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119 Posts authored by: Andrea Fristoe
Andrea Fristoe

The Mark of a Mentor

Posted by Andrea Fristoe Jun 14, 2018

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


HeadShot.jpgAs you browse Communities of Practice, attend your regional conference, or engage in summer professional development opportunities, you are bound to interact with several great mentors in agricultural education. The great thing about our profession is that there is an abundance of people willing to help you – whether you need resources for a lesson, advice on classroom management, or just a listening ear, there is always someone willing to help.


One such mentor is Wesley Anderson, agriculture teacher at Lac Qui Parle Valley High School, in Madison, Minnesota. Over the course of his 35 year teaching career, Anderson has been able to serve as both a formal and informal mentor to numerous agriculture teachers across the state of Minnesota.


“All of my career I have simply helped any ag teacher who needs assistance,” said Anderson. “I have shared my officer handbook and other materials with many instructors. I have teachers call me all the time asking for contacts for various topics and resources.”


Anderson is an open book for budding and seasoned agriculture teachers when it comes to information and tools to help build and improve their programs. However, the topic he most highly regards and stresses to those he mentors is the importance of Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) visits.



“I stress to other teachers how important it is to the parents of our students that a teacher from their child’s school actually comes out to visit them on their turf,” said Anderson. “That in itself sends such a powerful message to the family.”

The home visits are a critical part to Anderson’s program because it allows him to develop a relationship with both his students and their families outside of the classroom. Students who feel that he truly cares about their agricultural endeavors will ultimately be more engaged in the classroom and the program as a whole.


Anderson is also a proponent of the Ag Experience Tracker, which allows him and his students to document and track data for their SAE projects. This online recordkeeping system provides him and his students an in-depth analysis of their SAE projects, which helps them improve and advance their projects with ease. As a teacher, he wants to be fully involved in his students’ projects and provide them with the best tools, resources, and information to help them be successful.


Wesley Anderson was named the 2017 NAAE Region III Teacher Mentor award recipient. This award program is sponsored by CEV Multimedia. For more information about the Teacher Mentor award category and to see the other regional award winners, follow this link.

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


NAAE05web.jpgAs a NAAE member, a great benefit you have access to is Communities of Practice (CoP). This online portal is a professional networking website just for agriculture teachers. From lesson plans to discussion boards, CoP is a great resource to help you build your professional network and teacher toolbox.


If you haven’t accessed CoP before, or if it’s been a while, there are some great new resources available that you might want to be aware of.


First, make sure to check out the Urban Agriculture community. This page was developed by Dr. B. Allen Talbert, Professor, and Alli Lee, Graduate Assistant, of Purdue University as a part of a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NFA) grant through the SPECA Challenge grant program. From soil lesson plans to content on microgreens, Urban Agriculture has numerous resources that can help you re-charge your plant science curriculum.


While you are browsing CoP, make sure to take a look at what is going on with the Virtual Book Club. A new professional development opportunity offered through NAAE, current and future ag teachers are able to engage with The Wild Card, while simultaneously earning up to 12 hours of professional development credit. Interested in signing up for the book club, but missed the June 11th deadline? Contact Katie Wood and she can help you register and catch up to the group!


Are you a new teacher? Hop on over to the New Teachers community and see what your peers have to say! Find some great interest approach ideas, compare curriculum, or just post a question – this space is a great way to connect with other new teachers who likely have the same questions you do.


These communities are just a few great resources available on Communities of Practice. There are so many more you need to check out to help build and revitalize your curriculum. The best part about CoP, though, is that it is FREE! You just have to take a few minutes to create your account and then all these resources are yours!


Ready to sign up? Click here to get started.


Need help with your login information, resetting your password, or re-activating your account? Contact Andrea Fristoe with your questions.


*Please note your Communities of Practice account is separate from your online NAAE website account.



Friday Notes is designed to enhance communication among various agricultural sectors, educators, students, and the public who are interested in a variety of plant, animal, food, and environmental issues. Friday Notes advocates the pursuit of credible, unbiased, science-based information. Material contained in linked articles is from the original authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of CAST.

In This Issue...... Click to Read
Credible Research Ties in with Current Headlines--P. 2
Animal Agriculture News
Food Science and Safety News
Plant and Environment News
International News
General Interest News
flag, memorial day,
  A safe, enjoyable Memorial Day weekend to all. Check out this article to learn how an agricultural weed came to symbolize Memorial Day.



World Pork Expo 


The Pork Checkoff will host its annual Producer Opportunity for Revenue and Knowledge Academy sessions at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on June 6 and 7.


Ag Voices of the Future
Are you interested in ag policy, have a passion for soybean production, and at least 18 years old? Don't miss out on this opportunity! Applications are due June 1. 



Nominations Due

The Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application is presented every October in Des Moines, Iowa, by the World Food Prize Foundation. Nominations are due by June 15.   


Submit an Idea



TeeEverWe welcome suggestions for future CAST publications and projects. Click here to submit ideas.


Fighting Hunger

Elanco's Jeff Simmons, the 2015 

BCCA laureate, explains a

combined effort with Heifer International to fight hunger.


A Challenge for Farmers
Consumers want to know the story behind their food, and it could only take as much as 10 minutes of social media each day to make a difference.


