University: University of Maryland-Eastern Shore
Home Country: Jamaica
Year in School: Senior
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? I want to be able to help play my part in advancing the agricultural knowledge of youth in generations to come.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am excited about being able to use my unique background to share my passion for agriculture with my students.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? I am currently the only agricultural education major at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. I am thankful to attend an institution that is open to allowing students to gain unique experiences that are tailored to their chosen career paths. They are a great example of a university that works to provide opportunities for its students' future career goals.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? I have been able to share my experience growing up in Jamaica as a way to promote diversity throughout agricultural education.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? There is always a way to do what you want. No matter where you come from or your life’s situation, you can be a part of the agricultural education community.
The number one thing you must do in college is: Be involved! I have served for two years as the executive secretary for UMES' Student Government Association. I have also been active in the campus chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) as a past Vice President. I also serve as a Hawk Ambassador, student researcher, and I am also on the homecoming committee.
Favorite hobby: Spending time with friends and family.
Quote that inspires me: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." -1 Peter 4:10
Name: Belmary Pagan Galarza
University: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Home State: Puerto Rico
Year in School: Senior
High School Agriculture Program:
The school I attended didn’t have an agriculture program. I did not become interested in teaching agriculture until my third year of college!
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? I have always had a passion for teaching and an interest in agriculture. Agricultural education is a great way to combine the two that also gives me the opportunity to share the importance of the agriculture industry as a whole.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am looking forward to being able to inspire students the way my teachers inspired me when I was in high school.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? NC A&T is the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education because the teachers in this program are the BEST! Within my major I have encountered the most encouraging, helpful, and passionate teachers and students. I couldn’t see myself anywhere else!
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? My most rewarding experience as an ag ed student so far would be obtaining a position as a National Teach Ag Ambassador. I have worked so hard and now I get to encourage ag students from all around the US to work hard and follow their dreams in agricultural education.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? The best advice I could give to someone considering ag ed would be to look at A&T. The two school-related moments that have had the most impact in my life are attending A&T and choosing agricultural education as my major.
The number one thing you must do in college is: Try new things! Be open to new people and new experiences! College is the best place to connect with people from all around the world and try things you may never have been exposed to otherwise.
Favorite hobby: My favorite hobbies are reading and gardening.
Quote that inspires me: “Know what sparks the light in you, then use that light to illuminate the world.” – Oprah Winfrey
University: Texas A&M
Home State: California
Year in School: Sophomore
High School Agriculture Program: Yosemite High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? My high school ag teachers played a key role in helping me become the person I am today. They encouraged me, pushed me, and showed me the importance of having a positive role model and agricultural educator in your life.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am looking forward to showing not only my students, but community as well that agricultural education is something we should truly invest in. Also, pushing my students to new limits and showing them that with a little faith, trust, and words of wisdom from their ag teacher, they can do anything they set their mind too.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education?
When you become an Aggie at Texas A&M, you feel this sense of community and belonging to something bigger than you can ever imagine. After spending countless hours searching for the “perfect” school to pursue my degree at, it truly became a reality when I first stepped foot in Aggie land. Our school provides amazing professors and allows the students to be hands-on within their field. A&M also holds a strong pride towards Aggie traditions, besides being one of the leading agriculture universities in the nation.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? In horticulture, we were able to create our own garden and help others students around campus realize the importance of agriculture. This opportunity was one of my first tastes of teaching and meant the world to me to see other students and Aggie family members get involved within our amazing industry.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? Challenges and frustration come from choosing any degree, however once you become an ag teacher and see the look on your students' faces when they are learning, you will never regret all of the obstacles it took to get there.
The number one thing you must do in college is: Get involved! No matter what it is, there are so many opportunities and organizations within a college campus. Introduce yourself to everyone you meet, never let there be a day that you encounter a stranger and if you do come across a stranger, work on them until they are a friend. Networking is key when in college and you never know the impact you may leave on someone from that first hello.
