer Electronics Show, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance introduced a new communications concept called Smart Farm--aimed at bridging the gap between the acceptance of innovation that's a part of consumers' everyday lives with the science and technology happening on today's farms and ranches.


   News from the Far Side of the Barn


hei hei chicken_


Hei Hei: actually smart or demonstrably stupid?
Hey, Hey--Is the Moana Chicken Really That Dumb?  According to this article, the world's most common bird is actually quite intelligent.

Horse Play (video): Hard to say--this horse either loves or hates the squeaky chicken toy. Either way, the animal is focused.  


Pregnant Dads (video):  While female seahorses still produce the eggs, they transfer them to males, who fertilize and incubate them in their pouch.




    Agriculture, Students, and Resources       




CAST has a long-standing interest in science and agriculture education, from elementary school through graduate programs. Along with the links posted at the top-left side of page one above, check out the following sites for resource materials and ideas:


** Information from member societies and affiliated organizations has been compiled on the CAST website, and this link provides information about the CAST Education Program.


**This article from the National Education Association says, "There's nothing new about teenagers (or adults for that matter) finding unreliable or just plain false information on the Internet, but fake news--bogus or exaggerated information disguised as reliable journalism--went viral in a big way in 2016. For example, middle school students might believe "sponsored content" is a legitimate news story; high school students might accept a claim in a photo caption without verifying the source; and college students might not notice potential bias in a tweet from a political activist group.


**The Agricultural Education Magazine is a professional journal for agricultural education published under the sponsorship and control of an editing-managing board of professional educators in the field. Major aims of the publication are to unify the forces of agricultural education in the country, to serve as a means of exchanging professional news and views, as a sounding board for new ideas, and as a source of reviews of publications and research in the field. The publication serves teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, teacher educators, supervisors, administrators, and others interested in agricultural education.

**This blogger says content that is more popular normally includes the use of images or video, evokes emotion or curiosity or humor, touches on recent or hot topics, and is easy to consume with short attention spans. He explains how to best deal with "viral material." 


**Use a quick web search to access the relevant websites of quality agriculture and science university programs. We recommend any of the 14 schools who are members of CAST's education program. They all have outstanding departments and research programs. 



Globe (TopLatestNews)

Friday Notes News Categories

Photos courtesy of the Agricultural Research Service (top masthead); TopLatest News (globe at right). P. 1 northern lights pic from and chicken cartoon from Animal Sec. sheep pic from Food Sec. Belushi pic from homevideos.jpg. Plant Sec. Star Trek pic from Inter. Sec. crocodile pic from Gen. Sec. robot pic from robot.jpg. Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Service.    

   Baby Chicks

   Animal Agriculture and Environmental News


According to Hog Farmers:  U.S. pig farmers are already complying with new federal rules for on-farm antibiotic use--this and more information gathered from the National Pork Board's annual survey.

But Lawnmowers Don't Need Shearing:  Sheep work like lawnmowers, making them ideal for tackling noxious weeds invading millions of acres of public and private land.


Top Dairy Stories:  The National Dairy Council offers its top 10 science-based articles about dairy foods and health published during 2016.      


Humane Handling and Food Safety (opinion):  According to this editorial, FSIS takes humane handling seriously, but it takes food safety seriously too, and sometimes it is tough to do both at the same time.


Avian Influenza:  New outbreaks of avian influenza in the past few weeks have been numerous--especially in Europe--according to reports from the World Organization for Animal Health.


Dairy Care:  One way the dairy industry works for excellent animal care is the National FARM Program--Farmers Assuring Responsible Management--developed by the National Milk Producers Federation. 


Jump-start Livestock Careers:  Young people can learn to become cattle managers--with 4-H and FFA associations helping with these projects. 


For the Birds:  Several poultry groups made available an updated economic impact study that highlights the positive impact the poultry industry has on jobs, wages, and federal and state revenue in the United States.


Dairy Concerns:  U.S. dairy groups have raised concern over proposed changes by the National Academy of Sciences in the USDA's WIC (women, infants, and children) feeding program guidelines.


Sustainable Livestock (opinion): According to Jude Capper, the trends for improved productivity and efficiency within global livestock industries are helping to reduce environmental impacts.


Note (related to above):  Dr. Capper was task force chair for CAST Issue Paper #53, Animal Feed vs. Human Food: Challenges and Opportunities in Sustaining Animal Agriculture Toward 2050.

