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6 Posts authored by: Farrah Johnson
Farrah Johnson

Who's Excited??

Posted by Farrah Johnson Oct 1, 2013

While I am writing this, I am looking forward to participating in National Teach Ag Day. I'm sure by the time this is printed, we will have all sorts of amazing stories to share from Teach Ag Day. Whether you have grand plans or simply tell your students that agricultural education is a viable career option and we NEED good teachers out there, I hope your Teach Ag Day Rocks!! Please share your ideas and photos of Teach Ag Day. I know there is a lot of traffic through social media and it is exciting to see the response and knowledge of National Teach Ag Day grow!

Who is excited about the 86th National FFA Convention in Louisville. Kentucky? Although we have not completely finished our agenda for the week long National Convention, I already know it will be packed with amazing opportunities for my students. Cool and exciting tours that will be talked about all year are just one of my favorite things about convention: the keynote speakers, the career show, the retiring addresses of our national officers, and of course the shopping adventures are all reasons to look forward to this trip. I know many of you may be putting in last minute practices getting ready for competitions or reprinting pictures for those agriscience boards. Some are planning their trip for the collegiate students and getting all their giveaways for the career show stocked up. Whatever your plans for the 86th National FFA Convention, I hope you have a remarkable trip filled with opportunities.


Just like state and national conventions always energize myself and my officer team, I can not help to reflect that this upcoming NAAE convention will be my last time in office. The amazing professional development opportunities that are offered at NAAE convention are truly the best around. I get so excited to meet our award winners and hear their testimonies of what works in their programs across the county. Although I am often envious of the facilities or funding some schools receive, I can always take back a thought or idea to my program and my chapter to make us better. Have you ever stopped to think about what do you do to help rejuvenate yourself in your profession? Have you ever considered attending the NAAE convention? I understand that funding is not always a given and that sometimes it is difficult to ask for time for yourself when we typically miss a lot of time out of our classrooms for our student organizations. But I still encourage you to ask! I can honestly say that the NAAE convention is like a family reunion mixed with a new social because I always get to see and visit with familiar faces while meeting new people from around the country. Some of my favorite stories to come back and share with my students what is happening in agriculture, agriculture education and classrooms from all different types of programs. My family is always amazed that I can talk about friends from across the nation, no matter what college football team they cheer for! (ha-ha)


All joking aside, if you have not attended a national conference, or haven't been in several years, I encourage you to consider it. We have made some changes in the organization and presentation of the conference and I hope it makes for a better professional experience for you. There are opportunities for social gatherings, including the popular growing network reception. There are chances to hear how programs and teachers work to be successful  as well as meet our organizational members and conference sponsors. Some of the best professional development I have ever attended has been at the NAAE conference. And if you haven't heard, or happen to be a rodeo fan, there is a fantastic location during the NFR in Las Vegas! If Vegas isn't your style, then perhaps Nashville or New Orleans will be in upcoming years!


     While talking about the NAAE convention, I just want to take an opportunity to say thank you. I want to thank you for the amazing opportunities I have experienced and been a part of during my 6 years of working with NAAE on a national level. I am humbled by your dedication and innovative ideas. I am honored to have represented this profession and hope that I have in some way helped you or encouraged you to continue in this career. I know I do not have all the answers. In fact, there are several of you out there that I have on speed dial. I am still a firm believer that we must mentor and encourage our young teachers. We have to be willing to share and work together.  We must work together and help each other, in our classrooms as well as with our total program. If we are going to be relevant,  we must embrace literacy and mathematics in our classroom. We must be team players and work with academic partners to help our students. We must be willing to make a difference. Thank you for what you do every day! I am an agricultural educator by choice, not by chance.

First, I just want to say, WOW! I am humbled by the energy and willingness to help agricultural education and our programs succeed that I felt from the National FFA Alumni Development Conference in Green Bay Wisconsin. How exciting to see their focus on what they can do to help with teacher recruitment and retention issues that we are facing in agricultural education. The NAAE Board and the Alumni Council are moving forward to strengthen our forces and we look into collaborating on joint Regional Conferences in the future. Be on the lookout for exciting news on this venture! Many thanks to the Wisconsin FFA Alumni members who put together fantastic tours and experiences for the attendees!

I was honored to attend the Region I, III and IV conferences this year. I know Kevin and I enjoyed meeting teachers and agricultural educators across the country this spring and summer. I want to say thank you to all of the state leaders and volunteers who put together these outstanding conferences. It is such a joy to learn about agriculture across this nation, but also to talk and see what people do in their regions and programs. I know all of the attendees appreciate the many hours of organization it took for these conferences to be a success. THANK YOU!!

     Thanks to the many who traveled to regional conferences to share what is going on in your states, work on committees and judge applications. We are also looking into new and innovative ways to have applications submitted and judged as well as broadening our committee work beyond the conferences. We hope some of these changes will enable more individuals to become involved with the work of NAAE and help strengthen our organization.