  Catch CAST Online! us on social media tostay up to date on the latest ag trends and recent CAST news!
May 25, 2018


  The Inscrutables?   



Not really--but the concept of "blockchain" and the term "sustainable" are often tough to pin down   



ag questions_ farmcrowdy.comIn ag circles, "blockchain" is the new buzz word, and "sustainable" has been an overused adjective for years. While some in the world of agriculture are experts about these issues, others get a glazed look as the terms come at them in a hypnotic barrage. The following links might help:


News and Views

Trade, Tariffs, and Ag:
  Trade tensions between China and the United States are still high, but some grain groups are optimistic--and this article says beef might benefit, also. On the other hand, President Trump is now downplaying expectations for a quick resolution to trade issues with China. 

The Bill:  The Farm Bill is still in play, and this link provides a couple of reports about what is likely to happen as the debates continue.


Biotech and Food (podcasts):  According to Kevin Folta, these six podcasts offer insightful discussions on the topic of genetically engineered foods.


Robotic Weeders:  Robots are taking precision weed killing to another level--and this could affect pesticide use and biotech crops.

Farms, Ranches, and Land (video):  Along with a look at land prices, this article includes a report from the American Farmland Trust--an assessment of the loss of U.S. farmland and ranch land.


         News from the Far Side of the Barn




Two weeks ago, an osprey hijacked a fish and shark; this time, a diving eagle takes a fox airborne as they fight over an unlucky rabbit.

Not-so-ugly Ducklings (video):  A Labrador retriever named Fred adopts nine ducklings.


Captivating Cacti (video):  This time-lapse video of blooming cacti is hypnotic


Octo-aliens? (video): These scientists say octopuses came from outer space.  



Cat Cruisin' at High Speed (video):  We're hoping this cat enjoyed the ride and landed on its feet.                         


Science-based Research and Current News



The phrase "credible, peer-reviewed research" might elicit cosmic sighs from some, as they envision publications laden with technical terms and scientific concepts. But the process is crucial in a world that needs solid, thoughtful information. CAST publishes issue papers, commentaries, and special reports to inform the public and policymakers--and with increasing regularity, the topics are resonating in current headlines. The following links reflect a few of the connections between CAST papers and current news. For more examples, click here to read our latest blog, CAST Publications Continue to Resonate with Recent Research.



Biotech and Labeling:  In a recent email to suppliers, Whole Foods announced the company would pause its genetically modified food labeling requirements that had been scheduled to start on September 1. CAST Issue Paper #56 examined process labeling and its effects on the food industry.


Gene Editing, Crops, and Regulations:The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing method has the potential to greatly influence agriculture and food production. A recent CAST Issue Paper looks at the potential of this process and the ways that regulatory barriers hinder innovation



More Buzz about Bees:  The University of California-Davis provides a video to look at some of the complicated issues regarding bee health. And this Cornell University scientist discusses additional challenges bees face. The topic brings up many opinions, and the CAST Commentary, "Why Does Bee Health Matter?" uses science-based information to explain some of the important concepts.


Animal Health and Welfare:  Researchers are working to discover nutritional products that could help decrease illness and lessen the need for medicines. Animal welfare is a controversial topic, and this editorial writer says some extreme activists have trouble understanding the word "compromise."  A recent CAST Task Force Report looked at the science behind some of these issues: Scientific, Ethical, and Economic Aspects of Farm Animal Welfare.


Globe (TopLatestNews)

Friday Notes News Categories


Photos courtesy of the Agricultural Research Service (top masthead); TopLatest News (globe at right). P. 1 flag pic from livinwithme.jpg, ag question mark pic from, ag voices image from, and eagle pic from P. 2 gene edit graphic from and bee poster from Animal Sec. cow pic from Food Sec. grill pic from Plant Sec. helicopter pic from Inter. Sec. lion pic from Gen. Sec. Beyonce photo from Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Service.    


   Baby Chicks

      Animal Agriculture and Environmental News


holstein calves_


Penn State researchers found descendants of diverse Holstein lineages--several recently born calves have garnered a fan following.

Can Eggs Have a Footprint? (video):  As the end of National Egg Month draws near, check out this video that highlights the industry's commitment to lowering their carbon footprint.


Subcutaneous Fitbits:  A start-up company in Utah is putting biomonitors under cows' skin in hopes of helping farmers spot disease earlier.   


Bioprinted Pigs: This research team is working to print 3D pig liver tissue from genetically engineered pig cells.



For Brain and Body (opinion):  According to Farm Babe, meat is full of nutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium, vitamins, and fatty acids--and such a diet is a component of brain health.

Pushing Beef Quality to the Limits:  Texas A&M researchers are exploring the potential for cloning animals for meat quality using DNA from postmortem muscle cells.

Dog Years:  The world's most influential synthetic biologist is behind a new company that plans to rejuvenate dogs using gene therapy. If it works, he plans to try the same approach on humans. 

"PHARM-ers": A disability can be difficult for anyone to handle, but it can prove especially challenging for farmers. These four-legged friends are making farm life a little easier for those who need assistance. 



