This is an article from the January 2018 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.
Ever hear of a starving artist? It is kind of a joke that we say that phrase, yet in most schools and very much so in post-secondary education art is a required course. At my college, students that would like to transfer to the university are required to take 12 credits of Arts and Letters to major in agriculture.
If we could replace art with agriculture, would the artist still be starving? Many of you may have heard recently about Anna Peterson, a high school senior agriculture student from Nampa, Idaho, who recently drafted a bill to make agricultural science courses a requirement for all students in public schools. Anna is a non-traditional agriculture student, who started working at a dairy as part of her SAE project. When she received negative feedback from her peers about her job, she decided that there had to be some way to educate all students about where their food comes from. As part of Anna’s senior project, she drafted the bill and will introduce it at the 2018 Idaho Legislative session.
Win or lose, I am very impressed by Anna’s efforts and commend her for her advocacy work on behalf of agricultural education. If the bill fails, Anna has still won — she has educated the public through the media, she has inspired the agriculture industry, given hope and optimism for our youth, and has motivated her peers to continue advocacy for agriculture through agricultural education!
A couple years ago, Monsanto sponsored a challenge to agriculture programs about advocacy, specifically focusing on social media. Below are some quotes from Agriculture Teachers that faced that challenge:
"If we don't take control of the message that is agriculture, others will tell our story for us. Being an informed agriculturalist makes students understand the realities of agriculture and the various aspects of it."
--Misty Bivens, Agricutlure Teacher at LaRue County, Hodgenville, Ky.
"Teaching about agricultural advocacy teaches students to use higher-level thinking and identify false arguments. They learn that a majority opinion in the public's mind does not necessarily make it a fact."
--Trent Van Leuven, Agriculture Teacher at Mackay H.S., Mackay, Id.
NAAE is also focused on many different advocacy efforts. The Member Services committee is anxiously awaiting the results of the nationwide survey on why ag teachers leave the profession — we hope this can shed some light on our retention efforts through both NAAE and the National Teach Ag Campaign. Many states across the country are working on or drafting legislative bills to ensure funding for agricultural education in their states, affiliate FFA, or state leadership centers to help train agriculture students. Advocacy is a never-ending process that we must teach and perform ourselves. I truly believe that when we stop advocating for agricultural education, we will be forced to find an art position — I can only draw stick figures!
If you are looking for a way to advocate for ag ed, plan on attending this year’s National Policy Seminar in Washington D.C. March 5-7, 2018. This is an important conference for you to attend to get an understanding of the political atmosphere, and how to help not only agricultural education, but also career and technical education. ACTE does a fantastic job organizing the NPS and helping you get around Capitol Hill. NAAE will pay the registration fee for one NAAE member per state to attend the NPS. Your state's representative must register through NAAE. I encourage you to look at attending the NPS or recruiting someone from your state to attend. Year after year, I have found this to be very rewarding. I am always surprised at how eager our legislative appointees want to meet with us and hear our story.
Professional growth is where NAAE really shines offering opportunities for early, mid, and late career teachers. NPS is another avenue for you to gain professional development and share ideas with members from other states, that ultimately create resources for the grass roots organization. NAAE’s six committees will be meeting virtually over the next two months. There is always a need for committee members to serve on these committees and advocate for the organization. Check out the committee pages on Communities of Practice.
NAAE staff are getting ready to interview for the Communications/Marketing Coordinator position that is still currently open in the NAAE office, in Lexington, Ky. As of now, there have been about 30 applications that we have received and look forward to hiring the position prior to the next NAAE Board Meeting.
I look forward to seeing you at NPS in March!
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