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6 Posts authored by: Terry Rieckman
Terry Rieckman

Accept The Challenge

Posted by Terry Rieckman Oct 4, 2016

As my term on the NAAE board is coming to an end in a couple of months, I look back and reflect on what has happened in my life the past five years that I have served on the board. In addition to attending each of the National FFA Conventions, state conventions, numerous CDE’s, field trips and national land judging each year, I have also had to take time to attend NAAE Convention, board meetings, NPS, and some conference calls. It seems like a lot, and it is a commitment, but one I will cherish and have no regrets.


First I would say working with the NAAE staff alone has been rewarding, and we are indeed blessed to have such a dedicated staff working for us. I will also say the friendships I have made by attending regional meetings and with other members I have served with on the board are friendships for a lifetime.


Now all this being said, it is not always easy to leave for these FFA or NAAE trips. I sometimes feel like I am cheating my students, but I look at the contacts I make and the professional development I receive, and I know that in the long run I am benefiting both them and my program. I will be the first to admit I hate getting ready for a sub, as it is more work than being there myself. However, this too, benefits my students and my chapter, as they learn to take on more responsibility and become better leaders and students.


So in short, I would say the benefits far exceed the shortfalls and that I would without a doubt do it all over again. The places I have been able to travel to and the exciting and energetic teachers I have met all over the country have been so rewarding. I love seeing all the energy and positive attitudes wherever I have traveled and the passion so many of you carry for teaching others about where their food and clothing comes from.


As I talk to young teachers, I always encourage them to get involved in the district, regional, or  national level in our organization. Don’t wait for someone else to do it, and if you do then don’t complain about the job others are doing. Each and every day we are challenging our students to step up and become better speakers and leaders – so why would we not challenge ourselves? I have been an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor for over 30 years. I truly do "Love My Job" and feel the best way I could express this to my students is by being involved and taking a role in leadership in our professional organization.



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The Chicken or the Egg? Recruitment or Retention?


Which comes first? Obviously for us, we need to recruit to have a steady supply of teachers to replace those who are retiring or leaving the profession, but if we kept the 30 percent of young teachers who leave in the first five years of teaching, our shortage would not be so noticeable. Which leads to the question recruitment or retention -- which comes first?


First off, let me state that we need to continue to support and work with the National Teach Ag Campaign to identify and encourage those we feel would make good agriculture teachers. Sometimes where we look is not necessarily just in our classroom, but to those with an agricultural background, and people in other professions that possess a passion for agriculture. Once we have them enrolled, we can’t ignore them for the next three years and expect them to just show up someday to begin student teaching. What can we do as teachers in our profession to help the universities in keeping as many of our students in agricultural education as possible?


If we have done a good job of recruiting and these young people are ready to begin teaching, what do we do next to retain them? I really believe a lot of this can be solved with a quality mentoring program, but this is often hard to do on the local level, especially in a one-teacher department. Many states have programs in place to help beginning teachers, but we still need more. We, as leaders, in our organizations at the district, region or state level need to step up and make sure that we are there to encourage and help young teachers and not just during the first year, but all the early years!


Recruitment or retention? They are both going to have to play an important role as we strive to find and retain quality teachers. As the world population increases and society becomes more disengaged from where their food comes from, our job becomes even more important. I challenge each of you to reach out to a beginning teacher this year and offer your assistance.


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Terry Rieckman

For Your Students

Posted by Terry Rieckman May 30, 2016

Never Exhaust Your Mind!!!!


As educators we have all heard many quotes related to education and learning for students, and to help each of us to improve our teaching techniques or practices. Almost all of these quotes can apply to each of us in our classrooms or laboratories each day, but have we ever stopped to think of how they apply to us and our continuing education?

Learning really is a lifelong process and we continue to learn each and every day.With the constant changes in the agriculture industry and technology, it is especially important for us to stay current. One of the best ways I have found to do this is with all the excellent professional development that is made possible to us each year. During the summer months, there are multiple opportunities to expand our knowledge and learning with attendance at CASE institutes, industry and university workshops, along with the DuPont AgriScience Academy. However; your professional development can also come from attending state summer conferences or regional conferences and taking advantage of the workshops offered at each of these venues.

If you are working on budgets through your school or other areas, you could also consider budgeting in to attend the NAAE Conference in Las Vegas this year.

Through my 30 plus years of teaching, the professional development I have found that is most relevant and useful to me on a daily basis has been the tricks of the trade I learned in the short one to two-hour workshops offered at my state summer conference, or from the NAAE conferences I have attended. Being taught by and learning from my peers has provided me with a multitude of resources that are only an email away. As I prepare to work on projects or with certain lessons, there are many teachers that I have reached out to and have received assistance from.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that besides the learning and networking that goes on during each of these activities, the greatest benefit is the friendships and contacts that I have made. I cherish each of these and nothing makes me smile more than meeting old friends and making new ones at each one I attend. The agricultural education community truly is a family of its own, and for this I count my blessings each and every day.

I really can't express the gratitude and pride I feel each day that you all have given me as your elected President for NAAE, but I would also say it would not have happened had I not continued to learn by attending professional development opportunities offered at the state, regional and national levels. Have a safe and enjoyable summer and take advantage of all the learning opportunities that time allows for, but mostly take time to rejuvenate yourself and take spend quality time with your family.