Salmonella (FSIS)

   Food Science and Safety News


Fresher Food Tips (video): These seven tips and tricks are proven to leave your food fresh and edible for longer periods of time.


Grilling up a Healthy Meal:  Grilling season is well under way, and this survey shows nearly 75% of consumers prefer to grill their vegetables.

Field and Fork Food Pantry:  Thanks to the generous donation made by a Florida cattleman, those who rely on this University of Florida food pantry and garden will enjoy a nutritious meal packed with protein.   


Feed 4 Thought:  A recent survey indicates a majority of consumers believe their protein is raisedand handled with proper food safety measures. 



Wasted:  These master chefs say the key to reducing food waste includes putting leftovers to use, never shopping hungry, and giving your booze an upgrade.  


Don't Cry over Spilled (Raw) Milk?  Legislators from both sides of the aisle joined to defeat an amendment to the Farm Bill that would have allowed the interstate sale of unpasteurized raw milk

A Meaty Issue:  Missouri is one step closer to being the first state to enact labeling that makes it clear whether or not "meat" is sourced from an animal or not.


An Un-meaty Issue (related to above): The makers of the plant-based Beyond Burger unveiled their latest innovation--featuring a blend of peas, mung beans, rice, and sunflower protein.  



Plant Agriculture and Environmental News


helicopter sprayer_


Cattle producers are using helicopters to apply herbicides to control invasive weeds and put pastures back into grass production.

Biology Breakthroughs (video):  The USDA recently released the review of a GE virus that fights against the Florida citrus greening disease.


Tomato Wellness (podcast):  This UC-Davis plant breeder explains the art and science behind breeding delicious tomatoes that are ripe with flavor and nutrition. 



Cotton Agronomics: Mississippi State researchers are using biodegradable film to trap soil heat and help young cotton plants establish a more robust root system--resulting in more vigorous and healthier plants.


Organic Produce, Pesticides, and Truth (opinion): This noted editorial food writer looks at the USDA measurements of pesticide residues in our food.

Rejoice for Rice:  A team of Purdue scientists used CRISPR to develop a variety of rice that produces 25-31% more grain--something that would have been impossible with traditional breeding methods.  



Plants Rule the Earth: Research says that plants pack more heft than any other kingdom of life on the planet--making up 80% of all the carbon stored in living creatures.



Fighting Fungi:  University of Florida scientists hope that a group of fungi might fight a disease that's dangerous to tomatoes and specialty crops. 


  World and Plug (SFGate)

  International News  



This Malawian forest was almost emptied of wildlife, but a modern-day Noah's ark maneuver to move wildlife from other parts of the continent has rejuvenated the area.

Feline Fence: The world's longest cat-proof fence has been built in central Australia to help endangered species.   



Egging on Healthy Hearts:  A major study of nearly half a million Chinese people has concluded that eating an egg a day may lead to a lower risk of heart disease

The Ancient Rice Road: A study of 4,000-year-old DNA suggests that rice cultivation came with farmers migrating from China.



Seaweed in Your Tank?  Part of the Dutch energy program includes a push for the use of seaweed--a product ideally suited for biorefining.   

Armyworm on the March: Experts warn that the fall armyworm that has destroyed African crops could spread to Europe.       



Ebola Crisis: Despite the WHO declaring the West Africa region Ebola-free two years ago, there is a new wave of cases, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo.



  General Interest News


beyonce got milk_


The successful "Got Milk?" ad phenomenon morphs into a "Got Jobs?" campaign by the dairy industry.

Farming Leads to Fortune (video): In this interview, the world's richest man says he learned his work ethic from his time spent on a cattle ranch as a kid.




Safety and Fun:  As a three-day weekend looms, this article provides tips for hosting a cookout in a public park.

Sunscreen in a Pill?
  The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to purchase alleged sun-protection supplements from four companies because they do not work.




Rural Infrastructure:  The USDA is investing $243 million in 50 rural community facility projectsin 22 states.

Agriculture Takes a Social Approach:  Farmers and ranchers across the globe are taking to social media to share their stories of raising food, fiber, and fuel to supply a growing population. Here is a list of more than 600 active bloggers.


CAST Information


YouTubeCheck out CAST's page at the YouTube site to view highly regarded ag-science videos about probiotics, food safety, and water issues--or the latest video dealing with proposed mandatory labeling of GMO food items.




CAST provides Friday Notes as a benefit to its members.  Please do not forward, edit, copy, or distribute the Notes in any form to nonmembers without the express permission of the CAST Executive Vice President Kent Schescke ( Instead, please encourage your colleagues to join CAST and thereby become eligible for all membership benefits. Contact Colleen Hamilton at 515-292-2125, ext. 224 or, or CLICK HERE for CAST membership information.


