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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