Favorite hobby: Working on the family ranch and helping my brother with his 4-H projects
Quote that inspires me: "I am not here to make an impression, I am here to make a lasting impact.” Dr. Rick Rigsby, Texas A&M professor
University: Purdue University
Home State: Indiana
Year in School: Senior
High School Agriculture Program: Southridge High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? Agricultural education made a positive impact on my life when I was in high school. It allowed me to break out of my shell and find out what my passions were. I have decided to become an agriculture teacher so that I can give other students the same opportunity that I was given.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am most looking forward to teaching my students both academically and in competitions. I am excited to see my students use the skills that they learn in the classroom in real-world settings.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? Purdue University is an award-winning institution that is known for its success in all walks of agriculture. At Purdue, we have a 100% membership rate in IAAE-Purdue, which is the collegiate extension of our state’s Indiana Association of Agricultural Educators. This allows us to network with educators throughout the state and take advantage of leadership and professional development opportunities. For freshmen, we also offer an ag ed learning community, which allows new students to make friends within ag ed and get paired with an upperclassman mentor. After student teaching and before graduation, we are also able to receive CASE certification as preservice teachers. Above all, Purdue is the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education because the students, faculty, and staff all create a supportive family-like atmosphere in which students can learn and grow.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an Ag Ed major so far? I think that my most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far has been being asked to help judge FFA leadership events. It makes me smile to see so many young FFA members interested in and passionate about agriculture.
Advice for someone considering Ag Ed? Experience all you can. Do not confine yourself just to stereotypical education experiences. Let yourself explore. Go to conferences, try industry internships, and join a club that is not directly focused on agriculture. It will help you to grow and be a more experienced and better equipped agricultural educator going forward.
The number one thing you must do in college is: Study abroad, even if only for a week, to experience the world around you and witness for yourself how much of a reach agriculture has.
Favorite hobby: Personal concerts while driving down the road
Quote that inspires me: “The boy picked another starfish and threw it back into the sea. Smiling, he then turned and told the man, 'I made a difference to that one!'” -- The Starfish Story OR "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get." -- Forrest Gump
University: University of Tennessee-Martin
Home State: Tennessee
Year in School: Senior
High School Agriculture Program: Halls High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? When deciding what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I took notice of the lack of dedicated agriculture teachers in my life. Becoming an agriculture teacher was a very simple decision for me as it combines my passion for agriculture and educating others.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? The thing that I am looking forward to most is getting to know my students. Not just being their teacher Monday through Friday, 8AM to 3PM, but really getting to understand my students' likes and dislikes, best learning styles, and how I can be a role model and a mentor to them.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? UT-Martin is the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education for three reasons:
- We have an amazing agricultural education professor, Dr. Will Bird, who is dedicated to the education and preparation of his students.
- We are a rather small campus, so we have faculty all across our campus that not only want you to succeed, but know you on a first name basis.
- Our department is dedicated to giving you hands-on experiences in agriculture, as well as in teaching, which is something not many universities can offer.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? The most rewarding experience I have had as an ag ed major so far is being able to attend the Future Agriscience Teacher (FAST) Symposium in Chicago in 2017. This symposium gave me the opportunity to network with other ag ed students, meet industry leaders and Teach Ag staff members that were dedicated to the future of agricultural education, and walk away with more tools and lesson plans that I can use when I become a teacher.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? The best advice I have for someone considering ag ed is to spend some time in the classroom observing a teacher or working with students. That way you’ll know if you truly want to be a teacher.
The number one thing you must do in college is: The number one thing you must do in college is make friends with those who have the same/similar major as you. Those are the people that you’ll see throughout the rest of your life and may need one day.
Favorite hobby: My favorite hobby is traveling. I love to visit new places and experience new things.
