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This is a feature from the July 2018 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.


As agriculture teachers, we believe our students are our future. Why shouldn’t we feel the same way about student members in our professional organization? NAAE student members represent the future leadership of our grassroots organization, so it is important that we encourage our preservice teachers to take advantage of early membership.


A primary benefit of NAAE student membership is liability insurance. As teachers, we know how important it is to have legal coverage when we are in the classroom, so it is important that we stress to our student members – whether a former student, student teacher, or a group of preservice teachers at your summer conference – that liability insurance is a necessity when entering the classroom.


Another benefit of NAAE student membership is early access to professional development. NAAE works diligently to provide preservice teachers with opportunities to learn about inquiry-based instruction, classroom management, and so much more. Our student members have the chance to enter their first classroom with their pockets overflowing with curriculum, tips, tools, and resources to hit the ground running and be tremendously successful in their first year of teaching.


NAAE also offers its student members summer internship opportunities. In the areas of advocacy, communications, and professional development, preservice teachers are able to see “behind the scenes” of agricultural education. These experiences help future teachers gain knowledge and skills that will help make their agriculture programs unique.


These are just a few of the numerous benefits students can take advantage of while in college – and did we mention student membership is only $10? What a great deal for our preservice teachers! So the next time you are around preservice agriculture teachers, make sure you stress to them the importance of their early involvement and membership in their professional organization. Share your reasons for being involved in NAAE and help them to get an early start in their future careers.


For more information about NAAE student membership follow this link.

This is a feature from the July 2018 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.


This year, we are excited to have five fantastic interns working on behalf of agricultural education, in the areas of communications, professional development, advocacy and Teach Ag. We can’t wait for you to meet them this year in San Antonio for the 2018 NAAE Convention!




Name: Taylor Searie Masters
University of Kentucky
Year in School:
Hometown, State:
Irvine, Kentucky


Why did you choose to major in agricultural education? 
I chose to major in agricultural education because I want to help students find their niche through agriculture. The agriculture industry has always held a spot in my heart. I was raised on a small family farm in eastern Kentucky, where my father trained horses. My love for agriculture began on the family farm, but it wasn’t until I started taking agriculture classes in high school, that I realized my calling was to become an agriculture teacher.


What are your professional goals? 
Once I complete my bachelor’s degree in agricultural education at the University of Kentucky, I hope become an agriculture teacher in eastern Kentucky. I want give back to the region that shaped me in to the person I am today.


What has been the best part of your internship? 
The best part of my internship thus far has been serving as a judge for the Agriscience Fair at the Kentucky FFA State Convention. I was able to serve an organization that gave so much to me as a high school student, while networking with professionals and educators in Kentucky’s agriculture industry. 



Name: Caitlin Ross
School: University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Year in School: First Year Masters Student – Animal Science, Physiology
Hometown, State: Maysville, Kentucky


Why did you choose to major in agricultural education?  Compared to most kids, I grew up in a rather abnormal situation -- both of my parents just happened to be teachers. My mom, a fifth grade math teacher, was the parent who constantly pushed me to perform various learning exercises, from book reports to the F.O.I.L. method – she instilled in me a love and appreciation for learning.  


With my Dad, things were always a little different. Instead of written assignments, I would always beg him to include me on whatever “field trip” he had scheduled next. At first, it started out with home visit -- one in particular with a happy and hungry pig who loved marshmallows. Then, I always wanted to go with my dad on his week long summer adventures to a camp with tons of high school students dressed in interesting blue jackets, where they canoed in the lake and “played” in groups on wooden obstacle courses. My all-time favorite were the yearly trips to the fair where there were cows and sheep and pigs, oh my! So, while I received my love of learning from my mom, I found my subject passion with my dad, the agriculture teacher.


As I entered college, although I resisted at first to the idea of becoming exactly like my parents, I found a balance in a degree where I could fulfill my love of livestock with my passion for helping others – agricultural education.


What are your professional goals?  Through my student teaching experiences at Western Hills High School in Frankfort, KY and The Scots School in Bathurst, Australia, I was able to discover just how much I truly enjoy making connections with students and being able to see them succeed. However, I was faced with a dilemma because I also really enjoy expanding my knowledge in the animal science industry. After much thought, I have decided to pursue a master’s degree in animal science. After that, I have aspirations to become an animal science professor at a postsecondary institution, so that I am able to teach about the subject I enjoy the most.  