Even though I know each state has its own way of doing business, many times individuals become involved in leadership roles because they were asked to do so. It seems that in many states filling committee responsibilities, area or district representative spots, and even state association officer spots is becoming a difficult task. So, I am asking each and every one of you to consider stepping up to a commitment in your professional organization. Whether on the local, state or national level, we need committed leaders who will work to strengthen agricultural education. There are many ways in which to get involved. I encourage you to look into the many opportunities and decide what is the best role for you. The time is now if we are going to move forward. Please be a part of movement, because as they say, "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."


It was exciting to hear that NAAE received over 250 submissions for presentations for the 2013 NAAE Convention. Although I am sure the draw of Las Vegas might have been part of the attraction, I hope anyone not selected will consider presenting their workshop at their state and regional conferences. I am looking forward to see how some of our changes work out for the NAAE Convention. Our staff has done an excellent job of taking the concerns and comments of our participants and views of the board to offer an amazing conference for you to attend. Yes, it is bittersweet to think that the end of my term is getting near, but I have been so fortunate to do so much and meet so many of you while in this position, again I am humbled.


I am thrilled to say I am officially a "Teacher of Teachers," as two of my former students have accepted teaching positions in the state of Florida. I know my role as a mentor and guiding force is truly just beginning and I can't wait to see what Nyssa and Sarah accomplish! So as we begin the transition of summer camps, professional development conferences, county fairs, back to school shopping, officer meetings, and competition team practices, if given the opportunity to be a role model and mentor to someone new to our profession, please lend a helping hand. If you are new to the profession, please be willing to ask for help and willingly take the advice given. Some of the best advice I've ever been given has been by my peers willing to share.


     My last thoughts are that I can not wait to see what all you have planned for National Teach Ag Day!! September 26th will be here before you know it! Whether it is a large activity, getting your students presenting or sharing your story with your students and encouraging them to join this awesome profession, I hope everyone will take part in National Teach Ag Day. If everyone in agricultural education works together to promote National Teach Ag Day, it will be unbelievable what results can happen. It is my hope that through recruitment and retention efforts, in just a few years we will no longer have a critical shortage of agriculture teachers. More programs can open and we can work towards all middle schools, high schools, community colleges and universities offering agriculture classes! Just imagine the possibilities!


If you are unsure what your role can be in National Teach Ag Day, check out the website - for new and exciting activities to share with your students. Thank you for what you do. I know we don't hear it enough. Thanks, thanks and many thanks for what you do for agricultural education. I am an Agricultural Educator by choice and not by chance!!.

Farrah Johnson

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Posted by Farrah Johnson May 30, 2013

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

These words by Robert Frost came to me today as I've been viewing the damage of the deadly tornadoes that have struck Oklahoma. I remember first hearing this poem in SE Hinton's "The Outsiders" when I was a teenager. I remember thinking how unfair that people were judged by their friends and how much money they have. Unfortunately I think a lot of that still remains in our school today... but that may be an article for another day. However, I have always loved this poem and somehow it has always brought a peaceful resolve for me, so I hope you enjoy it as well!

I'm not sure if we have any NAAE members or agriculture programs affected by these storms, but I do know that America is once again suffering from tragic events. My heart and prayers go out to people that I do not know and probably will never meet. I have experienced hurricane damages but can barely imagine what some people are dealing with right now. I know that we have Americans who have lost everything ? their homes, family members, businesses, schools... everything. It amazes me, though, the kindred human spirit and the sense that these communities will rebuild and people will work together to overcome this tragedy. I was feeling very discouraged earlier and did what I normally do (call me a nerd... that's ok!): I googled quotes about hope. I want to share one that really jumped out at me:

"Yesterday is but a dream, Tomorrow is only a vision. But today, well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope." ? Kalidasa

Now, many of us may already be, or are soon to be in "it's the end of school" mode!!! I am wrapping up with final welding projects, demonstrations, presentations and industry certifications. Whew! Unlike a lot of faculty on our campuses, for most of us in agricultural education, "summer" does not equate to "vacation" exactly. Now I hope each of you can take some time and enjoy a vacation (Florida is a great place to visit for beaches or Disney!!), but I know many of us will spend time at work. We plan conventions, conferences, retreats, fairs, weigh-ins, SAE visits, barn work days and more during the summer months. Although it's a different pace, some of us may even work harder in the summer with all the road trips and hoopla that we plan to squeeze into 60 days.

I hope many of you are making plans to attend your respective regional NAAE conference. I know state leaders have been diligently working to have successful regional conferences, and I am thankful for all this hard work and time. I am excited to visit states and regions I haven't seen before. As a person who can jam too many things into one summer, I understand the desire to attend as many conferences and meetings as possible. We constantly want to improve ourselves and our teaching; that's just the way we are. I am very excited to see how all of the CASE Institutes and summer trainings go.

