On Sunday morning, as I was doing chores, it started snowing. The first snow of the year was coming down. My kids gleamed with excitement. The flakes started out small and soon grew very large. Within a matter of hours, the snow began to stick. Then the entire ground was covered with the fluffy white snowflakes. I continued to feed the animals in the barnyard. Once I finished chores, I headed to the house, as it was still snowing and getting much colder.
Once I got to the house, I turned and looked back at the barnyard. I could see everywhere I had walked. My path was clearly marked in the freshly fallen snow. In most places, it was a single path to the feed bunk and back to the barn. There was one area where it looked a little messy. That was when I forgot to get the feed and had to go back and fix my mistake. The area where the animals came to the feed bunk was not a single path, but instead a bunch of tracks that were interwoven.
As the snow started to melt away, it was very evident where I had packed the snow down in my tracks. It was the last to melt, but it did fade with time.
Greetings from now sunny, central Missouri. I am Scott Stone, your newly-elected NAAE President. It will be my sincere honor and privilege to serve you over the next year. I am very excited to see what we can accomplish over the next year to further our profession.
Our local FFA chapter theme this year states, “Together We are Awesome.” That is exactly how I feel about the upcoming year. At the NAAE convention held in Las Vegas, the members elected an outstanding team of individuals who will run our organization. Our president-elect is Nick Nelson, the new Region I Vice President is Chad Massar, the Region II Vice President is Hals Beard, the Region III Vice President is Glenda Crook, the Region IV Vice President is Parker Bane, the Region V Vice President is Jason Kemp, and the Region VI Vice President is Sherisa Nailor. At our post-convention board meeting, I could feel the excitement in the air from this group of talented and dedicated individuals.
I am a high school agricultural educator in Centralia, MO, where I have taught for the past 19 years. I will start year 20 on January 1. I have had the opportunity to see numerous changes over the past 19 years. One lesson that stands out in my mind is that if we do not change with the times, we will become extinct.
I live just north of Centralia, MO, with my fabulous wife Jeannette, who is a high school special education instructor. We have three children: Zane, Annamarie, and Stetson. We have a small, diversified livestock operation. We raise Boer meat goats, crossbred sheep, a few Charolais cattle, crossbred and purebred pigs, as well as laying hens and 2 horses.
When I am not at school, I am usually watching my children play sports such as football, softball, basketball, baseball, and track, or taking care of animals at the farm. I also enjoy spending time in the school greenhouse, raising poinsettias in the fall and bedding plants in the spring.
If you had the opportunity to listen to my speech at NAAE convention, I like to learn lessons from my barnyard. It is a very educational place if we stop long enough to look for those special moments.
Well I can tell you, as I looked out over the snow-covered barnyard on Sunday, I learned a few lessons. The first lesson I learned was from my single path in the snow. As I go about leading the organization this year, I will leave a path. That path will be my legacy; it will be how I will be remembered. I want it to be one of service and dedication to the greater good of the profession.
The second lesson I learned was where I forgot the feed and had to go back and make another path. The same is true with our leadership over the next year. We will embark on a path, and may sometimes realize it was not the one we should have taken. It takes great strength and courage to turn around and say we need to back up and start again. I promise you, our leadership will not be without a mistake or two, but I promise you we will work on correcting the direction of the sails as soon as possible.
The third lesson that came to light was where all the animals came to the trough together. We need to come to the figurative trough together. The more agriculture teachers from across the country band together, the more we can accomplish. There is marked strength in unity. By working as a united group to advocate on behalf of our profession, we will accomplish more than the sum of our parts.
Finally, as I watched the snow melt, and my foot imprints remained, I realized my time in leadership is short, but the imprint I leave will stick around for a while. I must never forget the legacy I leave will set the course for agricultural educators for years to come. I must take each step with care and work to develop new leaders to continue the journey.
I am so thankful to you, the members of the NAAE, for putting your faith in me to serve as president of such a great organization. I pledge to create a legacy that will help to retain teachers within our profession, to recruit more individuals to join our association, as well as ACTE so we can magnify our voice, to honor diversity in our profession, and to never lose sight of the balanced three-circle model upon which agricultural education was founded.
In closing, I hope you will take a few of these observations from the barnyard and see if they can apply to your life. I know they do to mine. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions over the next year, please contact me at Scott.Stone@catnet.gen.mo.us or 573-881-3315, or contact any of the other members of the leadership team, so we can forge a new path into the future.
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