This is an article from the May 2017 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.
This past year, when my children decided that they wanted to keep their gilts from the county fair and breed them, I became a little stressed. I had been an ag teacher for 18 years, but had never artificially inseminated pigs or watched them for standing heat. The pressure was on.
So, I did what all good agriculture teachers do, I Googled it. I found more information and videos than I could possibly read and watch. My Advanced Animal Science students began to sort through the videos and articles and pulled out the credible sources and highlighted themes. We also sought out local experts on the topic and asked for their advice. Our next step was to develop a calendar of events and prepare for some baby pigs.
Three months, three weeks, and the three days after breeding, we had a litter of five baby piglets. These babies were the result of the network of knowledge, resources, and contacts we had developed.
As we were searching for sources of information about swine reproduction, it was no surprise when the NAAE Communities of Practices page popped up on my Google search. It provided links to lesson plans and Power Points that fellow agriculture teachers had developed on the topic. It even provided me with email addresses so I could contact fellow agriculture teachers who had posted information on the topic. There is no way I could possibly put a value on the experience and expertise that those fellow agriculture teachers provided.
Speaking of those fellow agriculture teachers, every time we go on a field trip, I spend a great deal of time talking with the agriculture teachers who are there. My students often comment, "Mr. Stone, I think you know everyone." Well, the truth is, I do not know everyone, but NAAE has provided me an opportunity to meet and work with hundreds of agriculture teachers from across this country. Those agriculture teachers are the ones I rely on when I have questions on anything from curriculum mapping to finding information about National FFA Housing on the website.
Speaking of websites, the NAAE website also has a tremendous amount of information for downloading. These resources provide information on anything from advocacy to professional development opportunities. The NAAE staff is currently working very hard on some of the professional development opportunities. The National Teach Ag Ambassadors have just been selected and you can find more information out about these individuals at http://www.naae.org/teachag/index.cfm#ambassadors. You can also expand your network of resources by attending a CASE institute this summer, that the CASE staff has worked very hard to develop. Finally, the NAAE staff has put together quite the line up of Teacher Appreciation Week activities.
As we watch these five little pigs grow and develop into what will hopefully be our show barrows for this summer, I cannot help but think that none of this would be possible had we not developed a network of resources to help us through the process. The same is true with agriculture teachers across this country. Our professional careers would not be where they are today had we not developed a network of resources, which oftentimes begins with NAAE membership. This is just another one of my observations form my side of the barnyard.
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