This is an article from the November 2017 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.
Every agriculture teacher has a unique story to tell about the beginning of his or her teaching career. Some are fortunate to have the opportunity to walk into a well-established, multi-teacher department, with excellent administrative and community support. Oftentimes though, new agriculture teachers have to take a struggling program and build it into something that the students, administration and community value. Such is the case for Tyler Johnson, agriculture teacher at Murtaugh High School, in Murtaugh, Idaho.
Johnson became the agriculture teacher at Murtaugh High School in 2014. He was initially faced with a struggling agriculture program and lack of student and community interest. Through the development of a program vision, community partnerships, and allowing his students to take ownership in their program’s facilities, Johnson has been able to establish the Murtaugh agriculture program as a valuable part of the school and community.
“My philosophy of education is simple – guide students to realize that all their goals and aspirations are obtainable,” said Johnson.
Johnson’s initial focus at Murtaugh High School, which perfectly aligned with his teaching philosophy, was to build a new facility. Over the course of the last two years, he and his students have worked together to build a new classroom and welding shop, along with a new greenhouse.
“Building our new facilities turned into a great learning opportunity for my students and me,” said Johnson. “As we went through the process, there were many different tasks to accomplish, so I took each class and adapted the tasks at hand to the content objectives.”
Johnson began with the construction of a new classroom and welding shop. His students completed every aspect of the project from design, to framing and fabrication. After the completion of the classroom and shop, Johnson and his students turned their attention to designing and building their new greenhouse.
“My greenhouse and plant science classes designed the greenhouse, while my intro to mechanics class had the opportunity to do all of the ground work, concrete framing, layout, and pouring,” said Johnson. “I cannot imagine a better opportunity for my students to learn than by walking through the whole process from start to finish, and then being able to call the facilities our own when the projects were completed.”
Through the construction of the new facilities, Johnson has been able to develop many new and beneficial relationships within the community and state of Idaho. The program has received advice and financial support from Community Builders, Key Ag Distributors, Twin Falls Animal Health Vet Supply Company, and the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. All of these relationships, along with the development of a strong advisory board will allow the agriculture program to continue to grow and prosper.
“Moving forward, there are many projects left to complete in the Murtaugh ag program before we meet all of our facility goals,” said Johnson. “Now that we have been through the process, I know it can be a great experience to have the students involved with.”
The Teachers Turn the Key scholarship program is sponsored by RAM Trucks, as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. For more information about the program and to see additional winners, follow this link.
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