Salmonella (FSIS)

   Food Science and Safety News

Peanuts, Allergies, and Babies (video): New guidelines turn conventional wisdom on its head and proclaim that introducing peanut products early to infants might prevent peanut allergies.



food fight belushi


Still working out his feelings about school nutrition standards.
School Nutrition Trends:  School lunches have long been targets of jokes, and the 2012 Congressionally mandated nutrition standards added to complaints. But some results show the changes may be working

Use It or Lose It:  Some food experts and environmentalists say people are throwing out good food because of "use by" and "sell by" dates. The new phrase? "Best if used by."

Food Trend Predictions:  This survey of top dieticians and nutritionists predicts the top superfoods for 2017--and many are continuations from the past few years.

In Search of the Best Sandwich in Each State:  This site claims to have tracked down the best sandwich in each of the 50 states--from lobster rolls to peppered beef.  


Gee--Why Can't I Pay More?  This study says most consumers tend to believe that healthy foods are more expensive--and they equate cost with taste.  


Less Is More--Food Production:  This University of Florida administrator says food production systems are facing challenges and making more food from less land.



Food Waste Pyramid: The EPA's Food Recovery Hierarchy is a type of "food pyramid" that shows how to take steps to avoid wasting resources. Note: Click here for a diagram of the pyramid (including a Spanish version).


   Plant Agriculture and Environmental News


Soybean Sales (opinion):  This report says that United States soybean export sales are on pace to hit another record again this year, in part due to high demand from China.  



star trek scanner_


Yes, captain, according to my calculations, we need more fertilizer on ten acres of corn in the north forty.

Star Trek Devices on the Farm:  With this digital device, farmers can scan the soil and within minutes receive a readout and fertilizer advice. 

Spray-on RNA to Help Plants?  A spray makes use of microscopic sheets of clay into which RNA is loaded. Some think this technique could be faster and more versatile than developing GMO crops from scratch.

Mapping Out Resistant Weeds: With herbicide resistance intensifying across the U.S., it's important to understand what herbicides work in your area and how you might need to adjust in the future. 


Wheat in the Dry:  This soil scientist is conducting research to show Arizona wheat producers irrigation and fertilizer practices that maximize yield and grain quality


Weed Control through Engineering?  A new research project is trying to prove that robots could destroy weeds better than a farmer driving a sprayer full of herbicide. 


Aphids-R-Us:  The 2016 Yellow Book for Soybean Aphids is available as a free download. It looks at aphid treatment recommendations and application rates based on Iowa State University research.    

Plant Bullets:  In what sounds like a concept for a bad Banksy painting, the Department of Defense has recently put out a call for proposals for manufacturing biodegradable bullets that also contain seeds.    


  World and Plug (SFGate)

  International News  

Unbearable--Bear Bile and Farming (videos in links): This blog includes updates and background information regarding the farming of bears in Asia. 

Eye in the Sky:  The AgriDrone from Japan can pinpoint good grazing areas using video analysis software. It also sends real-time alerts when animals leave a designated area or if a predator approaches. 



Anybody have a toothpick? I have
some feathers in my teeth.
A Load of Croc: These Australians farm crocodiles--and their "livestock" are destined to become luxury handbags, belts, wallets, and shoes at Europe's biggest fashion houses.


Water Works:  The World Bank has developed an interactive knowledge base about photovoltaic water pumping--water systems that help in many villages and small towns in various countries.


Global Pig Farming: This article offers insights into techniques used at various pig farm systems--with a focus on Asia.


More Than the Usual "Chicken of the Sea":  A Japanese sushi chain made a winning bid of $632,000 for a very large bluefin tuna at the opening day of the 2017 session at the famed Tsukiji fish market.   

Tuna and Over Fishing (opinion):  This article looks at the environmental side of tuna fishing--and the scarcity in many once-vibrant fishing areas. 


Jersey Cows in Rwanda:  A new project will help Rwanda's dairy industry by providing thousands of straws of Jersey bull semen to be sent to the African country to help breed more productive animals.


India and the Gene Revolution (opinion):  This farmer says his home country is denying itself a new wave of miracle crops for reasons that have nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics.