Still, I do want to encourage you to take a little time for yourself this summer. Yesterday I was given a book entitled "Meditation for Women Who Do Too Much." Some people might take offense to that, but honestly I thought it was a very thoughtful idea. I hope to take some time and read through the entries this summer. Folks, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Burnout is by definition what happens when you are burning the candle from all ends. I hope you will take some time to enjoy the "summer break." I look forward to meeting Region III and IV conference participants. Enjoy your time. Eat some ice cream and grill out! Have a wonderful summer!

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Farrah Johnson

Love the Life you Live

Posted by Farrah Johnson Mar 23, 2013

Greetings and Happy Spring!


I hope this finds everyone doing well. I know weather conditions vary all across the country, but we are certainly feeling spring weather down in central Florida. I think my students went from hoodies to shorts in a matter of days this year.

Each year at our winter meeting, our board takes a look at all comments and activity ratings from the NAAE Convention and uses those to make improvements in next year's convention. For instance, you may have noticed that the 2012 convention had fewer workshops within each time period, as requested by many. This year, we noticed that transportation between the NAAE site and the ACTE sessions and Career Tech Expo was a concern. Please know that for the next three conventions, transportation will not be an issue, and we will continue to keep ease of movement in mind as we plan further into the future.  Thank you to the members who took time to complete the evaluation and provide the board with valuable feedback.

Another important item of business the board addressed was the approval to use money from NAAE reserves to create a new website. This will be a lengthy process, but our board felt that we can provide better communication and member opportunities if we have a more interactive website. More information will be forthcoming, but the website will integrate online payment acceptance, membership management, roster submission and more. The opening of new website is still up to a year away, but we feel the numerous upgrades will benefit our membership.

You may also find some changes taking place at your regional conference. We are looking into better ways of scoring award applications as well as presenting an advocacy workshop at each conference. Speaking of regional conferences, I am looking forward to the opportunity to spend time in Regions I, III and IV. I'm excited to meet members and continue to see how each region has its own culture and way of conducting conference. Our president-elect, Kevin Stacy, will have the opportunity to participate in Regions II, V and VI conferences this year.

In March we had 55 registered participants take place in ACTE's National Policy Seminar and the Ag Ed strand organized by NAAE. Although many of our group stayed in DC longer than originally planned because of weather, I think this event was a great success. I want to thank Savannah Robin, NAAE's meeting planner and advocacy coordinator, for conducting mock meetings that really helped members plan for their visits on the hill. Although financial discussions are often dismal, it is important that we continue to take time to build relationships and advocate for Career and Technical Education and Agricultural Education.

I recently read a quote; "We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are." I think this fits our profession and membership. With the ever changing requirements and needs of education, we cannot stay still. We must be willing to make changes and move forward. If you have never made contact and established a relationship with your congressmen and senators on the federal and state levels, I challenge you to introduce yourself and share a story about your agricultural education program. Invite your legislators to a banquet, community event or open house for your program.  It is said all the time that "this is not your grandfather's agriculture" prove it! No one can better advocate for YOUR program than YOU! Need help getting started? Check out the advocacy tools located on the NAAE website.

Remember- love the life you live! You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
                                -Mae West


     I had a thrilling moment today when a former student told me that she is considering teaching agriculture and switching majors from Elementary Education. Of course I said it was an awesome idea as we are in need of great ag teachers and I know that she will be GREAT! This potential ag ed major after such great workshops, sessions and discussions at The Council's Agricultural Education Summit last week, and I couldn't be more excited. Top it off with the RAM Super Bowl commercial and the celebration of the American farmer and I am practically on cloud nine! What an amazing time to be involved in agricultural education!


     The focus of the 2013 Ag Ed Summit was recruitment and retention for school based agricultural education. I must thank Tony Small, Ellen Thompson and The Council for putting together such a great line up of speakers, panels and opportunities to discuss this issue within the profession. Thank you to everyone who participated in a panel, presentation or gave remarks.  The enthusiasm and passion was so evident as our colleagues shared  their stories, ideas and opinions. If you were unable to attend or connect live, I encourage you to access the sessions through The Council homepage. There were so many ideas shared that I have pages and pages of notes from the jam packed two days. Of course for this Floridian it was cool to see snow flurries and it is always entertaining to discuss weather and what so many of you are experiencing this winter. By the way, it is in the 60s at night and will be 80 tomorrow during the day. It just doesn't seem right now does it?


