Being an agriculture teacher really is the BEST. CAREER. EVER. Yes, there are days that make us question our sanity. There are struggles and misfortunes that occasionally leave us feeling defeated, as with any other profession. What makes our job worth it, though, is the profound impact we are able to make in the lives of our students each and every day. We equip the future with knowledge and skills that are necessary to be successful in postsecondary education, the workforce, and life in general.
It is for this reason that agriculture teachers stay in the profession for a lifetime. Jill Shrum, former agriculture teacher at Hendersonville High School, in Hendersonville, Tennessee, spent her 20 year teaching career molding her students into critical thinkers and problem solvers. Prior to her retirement, she also served in many roles both inside and outside of the classroom. Shrum was a mentor for eight student teachers from Middle Tennessee State University, the University of Tennessee at Martin, and Western Kentucky University. She also helped to train new teachers across the state through a variety of workshops that focused on curriculum design, hands-on learning, and classroom management.
Since 1997, she led a statewide event called “Flowers on the Hill,” that brought members of the Tennessee Association of Agricultural Educators and the Tennessee FFA Association together to lobby for agricultural education in Tennessee. This event not only provided an avenue for teachers, students and stakeholders to advocate for agricultural education, but also served as an experiential learning opportunity for Shrum’s students. Each year, her students created floral arrangements for each of the 133 Tennessee legislators and Governor and delivered the arrangements themselves. Through this experience, Shrum’s students gained practical knowledge, while they also made a difference in educational policy in the state of Tennessee.
Shrum’s contributions to the agricultural education profession are the reasons she was named the 2017 NAAE Region V Lifetime Achievement award winner. Her diligence in and out of the classroom made a difference in the lives of her students and colleagues. She truly set an example for current and aspiring agriculture teachers to mentor, motivate, and make a difference throughout their careers.
NAAE recognizes retired NAAE members who have made significant contributions to agricultural education at the state, regional, and national levels with Lifetime Achievement Award. This program is sponsored by Ford as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. For more information about this award category, and to see the other 2017 Lifetime Achievement award winners, follow this link.
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Hello NAAE Members,
Well, it’s that time of year again when we welcome students back to our classrooms with the excitement of agriculture and the role it plays in our daily lives. I want to share with you an excerpt from an article I read on teach.com, on how teachers make a difference and change the lives of their students in three aspects.
1. Education -- A great teacher makes learning fun, as stimulating, engaging lessons are pivotal to a student’s academic success. Some students who are more prone to misbehavior, truancy or disengagement are more dependent on an engaging teacher. Making your classroom an exciting environment for learning will hold the students’ fascination, and students learn best when they are both challenged and interested. It’s part of motivating students, which may not be easy, but which will benefit students immeasurably in the long run.
2. Inspiration -- Inspiring students is integral to ensuring their success and encouraging them to fulfill their potential. Students who are inspired by their teachers can accomplish amazing things, and that motivation almost always stays with them. Inspiration can also take many forms, from helping a pupil through the academic year and their short-term goals, to guiding them towards their future career. Years after graduation, many working professionals will still cite a particular teacher as the one who fostered their love of what they currently do and attribute their accomplishments to that educator.
3. Guidance -- Teachers can also be a trusted source of advice for students weighing important life decisions. Educators can help their pupils pursue higher education, explore career opportunities, and compete in events they might otherwise have not thought themselves able to. Students often look to their teachers as mentors with experience and knowledge and, as an educator, you will almost definitely be asked for advice at some point during your career.
-Excerpt from "Teachers Change Lives"
My topic this month is the importance of agriculture teachers in the classroom. I want to commend our agriculture teachers across the U.S. that go in to their classrooms each day to educate our students on the importance of agriculture and the major role agriculture plays in society.
Let’s take a moment and think about how the demographics have changed. Each year, fewer of our students are raised on family farms. I can attest that 30 plus years ago, when I was in high school, at least 50 to 60 percent of my classmates were directly related to production agriculture. Today, in that same geographic location, production agriculture families have decreased to around 10 to 15 percent. One of the struggles we have today in the classroom is trying to explain the importance of agriculture to a growing society that is not directly related to the production side of agriculture.
We, as educators, must always strive to explain the importance of agriculture and how we should also appreciate the American farmer who produces our food more efficiently in the US than any other country in the world. I tell my students each year; “No matter how important and successful you become, you will never escape agriculture. For without agriculture, you would be unclothed and hungry.”
I want to personally encourage you to celebrate the National Teach Ag Day in your classroom on September 20th. If you will go to the NAAE home page and click on the Teach Ag pulldown, you will find lesson plans for either 40-50 minute class periods or 75-85 minute class periods. These lesson plans provide everyone with instructional materials to use in the classroom to promote agricultural education.
I want to encourage you to share with your students the current demand for agriculture teachers we are facing in the US and how they can be part of the best career ever.
Our staff, board members, and officers have been very busy this summer attending regional summer conferences, making state visits, judging award applications, and working on the logistics for NAAE Convention in San Antonio, Texas. I want to congratulate the award winners and scholarship recipients on a job well done and I look forward to seeing you at convention. NAAE hopes that everyone is planning to attend the 2018 National Agricultural Education Summit, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, just prior to the 2018 NAAE Convention and ACTE CareerTech Vision 2018.
Our staff and board members are gearing up for the September board meeting in Lexington, Kentucky on September 7th,8th and 9th. I would like to encourage our committee chairs to please try and have your virtual meetings done as soon as possible. Minutes from the regional meetings can be found on your committee page, which should help with the discussion topics you will bring before your 18 committee members. Please compile your recommendations from your virtual meeting for our board meeting. Please include Nick and I in your email call-in information for your virtual meetings, we want to stay informed on the direction the committee feels they need to move toward.
I want to thank you for your time and everything each of you do to help educate our students about agriculture and the importance it plays in our daily lives. I want to encourage you to reflect back on the article I shared with you from teach.com, and always remember you are making a difference in our future by inspiring one student at a time.
I hope you have a blessed year,
NAAE President Elect
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