Positive Signs in Fight against Ebola? Using a Canadian vaccine, the World Health Organization conducted a large-scale inoculation in Guinea and Sierra Leone to assess how well it protected people against Ebola.


  General Interest News

Farming the Future Panel Discussion (video):  At the 1st Annual Chicago Food Tank Summit in November, the more than 40 speakers included researchers, farmers, chefs, policymakers, and students


Wind Flips Truck (video):  A tractor-trailer truck gave into the sustained winds blowing as high as 100 mph along this Colorado interstate.


The new constant gardener.
Mr. Roboto on the Farm: This year's RoboUniverse event in San Diego included a full day dedicated to the application of robotics to agriculture.  


Sunny Side Up: Cornell University now milks the sun for energy, with three new solar farms that will generate large amounts of electricity and help the campus achieve its carbon neutrality goals.


Challenged by Food and Water Issues:  These MIT engineering students are seeking to solve major food and water security problems.


Children's Ag Book Honored:  The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture presented its 10th "Book of the Year" award to Eugenie Doyle for Sleep Tight Farm


Mailing to SNAP Users:  Amazon and online grocery services will soon accept food stamps.


New Animal Species: Hairy-chested crabs and monstrous slugs are among the six new species of marine animals found living near the hydrothermal vents beneath the Indian Ocean.


Running Clock with Fascinating Stats:  The "world real-time clock" includes statistics dealing with everything from mortality to food to beer production. For example, Earth includes more than 380,000 centenarians. 


CAST Information


YouTubeCheck out CAST's page at the YouTube site to view highly regarded ag-science videos about probiotics, food safety, and water issues--or the latest video dealing with proposed mandatory labeling of GMO food items.


fishing ideas kgtohbuIf you have a good idea for a CAST publication, contact us by clicking HERE for the "Proposal Format and Background Information Form."



CAST provides Friday Notes as a benefit to its members.  Please do not forward, edit, copy, or distribute the Notes in any form to nonmembers without the express permission of the CAST Executive Vice President Kent Schescke ( Instead, please encourage your colleagues to join CAST and thereby become eligible for all membership benefits. Contact Colleen Hamilton at 515-292-2125, ext. 224 or, or CLICK HERE for CAST membership information.


Societies, Companies, and Nonprofit Organizations

Serving on the CAST Board of Representatives



* American Association of Avian Pathologists


* American Association of Bovine Practitioners 

* American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy, & Resources-Agricultural Management   

* American Dairy Science Association 

* American Farm Bureau Federation 

* American Meat Science Association 

* American Meteorological Society, Committee on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology

* American Society for Nutrition Nutritional Sciences Council   

* American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
* American Society of Agronomy 

* American Society of Animal Science  

* American Society of Plant Biologists                                      world supported by plants and animals

* American Veterinary Medical Association

* Aquatic Plant Management Society

* California Dairy Research Foundation                                        

* Council of Entomology Department Administrators  

* Croplife America 

* Crop Science Society of America                                                                      

* DuPont   

* Elanco Animal Health

* Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy                                  

* Monsanto                                                                                    

* National Pork Board

* North Carolina Biotechnology Center      

* North Central Weed Science Society

* Northeastern Weed Science Society                             

* Poultry Science Association                                                   


* Society for In Vitro Biology
* Soil Science Society of America                         


* Syngenta Crop Protection
* The Fertilizer Institute  

* United Soybean Board 

* Weed Science Society of America 

* Western Society of Weed Science

* WinField, a Land O'Lakes Company 


CAST assembles, interprets, and communicates credible, science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.  

Members of CAST's Education Program



* Cal Poly
* Cornell University
* Iowa State University 

* Kansas State University  

* Mississippi State University

* North Carolina State University  

* Texas A&M University College of Ag & Life Sciences  

* The Ohio State University  

* University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

* University of California-Davis   

* University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

* University of Kentucky  

* University of Nebraska Agricultural Research Division                                     

* University of Nevada


Note: WinField Solutions (Land O'Lakes) provides sponsorship for the distribution of

Friday Notes to the National Association of Agricultural Educators.

CAST Logo Jan 2010


Dan Gogerty (Managing Communications Editor) 


The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology

4420 West Lincoln Way

Ames, Iowa  50014-3347

Phone: 515-292-2125, ext. 222; Fax: 515-292-4512; E-mail:


**  With assistance from Carol Gostele (Managing Scientific Editor), Hannah Pagel (Student Administrative Assistant), and Mikayla Dolch (Student Administrative Assistant)  


nps.jpgMarch 13-15
Washington, D.C.