What has been the best part of your internship? 
I have enjoyed working with my fellow interns and learning more about them and their goals and interests. I feel that I have had a great opportunity to learn from each of them by how they approach situations and problem-solve. My interactions with them have helped me to grow personally and professionally.


Professional Development

Name: Star Schipper
School: South Dakota State University
Year in School: Senior
Hometown, State: Lonsdale, Minnesota


Why did you choose to major in agricultural education?  When I was in high school I was not able to take any agriculture courses because my high school did not have an agriculture program. I was not able to participate in FFA or 4-H because we did not have the programs and because of this I did not have a lot of opportunities that other students that I go to college with did and still do. This has really opened my eyes and I want to start a new high school agriculture program or an adult education program to give students the opportunities that I did not have.


What are your professional goals?  I would really like to start my own business or work for a company that educates the public about the agriculture industry. I feel that the agriculture industry does not get the credit that it deserves because of biased information that is spreading. I feel that education is the key to fixing this issue.


What has been the best part of your internship?  The best part of this summer has been working with my amazing team at NAAE and getting to see the wonderful state of Kentucky with them!



Name: Samantha Wagner           
School: Michigan State University
Year in School: Senior
Hometown, State: Springport, Michigan


Why did you choose to major in agricultural education?  When I think back on my years in agriculture classes and how my passion for agriculture grew, I think back to one situation in particular. It was my freshman year of high school and our FFA chapter was partnering with the Jackson County Farm Bureau for Project Rural Education Day, or Project R.E.D. I was assigned to explain where all the ingredients in pizza come from to a group of third graders. As the kids came around to our station, I watched in awe as urban students became intrigued to learn where their food came from. As urbanization continues to increase, we begin to see a divide between consumers and producers -- exemplified by only 22 percent of Americans trusting that the agriculture industry is transparent about food production practices. It is now more important than ever, to ensure that individuals know where their food comes from. It was in that moment, interacting with those kids, that I had realized the agriculture industry needed me and I was excited to answer the call to service.


What are your professional goals?  Upon completion of my bachelor’s degree, I will become certified to teach agriscience within the following year. In this year, I will be student teaching in an agriscience classroom, which will allow me to gain real classroom instruction experience, as well as permit me to expand my horizons in the agriculture field for a few years before pursuing a master’s degree. There are three areas that interest me greatly within the agriculture industry; communications, education, and policy. I believe that all of these areas are interconnected. You cannot effectively educate if you cannot communicate, and you cannot advocate for policy if you cannot educate. It is for this reason that I am still undecided about pursuing a master’s degree in agricultural communications, agricultural education or policy. After the completion of my master's degree, I intend to pursue a career in agriculture -- whether it be in the classroom or elsewhere in the agriculture sector, I will use my communication and advocacy skills to help guide me.


What has been the best part of your internship?  The best part about my internship has been interacting and educating individuals who have had very little exposure or previous knowledge of agricultural education. As I work through a typical meeting with a Representative or Senator, I am able to provide them with background information on agricultural education, career and technical education, and the National FFA Organization. It is after showing them how unique agricultural education three circle model is, and how we are able to integrate mathematics, science and literacy through a hands-on approach in agriculture, that they realize just how amazing agricultural education really is.  


Teach Ag

Name: Elizabeth Knight
School: University of Kentucky
Year in School: Junior
Hometown, State: Frederick, Maryland


Why did you choose to major in agricultural education?  Agriculture is something that has always been important in my life. As I began to be more involved within the industry, I started to see the need to educate those both directly and indirectly involved in agriculture. Whether it be at the grocery store or on Facebook, you are bound to see less than factual information being spread about the agriculture industry, so I decided a major in agricultural education was a way to combat that. There are also so many opportunities available to agricultural education majors to educate others both in the classroom and through non-traditional settings. I love the versatility and variability that this major provides. The opportunities are endless!


What are your professional goals?  After graduation, I would love to be an agriculture teacher for a few years and gain experience from the formal education side. Eventually, I would like to step into a more non-traditional role of education, possibly through a non-profit or the USDA. Wherever my journey as an agricultural educator takes me, I always want to make it my goal to continuously advocate for the agriculture industry. 


