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 http://www.naae.org/advocacy/index.cfm. 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 http://www.case4learning.org/. 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.
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