Are you interested in learning the basics of influencing federal decision makers? Are you ready to make a difference in agricultural education at the national level? If your answer is yes, make plans to join us for the 2017 ACTE National Policy Seminar (NPS).


During NPS, you will be given the opportunity to visit our nation’s capital, improve your advocacy skills, meet with Congressional members, and hear from national leaders in career and technical education.


NAAE will pay the registration fee of one NAAE member per state to attend and participate in the NPS, which also includes agricultural education-specific activities especially for NAAE members.

Each participant will be responsible for his/her own travel, lodging, most meals, and incidental costs. We encourage state agricultural education associations to assist with the travel, lodging, and per diem costs.

The NAAE representative registration deadline is Wednesday, February 1.


If you are interested in attending, or to learn more, please visit this page on the NAAE website.

It was an unusually frigid mid-Missouri afternoon. I was feeding the cattle in the big barn when I heard a shrieking scream coming from the chicken coop. Not sure what was going on, I set off at a brisk pace towards the chicken coop. As I got closer, I could hear my pre-teen daughter shouting get off of me you big meanie. The first thought that went through my head was, her brother is at basketball practice, so I know it was not him she was yelling at. Deciding this was serious, I rounded the coop corner and met my daughter who was madder than a wet hen.


I quickly asked if she was ok and she said, "NO!" I inquired as to what might be wrong. She held up her hand, which had a cut on it, and then she pointed to her leggings which had a tear in them. Puzzled, I asked, "Who did this to you?" She said, "That mean old rooster." She informed me that he attacks her every time she goes to feed. She demanded, "Either he goes, or I am not feeding the chickens again!" Now keep in mind, this is my wife’s favorite rooster -- slim chance he is on his way out the door -- so I had to devise a plan.


I explained to Annamarie that the rooster has never hurt me. After we put our heads together, we decided that the rooster liked me because I was the one who he knew. I feed and water the chickens most days. He knows me when I walk into the pe,n and he knows that I am usually bearing gifts of corn and water. I told her if she developed a friendship with the rooster, he might not want to take a chunk out of her leg next time. She argued with me about how she is too busy, does not know how to feed the chickens, and really is not into chickens. I told her, "Either become friends, or he will always see you as an easy target."


My daughter’s relationship with this rooster is much like the relationship we have with our elected officials. We tend to pay them a visit only when we need something because we are too busy, or are just not into politics. If we do not develop a relationship with our legislators, they will not know us, and they instead will care for the hand that feeds them.


Now I have to admit, when I started advocating for agricultural education, I was way more knowledgeable about feeding the rooster than I was about developing a relationship with legislators. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I found all of the wonderful items that the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) and the Association for Career and Technical Education have developed for us to use. These can be found on the NAAE Website at One of my favorite resources on the website is the State and National Ag Ed Profiles that can be downloaded and printed to give to legislators at all levels. If your state does not have one, simply contact Dr. Jackman, or any of the other NAAE staff members, and they can get one developed for you.


Another great opportunity to train, equip and develop relationships is coming up in March, but it is not too late to get involved. You can join ACTE and NAAE members March 13-15 for the 2017 ACTE National Policy Seminar and Ag Ed Track. During this conference, you will visit our nation’s capitol, improve your advocacy skills, meet with important members of Congress, and hear from national leaders in career and technical education. NPS will also include agricultural education-specific activities especially for NAAE members. NAAE will pay the registration fee for one NAAE member, per state to attend NPS. Your state's representative must register through NAAE -- please do not register through ACTE. Please complete the online registration form no later than Wednesday, February 1, 2017. The NAAE staff works diligently to help us further the causes of agricultural education though advocacy. I hope to see you there.


Dr. Jackman, Alissa Smith, Julie Fritsch, Andrea Fristoe, and Katie Wood are also working on numerous other initiatives, to help train, equip, and foster agricultural educators across the country. They are busy planning state level Communities of Practice workshops in hopes of making CoP more user-friendly for teachers. They are also working on transitioning News and Views to a condensed, monthly, more reader-friendly e-newsletter. And believe it or not, the staff has already begun working on plans for the 2017 NAAE convention, which will be held Nashville. 


