Skip navigation


2 Posts authored by: Hilary Parker


Determination in Motion

Tina Miner-James

Walton Central School, Walton, N.Y.


Tina Miner-James, last year's Region VI NAAE Teacher Mentor Award winner, wasn't the first person to hold her newborn son 12 years ago. That honor went to her husband. She wasn't the second person, either. Just after being wheeled into recovery from a C-section, Miner-James got a call from the nurse's station, explaining that a very concerned student wanted to make sure she was OK.


Miner-James smiled and told the nurses to send the student, whom we will call "Brent," down to her room. He was the second person to hold her only hours-old son.


Brent was a special case. Labeled in ninth grade as a "killing time kid" who wasn't expected to graduate, Brent posed a challenge to Miner-James and the other teachers. He had some learning disabilities, but back then, the education system simply labeled him as "naughty." Still, Miner-James saw something in Brent, and was determined to help him graduate.


"I worked with him for four years, and the day that I got a call and was asked that I be the one to present him with his high school diploma on stage was incredible," she says.


And it was Brent who called her recently, all these years later, after reading about Miner-James being recognized as an outstanding teacher. Now a successful businessman, he told his former teacher that he attributes his success to her perseverance.


"He said he wouldn't be where was was without me and that he was proud to have been one of my students," she says.


It doesn't get much better than that. But Brent is just one person touched by Miner-James' gracious, supportive and sharp teaching. She also mentors other ag teachers, having answered countless "S.O.S." calls from her peers, particularly those who are new to ag education.


"When I found a little bit of success, I shared it," she says, humbly. "If it worked for me, it will work for them."


She was particularly good at pulling together information and resources, and was told early in her career "you get this; can you help others?" Once CTE-certified, she helped others become so, too.


"CTE certification is a bit of security, especially in the face of budget cuts," she notes.


And although Miner-James has traveled all over New York saving ag teachers from the chopping block, she's sympathetic to budget cuts. Still, she makes a clear, concise argument for keeping ag education in schools' curriculum.


"This is the one area in the school where kids are getting hands-on education; they're applying all the academics that they're struggling to achieve," Miner-James says. "Ag ed takes the book learning from other classes and lets kids apply it in real life. It's outside, they're getting dirty, their hands are in it. Geometry, physics, all those classes where they think, 'We're never going to use this in real life' they use in ag ed. If you cut ag programs, you're cutting practical application of all that learning and all they're left with is a book."


For example, just days ago, Miner-James and her class were wading in a nearby brook, working on a study of gravel deposition to help local officials with stream management. It's a far cry from the "shop class" she took in high school.


"We built hay wagons when I took shop," she says. "Now I teach animal science, laboratory science; I teach in a greenhouse."


Miner-James says she gets a kick out of past high school graduates who come back with their kids and reflect on how much this area of education has changed.


"They say, 'This isn't the ag program I had! This is so cool! I want to come back and take this class again!'"


Miner-James was selected as both the Teacher Mentor and Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher award winner for Region VI in 2012. The Teacher Mentor award is sponsored by CEV Multimedia and the Outstanding Teacher award is sponsored by Toyota as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. For more information about all NAAE award programs, visit



From our partner:



What a talented bunch of youngsters we have working for us at NAAE this summer! Check out their profiles below. After all, you may end up trying to recruit one or more of them!



Advocacy Intern: McKenzie Baecker

McKenzie will assist with national advocacy for school-based agricultural education, including influencing individuals and groups in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area who are in a position to support school-based agricultural education as a part of our nation's career and technical education system.



Name: McKenzie Baecker

Hometown: Independence, Wis.

College: University of Wisconsin-River Falls, River Falls, Wis.

Major: Agricultural Education

Plans after college: Pursue a career as an agricultural education instructor

Why intern with NAAE?: I had a very positive experience working with NAAE in the past as a Teach Ag Ambassador, and working on Capitol Hill gaining support for agricultural education was very appealing.

Favorite quote: "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant." - Robert Louis Stevenson


Communications Interns: Amanda Forstater and Tyler Price

Amanda and Tyler will write award citations, news releases, presentation scripts and newsletter entries for 2012-13 NAAE award winners, contact award winners for photographs, and perform other NAAE communications-related tasks. Their writings will be included in publications such as the 2012 NAAE Annual Report, NAAE News & Views, other ag ed publications and award winners' local newspapers.



Name: Amanda Leigh Forstater

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.

College: Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Major: Animal Science & Agricultural Science Education

Plans after college: Starting graduate school in August at Penn State to earn a Masters of Science in Agricultural and Extension Education.

Why intern with NAAE?: I want to make the leap from being involved in the profession of agricultural education as a student to working side-by-side with career professionals and acting as one myself. I want to become more involved with agricultural education on the national level so that I can be more prepared when I become a teacher in this field that I love. Working with the NAAE allows me to plant a strong foundation in agricultural education.

Favorite quote: "There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval." - George Santayana



Name: Tyler James Price

Hometown: Laverne, Okla.

College: Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla.

Major: Double major in agricultural education and agricultural communications

Plans after college: I want to return to a high school setting and be an agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor. It is my plan, now, to teach at an urban school around the Oklahoma City or Tulsa areas.

Why intern with NAAE?: The internship is a perfect mesh of my double major in agricultural education and agricultural communications. The position will serve as a great networking tool and give me the opportunity to see another - quite different - part of the country.

Favorite quote: "Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." - William James


Professional Development Intern: Emilia Dover

Emilia will assist with national professional development initiatives for school-based agricultural education, including program management of several national professional development initiatives like the NAAE Awards program, National Agriscience Integration Institute, National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy, National FFA Convention Teachers' World and professional development at the NAAE Convention.


Name: Emilia Shea Dover

Hometown: Chatsworth, Ga.

College: University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

Major: Just graduated with my B.S.A. in Agricultural Education; starting Master in Agricultural Leadership program in Fall 2013

Plans after college: To teach agriculture in a high school or middle school setting and hopefully make a positive impact along the way. I am excited for the next couple of years of further education, but I can't wait to get in the classroom with my own students!

Why intern with NAAE?: NAAE is a helping hand for agricultural educators, and I believe this internship will serve as an outlet to contribute to agricultural education while I am still in college. I hope to take the lessons I learn while working with NAAE and apply them to my teaching career.

Favorite quote: "Help yourself rise by helping others rise." - Charles Daniel Stewart

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: