This is a feature from the May 2018 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link
The communities that we live in never cease to amaze me! This past weekend my wife and daughter traveled south eight hours to compete at a jackpot show, while my son and I traveled four hours north to a baseball tournament. On Saturday night we got a call from the high school girl who was taking care of our animals at home. She reported that my daughter's steer was prolapsing and was distended. She was doing all she could and no veterinarians were around. We called a local rancher and he came out and sewed up the steer, tubed him with the help of the neighbor girl and her parents. We were able to get back on Sunday and worked on the steer some more. We ended up taking the steer Sunday night to the neighboring town 30 miles away to a vet who was willing to work after hours. We left the calf at the clinic overnight, deciding that he was impacted in his intestine and was going to require more attention in the morning. The next morning, the vet called and said that we had lost the steer. The veterinarian had called a local feedlot and made arrangements for disposal and called the tractor dealership to borrow a tractor to load the carcass. By the end of the day, everything had been taken care of. Flowers and dinner were even sent to our family and numerous people had made offers to help my daughter.
Now here is the interesting thing about this tragedy. The neighbor girl is an active 4-H and FFA member, her parents are on the FFA Alumni board. The rancher is a former state FFA officer; I had taught the veterinarian's sons when they were in high school; the feedlot manager’s daughters also went through my ag program at both the college and high school level and they are ag teachers now. Lastly, the tractor dealership is extremely supportive at the local livestock shows and employs my students. All these people came together to help a kid who had lost her animal at the drop of a hat by just a simple phone call. As an ag teacher, your roots grow deep every year and the impact you have will ultimately comes back to you.
I say it time and time again — the program that you operate is not a school program, it is a community program more so than any other that the school offers. Therefore, your continued professional development is not just for you — it’s for your community as well! This summer, make plans to attend your state and regional professional development conferences. The value you get from workshops, tours, committees, and the social aspect allow you to reconnect with the profession and gives you experiences for your classroom and rejuvenates you as a teacher. I truly believe that the professional development you get from NAAE — whether at the state, regional or national level — is unparalleled to anything you would get from another organization.
Make attending a priority and do not let cost stop you from attending. We need to express to our administration, advisory committee, and alumni how important it is for us to stay connected to ag education. Remember these activities — be it conferences, CASE institutes, Farmer to Farmer, or Ag I² — are helping to enhance the community, not just you! You will find out, just like I did, that your community cares for you and your family and will offer help without hesitation.
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