So ag mechanics are two little words that scare a lot of people, especially in the realm of agricultural education?And four months ago, I was definitely one of them! Growing up on a farm and spending time helping my dad on projects meant that I was a certified flashlight holder. So naturally when I told my dad that I was teaching MIG Welding, TIG Welding, Plasma Arc Cutting, Electricity, & Plumbing, he was a little apprehensive. But after a PHENOMENAL four months with Doug Brown & Curt Turner at Central Columbia High School, I feel completely confident about teaching ag mechanics (I?m actually hoping that I get to teach a lot of it!) I truly believe that the only way to conquer your fears and engage in an authentic learning experience is to challenge yourself and dive in headfirst?& when you have the absolute best cooperating teachers EVER, it makes the whole process less intimidating and a blast along the way!
So besides challenging myself, what else contributed to having a great student teaching experience?
Saturating myself in the community & being involved in as much as possible! Total community involvement is second nature at Central Columbia. Doug is not only the assistant athletic director, but he serves on the Education Committee of the Columbia County Conservation District, works closely with 4-H Extension, etc... Curt is the resident Hunter Safety Instructor, Agri-Science, Science & Health Pathway Chair, assistant little league baseball coach, etc... So long story short, there was never a time when we could NOT find something to dabble in. That alone is something that I cherish. Thanks to my cooperating teachers, I feel like I have roots in Columbia County. Every board meeting and sporting event that we attended, I felt like I was a part of the program. More importantly, I have directly seen the impact of community involvement within Central's Ag Program. Not only does this program have immense support, but the instructors are pillars of support within their community.
And finally...an open line of communication is the last special ingredient!
For the better part of a year prior to student teaching, Doug & Curt kept in constant communication with me and took me along to a ton of events. One of my favorite memories was riding along to the Northeastern Dairy Expo in Troy with Doug (the summer before my senior year in college!). Of course, he put me right to work managing the colored breeds' ring. I learned more about dairy breeds that day than any time spent in the classroom. During my student teaching experience, they always made time to provide valuable feedback and praise. They made me feel good about my blunders & great about my successes. I absolutely could not imagine student teaching anywhere else & to say that these guys have solidified my desire to go into the agricultural education profession would be an understatement!