Quote that inspires me: “The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you can not do” --Walter Bagehot
University: Oklahoma State University
Home State: Oklahoma
Year in School: Sophomore
High School Agriculture Program: Fairview High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? When you are younger, people ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most of my friends would say something cool like an astronaut or a rock star. My answer was much more practical. I wanted to be a history teacher and a coach. Very original I know, but it was true. I’ve always had an interest in teaching, however it wasn’t until I joined my first agricultural education class that I realized I wasn’t meant to be a history teacher. I was timid at first, not wanting to try too many things since the risk of failure was so great. My agricultural teachers weren’t going to let me just slide by. They helped me get involved exactly where I needed to be. Soon I noticed every time I would learn something new about agriculture, I immediately wanted to share it with my friends. This is when I found my passion for agricultural education and I would not have made this realization if it weren’t for my own agriculture teachers. So, I am choosing to be an agricultural education teacher not only to share the true story of agriculture, but also because I want to use my passion to help others find theirs.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? My favorite part of taking agricultural education classes was simply knowing I had two people who were always there to help me become a better version of myself. So, when looking forward to my career as an agricultural educator, I’m most excited about stepping into the role of being an encourager, motivator, and mentor to each of my students. Teaching may come with a lot of responsibilities that don’t always seem appealing, but it also provides the opportunity to make a difference in students’ lives, just as my agricultural educators did for me, and that is more than worth it.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? If you ever visit Oklahoma State University’s campus, you’ll immediately see why people want to attend college here. Even more so, if you ever step foot in Agricultural Hall, or meet any person within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, you’ll never want to leave. The reason being, we’re all one big CASNR family. As an agricultural education major, you’ll have the head of the department, professors, support staff, and peers all there to help you succeed and to simply ask how your day is going. There are so many opportunities from getting involved with state contests and conferences, to a study abroad trip in the Czech Republic. If you’re wanting to pursue an agricultural education degree, come to Oklahoma State University and join the CASNR family. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? For myself, I don’t think it’s just one experience that has been rewarding, but instead the fact that being an agricultural education major has opened up so many opportunities for me to start working with students. Even though I was only a freshman last year, I was given the chance to help students with speeches, career development events, and livestock projects. As an agricultural education major, you jump right into doing the things you’re passionate about. Then the reward comes when you see those kids do well on the state and national level.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? "Why not? Just do it." If you’re from Oklahoma like me, or are aware of Russell Westbrook and Nike, you know these two sayings. I prefer these slogans not as two separate sayings, but as one, let me explain why. When I was first considering agricultural education, I was hesitant because I have a fear of failing. To me, being the first one in my family involved in agricultural education and being a female meant I didn’t have the experience or skills to be an agriculture teacher. My agriculture teacher didn’t see it the same way and would ask, “Why not?” Of course I never had a good answer, so eventually I just started doing it. I got involved in everything from career development events to showing livestock. The most important thing I did that put me on the path to agricultural education was helping teach our freshmen agriscience class. Once I had truly experienced what it was like being an agriculture teacher, I was hooked and there wasn’t anything that was going to stop me. That is my advice to you. If you’re still in high school, start an agricultural education SAE or be a teacher’s assistant. If you are already in college, help with an FFA contest or shadow an agriculture teacher. Explore every aspect of an agriculture program and fall in love. If you are at all considering agricultural education, go for it. Ask yourself, “Why not?” and then just do it. I’m telling you, agricultural education is one of the best professions you have the opportunity to go into.
The number one thing you must do in college is: Take naps. I know it sounds simple and maybe even boring, but trust me naps are amazing. In high school, I was usually so busy with FFA or sports or whatever else I was plugged into, that I never took the time to take a nap. Now in college, it’s nice to stop for a moment to just relax, and well, sleep.
Favorite hobby: My favorite hobby is watching The Office. It might sound cliché, but who can blame me? It’s unmatched.
Quote that inspires me: “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.” – John F. Kennedy
University: South Dakota State University
Home State: Minnesota
Year in School: Junior
High School Agriculture Program: Staples-Motley High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? As a sophomore in high school, I experienced the Teach Ag campaign for the first time. I walked into a Teach Ag workshop at the National FFA Convention with my guidebook in hand and half-worn curls. I wanted to be there, but I was convinced I couldn’t be an agriculture teacher. FFA meetings were the only time I stepped foot in the ag classroom. I had no experience in class, no confidence in the shop, and could never be as good as my own instructor. I wanted to help students do remarkable things, but I was convinced I wasn’t qualified. I sat down and began writing out my concerns. If I was here, I at least wanted answers to reaffirm that I couldn’t teach. An ambassador (from SDSU actually!) noticed the distressed look on my face and sat down next to me. We began talking about what I liked about agricultural education, and my list grew fast. Then we talked about what I was scared of. One by one, the ambassador provided reasonable solutions to my concerns. After talking about special trainings, college options, and student teaching, he shifted my perspective. What I didn’t know I could learn, what I feared only needed practice, and my heart was made to empower students. I realized that what I wanted to do outweighed the challenges that almost held me back. This ambassador shaped my future by adding confidence, knowledge, and networks into my toolbox.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? The “ah-hah” moments of students! As soon as a student connects with a concept their interest is sparked. My goal as a teacher is to influence “ah-hah” moments in each student. I truly believe these moments take a classroom experience from ordinary to extraordinary.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? South Dakota State University provides a real-life community feel throughout campus in relationships with staff and classroom opportunities. As an agricultural education major, you learn more than classroom content. You learn how to effectively mentor and guide students to apply the content you have to share.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? I’ve been embraced by the ag ed community and I’m so grateful. I spend time teaching in my home ag classroom, but also visit quite a few classrooms across the state. Besides interacting with the students, I have received lots of advice and support from teachers who have “been there, done that.” Their genuine interest in my ag ed journey makes me feel at home in this profession. It’s not a surprise that some of my greatest mentors have developed from these visits and conversations.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? Picture agricultural education as a puzzle. There are hundreds of pieces and the perfect ag teacher would know them all. From animal science to welding, and biotechnology to parliamentary procedure, we are a “jack of all trades.” But hold up! Very few ag teachers begin with all the pieces. In fact, most have very few to start with. Each one of us has a piece we know well -- mine is ag leadership and literacy. Take that piece and run with it. Your missing pieces will come, trust me! Your college education, professional workshops, and the large network of agricultural educators are just three resources that will guide your experience. Instead of fearing the missing pieces, take the ones you have and say yes to agricultural education!