Societies, Companies, and Nonprofit Organizations

Serving on the CAST Board of Representatives


* Agricultural & Applied Economics Association


* American Association of Avian Pathologists

* American Association of Bovine Practitioners 

* American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy, & Resources-Agricultural Management   

* American Dairy Science Association 

* American Farm Bureau Federation 

* American Meat Science Association 

* American Meteorological Society, Committee on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
* American Seed Trade Association

* American Society for Nutrition Nutritional Sciences Council   

* American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
* American Society of Agronomy 

* American Society of Animal Science  

* American Society of Plant Biologists                                      world supported by plants and animals

* American Veterinary Medical Association

* Aquatic Plant Management Society
* BASF Corporation
* Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont  


* Croplife America 


* Crop Science Society of America                                                                      

* Entomological Society of America

* Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy
* Land O'Lakes                                  

* Monsanto
* National Corn Growers Association/Iowa Corn Promotion Board
* National Milk Producers Federation                                                                                       

* National Pork Board

* North Carolina Biotechnology Center      

* North Central Weed Science Society

* Northeastern Weed Science Society                             

* Poultry Science Association                                                   


* Society for In Vitro Biology
* Soil Science Society of America                         


* Syngenta Crop Protection

* The Fertilizer Institute
* Tyson Foods   

* United Soybean Board 

* Weed Science Society of America 

* Western Society of Weed Science


CAST assembles, interprets, and communicates credible, science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.  


Members of CAST's Education Program



* Cal Poly
* Cornell University
* Iowa State University 

* Kansas State University
* Mississippi State University     


* North Carolina State University  


* Texas A&M University College of Ag & Life Sciences  

* The Ohio State University  

* University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

* University of California-Davis   

* University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

* University of Kentucky  

* University of Nebraska Agricultural Research Division                                     

* University of Nevada-Reno College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources 



Note: WinField Solutions (Land O'Lakes) provides sponsorship for the distribution of

Friday Notes to the National Association of Agricultural Educators.

CAST Logo Jan 2010


Dan Gogerty (Managing Communications Editor) 


Kylie Peterson (Communications and Social Media Specialist)

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology

4420 West Lincoln Way

Ames, Iowa  50014-3447

Phone: 515-292-2125, ext. 222 (Dan) and 230 (Kylie)


**  With assistance from Carol Gostele (Managing Scientific Editor) 


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


Three Faculty-1.jpgLocated 45 miles southwest of Chicago, Illinois, Joliet Junior College has a booming agriculture program for postsecondary students looking to obtain an associate’s degree or lay the foundation they need to transfer to a four-year institution. With over 80 agriculture course offerings, students are able to find their niche in agriculture, while they also gain valuable employability skills.


The college itself was the first public community college in the United States. It created the first postsecondary agriculture transfer program in Illinois in 1954 and the first two-year career agriculture program in 1964. The Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences department at Joliet Junior College currently has eight full-time faculty members, three adjunct faculty members, and three support staff members.


A unique opportunity that the Joliet Junior College agriculture program offers its students is an extensive Supervised Occupational Experience (SOE) program, which places them in paid internships that help them to complete 15 percent of their applied science degrees. The program involves nearly 150 businesses each year to provide its students with employment opportunities for their SOE’s. As part of this experience, the students have to complete job interviews, work full-time in their positions, and receive an evaluation from their employer. The students are actually required to complete two separate SOE’s while they are enrolled in the program in order to obtain their applied science degrees.


opap1.jpgThe first SOE is a summer internship program that lasts 10-14 weeks after the students complete their second semester of classes. The students have a database of over 1,500 potential employers and internship opportunities to choose from. The placements span 38 states and four additional countries. Each business has an established relationship with the agriculture program at Joliet Junior College and is willing to work closely with the students and staff to make sure all requirements are met for the students to earn their degrees.


“We believe this is the most effective method for students to learn not only skills, but also the positive attitudes which will contribute to their success in the future,” said Bill Johnson, former Agriculture Production and Swine Management Advisor at Joliet Junior College.


The second SOE program occurs during the students’ final semester and lasts 10 weeks. Typically, this position is with the same employer as the first SOE and the requirements are exactly the same. The benefit to this second opportunity is that most students are offered full-time employment from their internship immediately following graduation. Since the implementation of the SOE program began in 1966, the placement of Joliet Junior College graduates in full-time positions has been nearly 100 percent.


opap2.jpgAs the agriculture industry continues to evolve, it is imperative that institutions like Joliet Junior College continue to grow and produce students who are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to be competent in the workforce. The school’s mission is to provide students the opportunity to develop academically, personally, and socially as they prepare for lifelong learning. It is for this reason, and through the SOE program offered at Joliet Junior College, that they were named the 2017 NAAE Region IV Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Agricultural Education Program award winner.


The Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Agricultural Education Program award is sponsored by Monsanto as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. For more information about this award category and to see the other regional award winners, follow this link.


NAAE would like to express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the faculty and staff at Joliet Junior College and close friends and family of Bill Johnson, for his recent passing. We appreciate all of his contributions to agricultural education. He will be greatly missed by all.

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


Turkey Creek Middle School
Plant City, Florida
2017 NAAE Region V Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education Program Award Recipient


PhotoStudentOrganizations.jpegIf you have ever visited the Plant City area of Florida, you know strawberries play a vital role in the community. Each spring, the city hosts the Florida Strawberry Festival, which includes carnival rides, contests, concerts, and many other activities and events to celebrate the year’s strawberry harvest in Eastern Hillsborough County.


Located in the heart of strawberry country is Turkey Creek Middle School. Originally a “Strawberry School,” which closed for three months each spring for strawberry picking season, the middle school’s agriculture program has integrated the community and school’s rich and deeply-rooted history to feature a very unique learning environment for its students.