Ellen Thompson, with National Teach Ag Campaign, is busy collecting final data from the STAR states and working with them to develop quality programming to recruit and retain the highest-quality agriculture teachers, so no program goes without a teacher.


Speaking of making our job easier, if you have not checked out the newly-designed CASE website you need to take a minute and look it over at It is very user-friendly and eye-catching. While you are there, check out the 2017 course offerings that Dan and Marlene Jansen, Shari Smith, Miranda Chaplin, Carl Aakre, Melanie Bloom, and Sara Cobb have put together. Registration is now open and the early bird usually gets the worm.


Speaking of birds, upon returning home, my daughter was informing her mother about the rooster and how mean he was. My wife said, "I do not think the rooster is mean. If you are nice to him and he knows you, he will be nice to you." My daughter shrugged her shoulders and said, "I guess I will try again tomorrow." I hope you, like my daughter, will give advocacy a try. I am sure the results will be better than any fried egg my daughter might get out of the chicken deal. Just an observation from my side of the barnyard.



A Message from our Partners as a part of News & Views:

Jessica Jones
Agriculture Teacher, Tunstall High School, Dry Fork, VA
2016 NAAE Region VI National Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award Winner


jones1.jpgJessica Jones, agriculture teacher at Tunstall High School, in Dry Fork, VA believes in providing her students with the opportunity to not only learn, but to have fun while doing so – hence the term FLEARN. Her approach to agricultural science incorporates STEM concepts into her curriculum, while also providing students with hands-on experiences in the classroom.


“FLEARN is a term I coined which represents my students actively learning through fun and engaging activities,” said Jones. “All classroom and laboratory experiences are rooted in the fundamentals of decision-making, problem-solving, teamwork, cooperation and leadership.”


Jones focuses on problem-solving in her classroom. She has her students use the scientific method to examine daily tasks and solve real-world problems. She attributes her extensive knowledge of agriscience to her training as a DuPont National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador (NATA), a NAAE professional development program. Through this training, she has learned many techniques to incorporate science in her curriculum.


Jones’ students model and investigate watersheds, explore toxicology, examine selective breeding, analyze the digestive systems of ruminants, non-ruminants and pseudo-ruminants, extract and observe DNA, and combust fossil and biofuels.


A great example of Jones’ FLEARNING style is The Bare Bones Challenge, a lesson she received as part of her NATA training. In this agriscience lesson, her students model the anatomical structure of the major livestock species using pipe cleaners, hot glue, and 11 types of pasta.


Students research animal characteristics, bone and muscle structure, and animal and environmental needs and learn how skeletal features correspond to animal movement, agility and muscle growth. Her students use this information to evaluate animal production in the United States and how what goes on at the farm directly impacts what ends up on your plate.


The Bare Bones Challenge has Jones’ students question how they view current agricultural production practices and urges them to think about how to maintain an ecological balance in production agriculture by assessing not just bare-bone essentials, but all animal and environmental needs. Her students have to explain what a farmer has to do in order to maintain his active farm, factoring in all components of a healthy environment in order to provide consumers with optimal choices at the grocery store.


By showing her students the in-depth science behind agriculture, Jones encourages critical thinking and problem solving – important life skills for her students to possess as they apply for colleges and search for employment after high school.


“I believe and know my students are our future farmers, teachers, scientists, veterinarians, and more,” said Jones. “With an ever-increasing population and the need for food, fiber and energy on-demand, I urge my students to think through their actions, find ways to remedy problems, search for the hidden answers, question the unknown, and always believe they are the bright and energetic minds who will serve to be productive citizens of our global society.”


Jones’ goal for her students as they continue to FLEARN is that they will be able to recognize the positive impact they will have on their future by serving as proactively-thinking community leaders.


Jones is the 2016 NAAE Region VI National Agriscience Teacher of the Year award winner. 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 award is sponsored by Herman & Bobbie Wilson as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. For more information about the National Agriscience Teacher of the Year award and to learn about our other regional award winners, click here.


The DuPont National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy (NATAA) has over 10 years of successfully cultivating agriscience and inquiry-based learning in agricultural education. The Academy serves to train agriculture teachers on how to enhance the science that is already present in agriculture, as well as develop students as problems solvers and thinkers through the inquiry-based teaching method. For more information about this professional development opportunity, follow this link.

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