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Terry Rieckman

NAAE Wants You!!

Posted by Terry Rieckman Mar 24, 2016

What Was I Scared Of?

This is the title of another Dr. Seuss book that relays the message of trying new things and stepping out of your box. I love Dr. Seuss books because they all have valuable, everyday lessons that are taught in a light-hearted, but effective manner.



For a number of years our state association officers asked, "Why don't you fill out this application for the NAAE?" For a number of years I found excuses not to -- one being if I fill this out and don't win I just wasted a lot of my time, right?


Oh I was so wrong. After I filled the application out and reflected back on how I had made improvements and changed my curriculum and the culture of the program, it was worth the effort even if I had not sent it in. I did not win the first year, but I was able to make some minor corrections and adjustments the next year, and in 2002 I won the Outstanding Middle/Secondary Program award. The recognition that my school received locally and regionally for our program achieving this award was inspiring. Now it has been a lot of years since this first award, but there are still coffee ladies who say or ask about this when we visit.


Filling out the award application not only benefited me, but our school district as well. I have since gone on and earned the Outstanding Teacher award, though I admit I still often feel humbled and inadequate compared to other teachers in our field.


The message I am trying to send is every year when I go to conference, whether on the state, regional or national level, I am amazed and in awe of the great work and ideas I see and hear from all of you. It is not me that you need to toot your horn to, but your administration, school board and the communities that you live in. You can be their shining star!


The application due dates are coming up soon. Contact a few teachers, community supporters and administrators and ask for that letter of support. Then call or contact someone you know that has applied for one of these awards and get their help. We would expect no less of our students, so why should we lower the bar for ourselves? You know as well as I that while the "atta boy" or "atta girl" are appreciated, they will not carry the weight to our schools and communities that these awards can.

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    I remember my father asking me this question many times as a young man. His meaning was slow down, take a breath, and spend some time with those who matter the most. Hopefully all of us were able to do some of this over the holiday season, and I hope just as much it does not become next holiday season before we all take advantage of talking, visiting and making those bonds again with our extended families.


    This coming and going statement can also be used in our everyday lives at this time of the year. State Degrees, Proficiency Applications, Science Fair, new courses for the semester and the list goes on. It just seems there is one thing after another, and for as sorry as I feel for myself sometimes I look at my students who like many of yours in small schools are just going 90 MPH in everything. Get to wrestling or basketball practice, get done and go to play practice, have an early morning CDE practice on Tuesday morning and show choir practice on Wednesday morning. Oh yeah I need to get that scholarship application done as well. March Madness!!!!!!!!!??  Whew, let me get through January first.


      So where am I going with all this? I just wanted to say that the Ag Ed program and FFA that I work in now is a lot different than the one I started in 30 plus years ago. The one constant in all of this though is my wife, children and now grandchildren. Taking time and making time for them has to be a priority in our lives.


      So as we leave January and head into February remember to celebrate CTE month. I am going to do now what agriculture teachers often do best, and that is steal or borrow from someone else. If you read the blog of Region VI Vice President Krista Pontius you will know where I got this, but wow what a great idea!!!!


                So I will issue the same challenge as she did to all of you as well. Whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or some other social media let's promote agriculture education during this month. I am going to suggest using the exact same delivery dates as she proposed in her blog. Now you can also do this with your local paper or any other means you find useful.


  • Week of February 1st - Learning to Do (Classroom Experiences)
  • Week of February 8th - Doing to Learn (FFA Experiences)
  • Week of February 15th - Earning to Live (SAE Experiences)
  • Week of February 22nd -Living to Serve (Community Service Projects)


        Share your story, share your experiences and above all thank your family.


        I still want to remind you all though that March Madness truly will be upon us soon and one of the best ways you can begin with this is to attend NPS the first week in March. This is a great way to advocate for those things that are near and dear to us, and for you to make a difference in your state leadership. I have students ask me why I am going and I tell them, "I have you doing things to promote agriculture and our program to community and state leaders, why would I not do the same on the next level?"


        So if I see you soon at a conference, NPS, convention, or just passing through the airport, it is ok to ask me if am I coming or going. Because just like family I treasure each and every moment I spend with my extended agricultural education family.



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Terry Rieckman

New President Greetings

Posted by Terry Rieckman Dec 11, 2015

Season Greetings to All,

It was so great to see so many of you at the recent NAAE Convention in New Orleans. I felt that the progress that was made with committee work, the professional development workshops offered, and with all of the award recognition we did at business sessions, that this was a very successful and enjoyable convention. Hopefully you were able to get out and see some of New Orleans and taste some of their fine cuisine.  If you were a first time attendee or a veteran of many, I think there was something for everyone and you should have come home to your students invigorated and ready to finish this semester.

As we move forward to 2016, I see plenty to be optimistic about in our organization and in agricultural education. I hope to continue what Kevin and Charlie have started in getting our new committee structure up to where we all feel it needs to be. With this would come even more grassroots involvement and a greater sense of responsibility for our members!


I also believe that as an organization we need to work with our state associations and businesses to help us in creating summer internships for agricultural education students, to get them involved early in SAE visits, FFA activities, curriculum development, and working with students. I feel if we are able to do this, they will have a better idea of the life of an agriculture teacher and realize that it is not all about the classroom or FFA.


From my family to yours, may you have a very merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

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