Turkey Creek Middle School has two agriculture teachers, Buddy Coleman and Allison Sparkman. Together, they are able to reach 230 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students through their program’s Strawberry Project. Coleman and Sparkman coordinate with local farmers and the community to provide their students with classroom and land laboratory experiences to learn about the cultivation of strawberries. The program is able to grow and harvest two acres of strawberries each year – providing students the opportunity to learn about strawberry farming from start to finish. 



Coleman and Sparkman are able to use the Strawberry Project to teach students about modern agricultural practices in a hands-on setting. The students learn about drip irrigation and plastic mulch in the fall, as they form the strawberry beds and prepare the land for strawberries. The students are also introduced to GPS technology, as they set straight rows for their crop and plant their strawberries. Along the way, they also learn about plant structure, strawberry varieties, proper planting procedures, the impact of fertilizers, pest and invasive species management, and a host of other things that directly impact strawberries and other crops.


“If we can enable every child that we teach to think and act independently, then the students will be prepared to finish their education and become productive members of society,” said Sparkman.


PhotoPartnerships.jpgIn addition to the students learning about strawberry farming, they are also able to showcase what they have learned to the local community and to other students. Each year, the program hosts local kindergarten students for a field day, full of experiential learning. The students at Turkey Creek show the kindergarteners how to pick their own strawberries, identify plant parts, and discuss the impact of insects, weeds and diseases on the strawberry crop.


Each of our agriculture programs has a unique feature. It is essential that, as educators, we provide our students the opportunity to experience and engage in agriculture in the context of our local communities. What is your Strawberry Project?


Turkey Creek Middle School is the 2017 NAAE Region V Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education Program award recipient. For more information about this award category and to see the other award winners, follow this link.


The Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education program award is partially sponsored by Monsanto as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.


A Message from our Partners, as part of News & Views:



Monsanto has been a long-time supporter of the National FFA Organization and we are proud to continue sponsorship of the DEKALB Agricultural Accomplishment Award in 2018. The DEKALB Ag Accomplishment Award showcases the abilities of outstanding agriculture students and is presented annually to one FFA student per chapter, who exemplifies scholarship, commitment and work ethic.

DEKALB is pleased to recognize these select students for their hard work, dedication and passion for pursuing a fulfilling career in agriculture. These students demonstrate promising young talent and are the rising stars of agriculture. Students can be nominated to receive this award by their FFA advisors beginning March 1st at DEKALB AgAccomplishment Award.


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



Our students learn by doing. Hands-on classroom experiences are what set our agriculture programs apart from core content classes and keep our students coming back for more.  For Tamara Whitcomb, agriculture teacher at Mount Baker High School, in Deming, Washington, providing students with experiential learning both in and out of the classroom is a crucial component of her program, as it contributes to the development of life and employability skills that will help her students succeed after high school.


Whitcomb has developed a comprehensive plant biology course which her students can take to fulfill a science credit at Mount. Baker. Students in this class gain vast knowledge and experiences with greenhouse management, plant anatomy, pest management, soil and fertilizer application, plant propagation, and landscaping. The skills they learn in each of these areas allow them to conduct a variety of vegetable research projects in the greenhouse, modify and maintain the school’s landscaping, and grow tomatoes that are harvested and used in the high school cafeteria’s menu.


After rigorous training in plant biology, Whitcomb’s students are able to take her ornamental horticu

lture class. This course is designed to transform the knowledge her students gain in plant biology into valuable life and employability skills. In this course, the students grow, manage, market, and sell the flowers, vegetables, and herbs for the annual Mount Baker spring plant sale. In addition to this, the students also maintain the school’s one-acre orchard. The orchard has a variety of apple, pear, plum, and cherry trees, as well as raspberry and blueberry crops. Since Whatcomb County is one of the nation’s leading raspberry and blueberry producers, it is essential that Whitcomb’s students learn the skills necessary for proper berry production. PhotoExperientialLearning3.jpg


Whitcomb developed her plant science curriculum because she saw the value and need for plant production skills and knowledge in her community. It is for this reason, she was named the 2017 NAAE Region I Outstanding Teacher of the Year award winner. This award program recognizes NAAE members who are at the pinnacle of their profession — those who are conducting the highest quality agricultural education programs. The award recognizes leadership in civic, community, agriculture/agribusiness and professional activities. Outstanding agricultural educators are innovators and catalysts for student success in agricultural education. Follow this link for more information about the award category, pictures, and press releases of all our outstanding teacher regional award winners at the 2017 NAAE Convention.


The Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher Award is sponsored by Caterpillar, Inc. and Tractor Supply Company as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

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



NAAE regional conferences will be here before we know it! If you are looking for a great way to network with other ag teachers in your area, receive some new and exciting professional development and resources, and find out what is going on at the regional and national levels of NAAE, make sure to register for your region’s conference.


The tours, trainings, meetings, and networking opportunities provide ag teachers with knowledge and experiences they can take back to their classrooms to enhance their lessons. Ag teachers are encouraged to bring along their families to regional conferences, so there are no worries about missing family time for yet another conference.