The number one thing you must do in college is: Go on every trip offered. This is your best chance to explore. The agricultural community offers endless seminars, conferences, scholarships, and trips to see our world and meet lifelong connections. I’ve never regretted signing up and plan to do much more as my college career continues!
Favorite hobby: Road tripping with lots of friends for no particular reason. That’s how the best adventures are found!
Quote that inspires me: "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.' -- Mother Teresa
University: Southwest Minnesota State University
Home State: Iowa
Year in School: Senior
High School Agriculture Program: Wapsie Valley High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? My agriculture teacher, Mrs. Ellen Doese, helped me find home in the classroom. She inspired me to make a difference in the lives of students the way she did for me.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching?The opportunity for continuous learning and to change the lives of students by providing them with an education that each of them can directly relate to.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? SMSU is a home away from home. With no out-of-state tuition, the university provides an affordable and quality education for all. The agriculture department is full of caring professors, innovative students, and local business partners who actively play a role in increasing the quality of your education. The agricultural education program is like a family and still developing, so student voices are heard and we get to help shape our own education.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? Having an internship through MAELC. I got to see the “everything else” part of being an ag ed instructor. I did this in Grand Rapids, Minnesota (six hours from home), so I got to do lots of new and cool things. No two days were the same and I got to do everything from cutting down a 60-foot tree to attending a “Beach Day” with FFA members. The experience taught me more than I could ever learn in a college class and allowed me to get a more holistic view of my future career.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? Get out and get to know the profession. No two classrooms, schools, or teachers are the same, so don’t make your decision based on one. Most teachers have created their own blend of the things they do by doing the same thing.
The number one thing you must do in college is: Try something new! You get a perfect opportunity to be the person you want to be. Whether it’s joining a new club, going on a spontaneous road trip with friends (even if it’s just to the local Taco Bell or stargazing), or being the rowdy kid in the crowd at the football game, make sure to live in the moment!
Favorite hobby: Playing and coaching volleyball
Quote that inspires me: “There are no limits to what you can accomplish, except the limits you place on your own thinking.” -- Brian Tracy
Name: MaKayla Anne Rose
University: Morehead State University
Home State: Kentucky
Year in School: Junior
High School Agriculture Program: I participated in 4-H Livestock for 10 consecutive years, as my high school did not offer FFA or any agriculture classes until I was a senior and at that time seniors were not allowed to take them.
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? I decided to become an agriculture teacher because of my love for agriculture. I grew up and still currently live on my family farm and I participated in 4-H livestock for 10 years. During my college career, I have joined numerous agriculture-related organizations such as the 4-H Livestock Council and 4-H Council, Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority, and Delta Tau Alpha. I love every aspect of agriculture and I want to keep its importance alive.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am really looking forward to teaching kids who do not come from an ordinary agricultural background and seeing them learn things they never knew were out there. I also look forward to watching my students grow and hopefully they will find a love for the agriculture field as well.
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? Morehead State University is the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education because it resembles a family away from home. Classes are small and the professors really get to know students one-on-one. We have an amazing agriculture complex and many different program areas within the agriculture field. There are a lot of hands-on learning opportunities, and getting to see and participate in the everyday functions of the complex, from feeding the livestock to working in the hay fields and greenhouses and many other opportunities are great learning experiences. Everything is not just conducted inside of a classroom. There are just a lot of fun and rewarding experiences to gain at Morehead State.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? My most rewarding experience as an ag ed major has been the time I have been able to spend inside and outside of the high school classroom, observing students and my mentor teacher. I have connected with many of the students and they are really a great bunch of kids to be around.
Advice for someone considering ag ed? My advice for someone considering ag ed would be to take every opportunity you are given to better yourself and gain experience. It is truly worth it, so go for it!