What has been the best part of your internship?  This is a tough question because I have really loved everything about it! If I had to pick something, I would probably say the opportunity to travel. I am the type of person who loves going to new places and through Teach Ag I am getting the opportunity to travel to several cities and states that I have never been to before for various conferences and events. Through these experiences, I am also getting the opportunity to expand my network and develop myself professionally. This internship provides opportunities beyond my desk and that, to me, is one of the best parts.

This is a feature from the July 2018 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.


For most of us summertime is a busy time, just a different kind of busy than the school year offers. I find myself between livestock shows and baseball tournaments right now, along with traveling around to ag teachers' conferences. I landed in Pennsylvania to attend the NAAE Region VI Conference, and by the I got into the rental car to go to the conference location it was time for my son’s little league game, which I can listen to from an app on my phone. My son got a triple, which got me so excited that I missed the sign to turn and ended up on the turnpike, which happened to be a toll road.  We don’t have toll roads in Oregon, and I'm still not sure how they work, but what I have learned is that if you do not have a ticket, they charge you for traveling the whole length of I-83. My missed road cost me $30 for the 10 miles I was on it — someone from the east coast needs to help this rural Oregon kid out!


The more I travel around and visit with ag teachers, the more I am of the opinion that all ag teachers are the same no matter where you go -- we all have the same struggles and issues. One issue that is very common is an increase of non-traditional teachers filling the ag teacher shortfall. The real concern is that these teachers seldom last very long because of issues with classroom management, learning FFA, SAE's, or being willing to collaborate in their teachers' association. Some become very successful -- I can name two -- but most non-traditional, industry-based teachers struggle with the huge learning curve in agricultural education. We have a huge growth of new teachers, and I think this is a direct result of the National Teach Ag Campaign, however these teachers are struggling as well.


So the question that I get most often is how do we as a state or a region better support these teachers? Things that I have noticed across the nation is that our professional conferences are extremely helpful if we can get the teachers there. I have witnessed that successful conferences have infused more workshops instead of tours, and this is a direct result of “needs” surveys done prior to the conferences. New teachers want the content and the how-to’s! One state I visited had three days of workshops that varied from a full day, two hours, one hour to 30 minutes, based on the emphasis from the teachers attending. This conference that I speak of had a record number of teachers attending, and I believe that was because the state leadership did an outstanding job listening to the needs of the teachers they represented and were willing to change their conference to meet their members' needs.


As the National Teach Ag Campaign is doing a great job recruiting teachers, it is our job to retain them. I believe this begins with encouraging new teacher membership in our organization. Some regions have really done an excellent job of helping preservice teachers get to state, regional and national conferences — I believe this is important because we get them into the wonderful collaboration and the family collusion that NAAE provides its members. It is no different in recruiting your freshmen to become FFA members, because if we wait until they are sophomores or juniors, they have already missed out on so much. One region that I have visited has about four universities with agricultural education degrees, that work together to provide workshops specifically for preservice teachers at the regional conference. This workshop is one day ahead of the major conference schedule, but allows preservice teachers to hear from experienced teachers from various states. This also helps the preservice teachers to learn of the jobs available, and gives them a chance to be recruited as well. This is a win-win, as these soon-to-be new teachers are getting to rub shoulders with experienced ag teachers, who tend to be the state leaders, but the experienced teachers are learning the new technology and out-of-the-box ideas from the preservice teachers.


Lastly, I truly believe the next step to support our current, new, and future teachers is to set up a mentoring system at the local and national levels. The professional growth committee is soon to roll out a national mentorship handbook that can be very beneficial to retaining teachers. As older, more-seasoned ag teachers, we have to be willing to take an active role in this process. We must be willing to mentor young and non-traditional teachers to make sure their teaching experience is as successful as our own.


The NAAE staff have been busy all summer preparing for the national conference in San Antonio this fall. This includes that includes selecting and announcing award winners, selecting workshop presenters, sponsors, speakers, organizing the many programs for ag teachers and so much more. Currently there are four interns working in the office and one in Washington D.C., serving NAAE in an advocacy role. Recently we rewrote the Communications/Marketing position to find a person that really is dialed-in on the communications part of that position, who can run the website, CoP, as well as marketing, and be able to teach ag teachers how to use all of our resources. Virtual committee meetings will be scheduled shortly as we finish up the last regional conferences, so look for those dates on CoP. The action items will be evaluated and put into action at the NAAE Board meeting in September. Summer is indeed a different kind of busy, but please take some time to refuel the flame you have for teaching!


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