NAAE regional conferences are also a great way for you to represent your state association and help lead our organization. Talk to your regional vice president about becoming more involved in the leadership of NAAE – from committees to the board of directors, there is a place for you!





Here are the dates, locations, and links for each region’s respective conference:

Region IRegion IIRegion IIIRegion IVRegion VRegion VI

April 25-28

Cedar City, Utah

June 18-21

Fort Collins, Colorado

June 18-20

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

June 26-28

Kansas City, Missouri

June 25-27

Asheville, North Carolina

July 9-12

Dover, Pennsylvania


Make sure to register for your regional conference as soon as possible. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to engage with other ag teachers and take new and exciting information back to your program!

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


HeadShot.jpgCameron Dale
2017 NAAE Region II Outstanding Young Member Award Winner
Elgin High School
Elgin, OK


In the rural community of Elgin, Oklahoma, the agriculture program continues to grow and thrive with over 150 students enrolled. The three-teacher department focuses on agricultural education’s three-circle model of instruction, in order to help its students achieve their goals and aspirations in an agricultural context.


Since 2013, Cameron Dale has provided the students at Elgin High School the opportunity to learn beyond the walls of her classroom through hands-on and interactive experiences. Her dedication to teaching her students valuable life skills in order to prepare them for their future careers is why she was named the 2017 NAAE Region II Outstanding Young Member.


“As an agriculture teacher, my ultimate goal is to produce educated consumers that can critically think and solve problems,” said Dale. “I believe that students should learn something new in my classroom every day that can be applied to their future educational and career endeavors.”



Dale wants to ensure that her students develop soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and work ethic, that they can transfer to their future careers, so she takes every opportunity she can to teach. Whether in the school garden, at a livestock show, or on the way to a career development event, she uses every chance she can to help her students learn and grow through agricultural education.


“Linking real-life experiences to student learning is the foundation of my instruction,” added Dale.


Hands-on experiences are a critical part of Dale’s classroom and instruction. In her Agricultural Explorations class, she has her students conduct a research project by making ice cream. The students use a website resource available through the National Center for Education Statistics to graph their data and draw their conclusions. She also takes her students to the school farm to assess animal health and apply the skills they learn in the classroom to the program’s livestock. Dale also uses hydroponic systems and garden beds to teach her students about horticulture and even has the students care for and manage three breeds of composting worms.



By providing students with a real-life context for their learning, agriculture teachers are able to teach beyond the walls of their classrooms. When students are able to understand that what they learn at school has tangible value that they can use in their daily lives, they are more engaged in their learning.


How will you help reach students beyond the walls of your classroom?


The Outstanding Young Member Award is a means of encouraging young teachers to remain in the profession and to recognize their participation in professional activities. This program is sponsored by John Deere as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.



Follow this link for more information about the Outstanding Young Member award category and to see the other regional award winners.

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


As a member of a professional organization, it is important to know your benefits. From professional liability insurance to discounts on hotels, there are a multitude of resources and opportunities that you are able to take advantage of.


One of the best benefits you can receive from your NAAE membership is professional development. NAAE provides its members with professional development opportunities catered specifically to agriculture teachers. Whether you are a preservice teacher, or have been in the profession for over 30 years, there is something for you. DSC_0006.JPG


Here are just a few professional development highlights you may want to consider adding to your schedule this year:


  • NAAE Virtual Book Club
    Personalize your professional development with the NAAE Virtual book club and earn professional development credit or CEU's during the summer. Each year a new book is selected and teachers are able to work at their own pace to read the book and complete the required assignments and activities on Communities of Practice.
  • Farmer to Farmer Program in East Africa
    Volunteer to work in East Africa through the Farmer-to-Farmer project – an NAAE partnership with CRS. Expertise in agricultural education is needed as you will focus your time on helping to develop the agriculture sector in East Africa.
  • Learning Sessions at NAAE Convention
    Three days of professional development workshops covering topics important to agricultural educators. Choose from more than 60 workshops, ranging from deep-dive sessions to idea labs. Network with your peers as you discover new and innovative classroom ideas, techniques and approaches that can help grow your program.
  • Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE)
    DSC_0103.JPGMore than just curriculum, CASE is a system of instructional support for the classroom teacher that also includes professional development, assessment and certification. Learn how to enhance the science of agriculture through inquiry-based classroom and laboratory experiences, which will take your students’ learning to the next level.
  • Workshops for Preservice Teachers
    Pre-service teachers are invited to participate in all NAAE workshops, but special programming is available during Teachers’ World at National FFA Convention and through other special preservice programs. From the Future Agriscience Teacher (FAST) Symposium at National Teach Ag Day and NAAE Convention, to the National Agriscience Preservice Teacher Program at National FFA Convention, we offer specialized professional development for our future teachers to help them begin their careers.


Whether you are looking for a distance-learning approach to professional development, or would like to travel across the globe to fully immerse yourself in agriculture, NAAE has something for you. If you would like more information about any of these professional development opportunities, or for a full listing of all our professional development offerings, follow this link.


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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


SaraBeth Fulton

2017 NAAE Region VI National Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award Winner
Big Spring High School
Newville, PA


HeadShot.jpgStudents often gravitate toward our programs because of the hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that are offered. We pride ourselves in providing students the chance to learn by doing.