The number one thing you must do in college is: Get out and explore your campus and the town it is in. There are so many wonderful things to learn about your campus and what it has to offer, as well as the local community. Do not stress out over everything and learn to relax!
Favorite hobby: I love showing cattle, cooking, and reading. They are a close tie.
Quote that inspires me: “I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say, ‘Because of you I didn’t give up.’”
University: Washington State University
Home State: Washington
Year in School: Senior
High School Agriculture Program: White River High School
Why did you decide to become an agriculture teacher? I decided to become an agriculture teacher because I really appreciate the way the three-circle model of agricultural education provides the opportunity to receive a well-rounded educational experience. I love that the model allows students to glean knowledge in the classroom and then practice it in their Supervised Agricultural Experience projects, as well as practice new skills for future career success in the FFA leadership opportunities. I truly believe that my past experiences in the agriculture classroom have helped me be the motivated, successful student that I am today, and I want to be able to pass that invaluable experience down to future generations of students in my classes. Teaching is also a way for me to “pay it forward” and pour into others everything that people have poured into me.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching? I am looking most forward to the ability to prepare students to thrive in their own individual ways throughout life, and to help them uncover the unique talents that they have to offer the world. Teaching is more than just telling students what to think for a test -- it is helping them realize how to think, and how to best navigate life’s challenges, obstacles and celebrations. I firmly believe that the best way to do this is through all of the opportunities and experiences that agricultural education provides. I cannot wait for those long drives to livestock shows or early morning practices for an upcoming competition where I get to assist my students in applying what I have taught them in the classroom!
Why is your university the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education? Washington State University is the best place to pursue a degree in agricultural education because of the diverse array of courses available and the family-like community that you cannot find anywhere else! My degree falls under the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS), and when you become a “CAHNRS Coug” (Cougars are our mascot), you have truly found your home away from home where your professors, peers, faculty, stakeholders, and alumni want only the best for you! They consistently leave a welcoming feel wherever you go! My last three years at Washington State University have flown by not only because I have had fun meeting new friends and engaging with my Cougar community, but also because I have kept busy with numerous personal and professional experiences that have molded me into the young professional that I am today, and contributed to growing my professional network and enhancing my skill sets for my future career! I enjoyed being able to choose which classes I wanted to specialize in for my agricultural education degree. We also have an amazing Agricultural Education Club that provides an extension of that family feel from CAHNRS, offers more experiences to hone your skills, and allows you to keep involved with assisting local, regional, and state-wide FFA events!
What has been your most rewarding experience as an ag ed major so far? The most rewarding experience as an agricultural education major that I have had so far is being able to help volunteer at and facilitate Washington FFA Association competitive events. It is fun being able to be on the other side of the competition now, and be the one helping students through these experiential learning opportunities. I also really enjoyed my three-week introductory practicum experience at a Washington high school, where I got to connect with the students and then see them compete at the Washington FFA state convention during my final week of practicum. It was a taste of what it will be like to be an agriculture teacher and help students succeed!
Advice for someone considering ag ed? My advice for someone considering agricultural education is to not stress yourself out by feeling like you have to know everything, since agricultural education covers a wide variety of topics. Very rarely do you find an agriculture teacher that is perfect at everything, but rather you see them specialize in their areas of expertise, and then reach out to their partner teachers (if it’s a multiple agriculture teacher program), or their community for help with coaching and teaching other topics. Successful people are not successful because they know everything on their own, but rather they surround themselves with other successful people to lean on and learn from!
The number one thing you must do in college is: The number one thing you must do in college is to travel abroad! Whether it’s a personal vacation or a study abroad trip, I highly recommend that during your time in college you leave the USA at least once! After high school, when I was a Washington FFA state officer, I went abroad to South Africa for a little over two weeks to study international agriculture. Between my freshman and sophomore years of college I went to Europe for three weeks to Germany, Ireland and Spain. Those trips allowed me to gain different perspectives on the world I was living in and better understand how I can contribute my time, talents and treasures to the world; even if it’s in the smallest of ways. After all, according to the “Butterfly Effect,” even the smallest of changes can lead to large effects worldwide! Traveling outside of your country allows you to enhance your worldview and cultural intelligence, and expands your mind to think beyond yourself.
Favorite hobby: I have many hobbies that I enjoy including hiking, camping, traveling, crafting, and spending time with my husband and black lab Cash!
Quote that inspires me: “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness." -- Thomas Jefferson