     I know many are gearing up for National FFA Week activities and it may feel odd to not be planning National Teach Ag day festivities as well. So I ask, why wait for Teach Ag Day to promote our profession? There is no need! We can celebrate our profession and encourage our students to consider agricultural education as a viable and exciting profession! If your campus is like mine, students are already looking toward class selection for next school year. I am sure academic advisors are discussing summer classes and fall selections in the near future. Students are making decisions about their future, so why not have a conversation with a few students who you think would make GREAT ag teachers! it was exciting to hear of the state movements for Teach Ag workshops, trainings and competitions last week. If your state association is not currently offering activities for students, check out the Teach Ag website.


     I also know that many are deep in student State and American Degree applications, proficiency applications, career development event competitions and on and on..... I know it is easy to push and push our students towards award recognitions and achievements. It is more challenging sometimes to recognize our own achievements. I know each state association has their own deadlines and processes for NAAE Award Applications. I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to complete award applications and receive the recognition you deserve. We work hard! So many members qualify for outstanding award recognition and never complete the application. Sometimes it is difficult to write about our achievements, but I encourage you to take a look and take a chance, We push our students and members to strive for excellence and I wish the same for each of you. In addition, I challenge you to look at your state ACTE process and award applications. We are honored to have several agricultural educators win ACTE award categories this past year and I know we can have quality candidates again.


     My last thought I want to share was another point of discussion at the Summit. Folks, we can and will run ourselves ragged to push towards excellence. We can not do it all. Many new teachers leave our profession due to the overwhelming stresses and commitments we find ourselves in. Take advantage of resources, community members, and Alumni to help make your lives easier. We must take time to have a hobby, spend time with family, do fun things, and enjoy life. if you don't already have something planned for you-  I challenge you to do something FUN for YOURSELF this month! Thanks for what YOU do..... and lets TAG an ag teacher!

I first want to start by saying thank you. I am blessed beyond belief to have this opportunity to represent you and work on behalf of NAAE. I must say, we as an organization are blessed to have an outstanding staff who works tirelessly on our behalf. Their innovative and creative ideas have kept NAAE moving forward over the last several years. We are also blessed to have an awesome and dedicated board of directors who volunteer their time to work for our organization and communicate with state leaders and members on a regular basis.  I am looking forward to working with these outstanding leaders this next year.


I would like to thank everyone who was involved with the 2012 NAAE Convention in Atlanta. We had fantastic professional development, great networking opportunities and efficiently handled business. We truly had the opportunity to rise with rigor and relevance at our convention. I attended several awesome workshops and have already integrated a few of the things I learned into my curriculum at school. I know our convention would not be possible without our organizational members, business partners and convention sponsors. Thank you for your commitment to NAAE and to agricultural education. Without the support of these partners, we would not be able to offer the outstanding convention to our members.  I would like to thank Ken Couture for his leadership, vision and guidance he has provided not only for our board of directors but for NAAE and agricultural education.


With the holiday season, I have spent a lot of time counting my blessings and reflecting on a lot of decisions for the new year. No matter your religious beliefs, I hope you have had the opportunity for rest, relaxation and to spend time with the ones you love.  I do not wish to dwell on the tragic events that have taken place in our country recently, but I do know that many are hurting and I hope for healing hearts and some sort of peaceful closure for everyone.


Many feel that 13 is an unlucky number, and so for some moving into 2013 may leave a sense of dread or uncertainly. Personally, 13 has always been my lucky number. Not only was I born on Friday the 13th (which to some of you reading this may think that explains a lot!) but I won my first FFA contest when I was 13 and my brother was born when I was 13. Instead of looking into 2013 with a gloomy outlook, I can only hope that you, like me, are excited about the opportunities to come. I know we have a lot questions that are not answered whether about funding, standards, testing or Common Core.


Here is what I know- Agricultural Educators are creative, innovative, resourceful, crafty and have a phenomenal network of helping others in our field.  Do we have all the answers? No, but I believe as a profession we are working together and must continue to move forward. Rigor, relevance, and common core must be a part of the vocabulary for agricultural education. I truly believe we have the opportunity to help provide the relevance to the math and science standards our students are struggling to master. We must speak the language of our "Academic" peers and help our students. I know that our curriculum is vastly different across our country and that many of you have honor classes and classes that count as math or science credit. I also know that as we have students of all ranges and capacities we must help them all grasp concepts and make those connections.


If you feel that this is something you already do well in your program, then I ask you to help the rest of us by posting your ideas and lessons in Communities of Practice. If you are struggling with something, I hope you take advantage of Communities of Practice and look or ask for help.  One of the things I love about COP is that EVERYONE can be involved! Although I often look on COP for new ideas or keep up with a few of our bloggers, one of my new year's resolutions is to better utilize this great tool and do a better job of contributing back to COP. I would love if you join me as well!


I hope everyone has a great and wonderful new year! I am looking forward to this amazing opportunity and I want you to know that I will do everything I can to help NAAE and Agricultural Education grow and prosper in 2013!

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