For SaraBeth Fulton, agriculture teacher at Big Spring High School, in Newville, Pennsylvania, her program takes the appealing, interactive curriculum of agriculture a step further by offering additional certifications and credits in science.     


The agriculture program at Big Spring High School currently offers 17 different courses to over 240 students. The course offerings are organized into three career pathways, which involve five out of the 10 competencies offered by the school. From there, five of the courses fulfill science credits and high school graduation requirements, two courses offer dual-credits through the local community college, there are two CASE courses offered, along with one AP College Board course, and the program also offers five different industry certifications.


With that many different opportunities for students to achieve and receive multiple recognitions and credits, it is no wonder the agriculture program’s class request list has over 600 students.


During her tenure at Big Spring High School, Fulton has made it a priority to enhance the science of agriculture in the program’s curriculum.


PhotoInstruction.jpg“Over the past 13 years, I have continually updated materials and added new laboratory experiences to all of my courses,” said Fulton. “In connecting with the national Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) standards, I have incorporated science-based laboratories in all of my classes in order to expand and relate previous knowledge taught in the science department to real-world applications.”


Through her hard work, Fulton has been able to establish a great relationship between Big Spring and the Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), so that her students are able to receive dual-credits in horticulture. Big Spring’s agriculture program was the first in Pennsylvania to offer a dual-credit course in conjunction with HACC, and has since served as a resource and stepping stone for other programs in the state to follow.


Fulton not only sees the importance and value of enhancing the science in agriculture, but also the importance and value of providing her students with the opportunities and resources to enhance the efficiency of their high school educational experiences. As agriculture teachers, offering those extra benefits are excellent ways to market our programs and show the value of agricultural education.


SaraBeth Fulton is the 2017 NAAE Region VI National Agriscience Teacher of the Year award recipient. This award category is sponsored by Herman and Bobbie Wilson as a special project of the Natioinal FFA Foundation. For more information about the National Agriscience Teacher of the Year award category and to see the rest of the 2017 recipients, follow this link.


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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.


npslogo.pngEach spring, career and technical educators have the opportunity to advocate for their profession through ACTE’s National Policy Seminar. During this annual event, agricultural education has its own track for agriculture teachers to attend and use as an opportunity to advocate for their programs and careers.


This year’s event will take place March 5-7 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, in Arlington, Virginia.


Here is what you can expect as an attendee of the National Policy Seminar:

  • Learn how to craft and communicate your CTE message, programming priorities, and local education needs to your policymakers.
  • Engage your members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill to advance local and national CTE policy initiatives.
  • Hear the latest information on Perkins reauthorization, funding opportunities, and CTE-related legislation.
  • Benefit from a half-day special focus on improving the image of CTE through public awareness and local advocacy.


As a NAAE member, there are additional opportunities and benefits, which include:

  • NAAE will cover the registration for one representative per state. This registration must be received by the NAAE office by Monday, February 5th. The registration form can be found here:
    • ACTE Early Bird Registration Rate ends February 2nd. Rates for ACTE members are $385, non-members is $405. A complete rate list can be found here:
    • 10% Group Discount: When you register five or more individuals from the same institution, you can receive a 10 percent group discount. Please note: Group discount does not apply to the student rate, as this is already a discounted rate.
  • NAAE has a hotel block at the Crowne Plaza National Airport for $162/night plus tax. Rooms can be reserved through this link: Payment will be accepted upon check in for the reservation. Reservations need to be made by Monday, February 5th. Any reservations made after this cannot be guaranteed at the group rate. This is not the hotel that NPS will be held. NPS will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott for a rate of $259/night plus tax. Those reservations can be made here:
  • NAAE will hold special programming that is agriculture specific Monday, March 5th from 11:30 am- 12:30 pm.
  • NAAE and FFA will co-host a luncheon on Monday March 5th from 12:30-1:45pm.


Follow this link for more information about the National Policy Seminar with Agricultural Education Track.

This is an article from the November 2017 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.


HeadShot.jpgEvery agriculture teacher has a unique story to tell about the beginning of his or her teaching career. Some are fortunate to have the opportunity to walk into a well-established, multi-teacher department, with excellent administrative and community support. Oftentimes though, new agriculture teachers have to take a struggling program and build it into something that the students, administration and community value. Such is the case for Tyler Johnson, agriculture teacher at Murtaugh High School, in Murtaugh, Idaho.


Johnson became the agriculture teacher at Murtaugh High School in 2014. He was initially faced with a struggling agriculture program and lack of student and community interest. Through the development of a program vision, community partnerships, and allowing his students to take ownership in their program’s facilities, Johnson has been able to establish the Murtaugh agriculture program as a valuable part of the school and community.


“My philosophy of education is simple – guide students to realize that all their goals and aspirations are obtainable,” said Johnson.


Johnson’s initial focus at Murtaugh High School, which perfectly aligned with his teaching philosophy, was to build a new facility. Over the course of the last two years, he and his students have worked together to build a new classroom and welding shop, along with a new greenhouse.


