Nick Nelson

How to get the Most out of Conferences

Blog Post created by Nick Nelson on Jun 2, 2014

Cowboy Logic: "Nothing is impossible with the right attitude and a hammer."

I have had the opportunity to go to many conferences in a relatively short period of time, being an ag teacher.  I am a second generation ag teacher, so I had the advantage of going to conferences with my dad and family--so when it was my time to be in the teacher role, I never questioned whether or not to go to our state conference.  We call these conferences "professional development," but I think they are as much an "attitude adjustment" as the prior.  Our state conferences happen in the summer following school ending, and if you are anything like me you are burned out and fed up.  What a great time to get rejuvenated in the career you truly do enjoy!


We, as ag teachers, all have the same problems, from administration, to class loads, to small budgets, but I always find excitement about what I do when I find out that I am not alone in this job.  Go to your state conferences and spend the time in the workshops and the meetings to get that Professional Development piece, but then go after the day of meetings and spend it with your fellow ag teachers talking casually about what they did that worked or didn't work, and you will then find the Attitude Adjustment for what you do!

Region 1 Conference was held in Oahu, Hawaii in April.  We had about 45 in attendance which was a terrific turn out going so far away from the contiguous 48.  The Hawaiian association did an excellent job in hosting us and I truly appreciate them for showing us around and educating us on how very different agriculture is on the islands.  One of the best comments I heard was during a tour of a high school program at Leilehua which had an operating budget for the program of $2000, but earned $15,000 with a three acre farm and 200 students enrolled.  After touring the vegetable crops and aquaculture labs, we were brought to a half cut culvert full of shredded paper.  Worms were multiplying in the pipe, turning the school's waste paper into compost used by the crops, because the soil was an extremely poor Oxisol.  The comment was "We forget how to be inventive when we have money to operate with."  I truly believe that statement is so correct, we are always dwelling on not having enough money that when tides shift and money becomes available, we become less inspired to figure out ways for our program to make money or be sustainable.

If you were unable to make it to Region 1 Conference be sure to attend your state conference -- these are opportunities that you will surely miss if not in attendance.  The ag teacher conference creates the camaraderie of our organization and seperates agriculture teachers from all the other educators.  This year I am planning on attending Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Arizona's ag teacher summer conferences, so I hope to see you there!