“Building our new facilities turned into a great learning opportunity for my students and me,” said Johnson. “As we went through the process, there were many different tasks to accomplish, so I took each class and adapted the tasks at hand to the content objectives.”johnson.jpg


Johnson began with the construction of a new classroom and welding shop. His students completed every aspect of the project from design, to framing and fabrication. After the completion of the classroom and shop, Johnson and his students turned their attention to designing and building their new greenhouse.


“My greenhouse and plant science classes designed the greenhouse, while my intro to mechanics class had the opportunity to do all of the ground work, concrete framing, layout, and pouring,” said Johnson. “I cannot imagine a better opportunity for my students to learn than by walking through the whole process from start to finish, and then being able to call the facilities our own when the projects were completed.”


Through the construction of the new facilities, Johnson has been able to develop many new and beneficial relationships within the community and state of Idaho. The program has received advice and financial support from Community Builders, Key Ag Distributors, Twin Falls Animal Health Vet Supply Company, and the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. All of these relationships, along with the development of a strong advisory board will allow the agriculture program to continue to grow and prosper.


“Moving forward, there are many projects left to complete in the Murtaugh ag program before we meet all of our facility goals,” said Johnson. “Now that we have been through the process, I know it can be a great experience to have the students involved with.”


The Teachers Turn the Key scholarship program is sponsored by RAM Trucks, as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. For more information about the program and to see additional winners, follow this link.


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This is an article from the October 2017 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.


Matt Chaliff.pngAs much as we would like to see every agriculture teacher stay in the classroom until they retire after a lengthy and fulfilling career, for many, a career change often leads to greater opportunity within agricultural education. So is the case for Matt Chaliff, Agricultural Education Program Consultant and FFA Executive Secretary for the state of Kentucky.


Chaliff was an agriculture teacher in Kentucky, at Taylor County High School for four years, where he saw great program success. However, in 2004 another door opened for Chaliff to develop his full potential as a leader in agricultural education for the state. His accomplishments at the Kentucky Department of Education are the reason he was selected as the 2016 NAAE Region IV Outstanding Service Citation award recipient.


During his tenure in the Office of Career and Technical Education, Chaliff has led the expansion of new SAE resources for teachers, redesign of Kentucky's Principles of Agriculture course, and the development of agribusiness career pathway standards.

Agriscience Fair 15.jpg


Chaliff also values the importance of professional development for Kentucky agriculture teachers. Each year, he coordinates the summer teachers’ conference and winter professional development session. He also teaches a workshop for new agriculture teachers and has been heavily involved in the recent development of the Kentucky Master Agriculture Teacher Program. This program is designed to help agriculture teachers in their fifth to fifteenth years as they grow professionally.



Although Chaliff could have stayed in the classroom, the agriculture teachers in Kentucky are certainly thankful for his willingness to shift careers. Without his leadership within the state, agricultural education would not have grown by the leaps and bounds that it has, which is a benefit for both agriculture teachers and students in Kentucky.



NAAE recognizes current and retired NAAE members who have made significant contributions to agricultural education at the state, regional, and national levels with the Outstanding Service Citation. This program is sponsored by Goodheart-Wilcox. For more information about the Outstanding Service Citation award and to see the other regional winners, follow this link.


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When Ashley Holden saw a message on the U.S. Ag Ed listserv about the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program, her interest was immediately piqued.


After perusing their website, she realized she had a unique perspective to share. “I saw a lot of history and math teachers, a few science teachers, a few CTE educators, but nothing really tied to agriculture,” she said.


She decided to apply. She describes the application process as taking some time, but not overwhelming, and in In April, Holden was selected for the 2018 award. She will spend January through June of next year in the Netherlands conducting research related to best practices in agricultural education.


“As teachers, we all want to do better,” she said. “In my own experience, we’re not doing a great job of prepping kids for the next step after high school.”


Holden, an animal science teacher at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton, Massachusetts, felt she didn’t have a lot of resources to help students find careers or postsecondary educational opportunities in that field.


“When I was researching this opportunity, I was thinking about how well-prepared students from the Netherlands are, and how different their schools are,” she said.


While she’s in the Netherlands, Holden will learn what agricultural education is like by visiting classrooms, teacher preparation programs, policy makers, and agriculture producers. She’ll also have the opportunity to review academic research that has helped form the Dutch system for agricultural education.


More immediately, the opportunity has already encouraged Holden to start making her own students more aware of international opportunities for themselves. “I want students to expand their horizons,” she said, “to see other opportunities besides college and jobs.”


As for taking six months away from her teaching job at Smith, Holden said her administration was supportive. “I prepared my application and presented it to my principal, explained the opportunity and asked if it was something he could sign off on,” she said. “He was really excited, especially since the Fulbright name was attached.”


Fulbright covers the travel and living expenses for award recipients, and even allows for a family stipend if participants choose to take their spouse or family. Holden’s husband, a science teacher, plans to move to the Netherlands with her, and they even are thinking about starting a podcast to share their experiences in real time.


Although she’s still exploring exactly what the end result of her research will look like, Holden knows she wants to come away from the experience with a solid set of resources she can share with other agriculture teachers in the U.S.


In addition, a better understanding of how to prepare agriculture students for their next steps after high school, coupled with her status as an alumnus of the Fulbright program, may give her opportunities to help influence policy makers or other administrators in supporting students.