As I prepare to take my first National FFA Convention trip with my new students in my new school, I reflect on past trips remembering the highlights. There have been many great tours, sessions, keynote speakers, and award ceremonies that I have attended over my 21 years teaching. The trips I remember the most though are the ones that brought out the best in my students. This trip gives FFA advisors an opportunity not many other teachers experience, they take students out of their school and community to a new state for a whole week! The advisors plan many experiences for their students including educational tours, sessions with exceptional speakers, and workshops that develop their leadership and personal growth. This is all part of the overall experience. However, there are those other creative plans that help students get to know each other on the bus and to show what they have learned at the Convention. The advisors I travel with have a lot of fun planning those additional activities that get the students out of their shy personal space and put them in situations where they have to talk to new people, maybe do some acting, dancing or singing and just have a lot of fun.
One year we had a number of activities planned to help our students grow, the first activity was the "Most Unique Item" contest. The students were challenged to find a unique item to share with the bus on the ride home. A set of rules have been established to keep the game fair and fun. There have been some interesting items over the years including a chunk of cement, an exhibit plant, autographs, band drum sticks, etc. The advisors vote for the "Most Unique Item" to determine the winner. The prizes vary each year and the competition is fierce. In addition to this contest the students also had to prepare a presentation of the items they discovered or collected at the career expo. The students worked in groups or alone and prepared songs, skits, or demonstrations to share what they had picked up at the Expo. One year we had a demonstration of 101 ways to wear a head band. The presentation was so funny we were all in tears! The students presentations are evaluated by a panel of guest judges (aka: FFA Advisors dressed in disguise, see photo below). The students love to see their advisors transform their personalities to become these guest judges. A third activity is a seat rotation on the bus. The aisle seats have to move three seats forward to sit with a new person and get to know them. Each round they have to find out new information, such as; what is your favorite flavor of ice cream, what are you dressing up as for Halloween, what is your SAE project, etc. After three of four rounds the students have met quite a few new people on the bus. Each of these experiences helps build the students confidence while at the same time providing the opportunity for them to share what they learned at National FFA Convention. These are the types of activities the students will never forget and make the Best National FFA Convention Trips!
I can hear it already... Yes, I am super busy! Yes, I have a huge work load! And Yes, I don't need one more thing to do! ......
BUT, one of the greatest aspects of a career in agricultural education is giving back. Giving back to the students, the school and the community. Serving as an NAAE officer also allows me to give back to the people I appreciate most, my Ag Ed colleagues. As an NAAE officer I have learned more about how the organization helps Ag teachers across the country. I have learned about so many Ag educators, Ag programs and Ag stories that I would not have known about if I had not pursued this leadership position.
I know any of you would fight to the end for your students and your program, I apply that same feeling to my position as an officer, I fight for Ag teachers and what is important to them and their career. Serving as an officer is a rewarding experience similar to the rewards we gain as a teacher, you feel good about helping others and seeing them succeed.
I highly recommend you consider serving as an officer for NAAE so you too can learn about the organization, learn about ag programs across the country, and fight and give back to the most amazing people, your colleagues. So no excuses, put your name in the hat and run for an NAAE officer position. All you need to do is have your school sign the MOU found in the Leadership Handbook found at naae.org and turn it in by September 15, 2016. Take yourself to the next level of agricultural education and serve as a national officer, you won't regret the experience!
Hello Region III!
As school is still winding down for some of us, I have 2-1/2 days left yet, I hope everyone is finding some time to spend with family and friends before your summer activities start. While you are making your summer plans I hope you find time to join us at the Region III Conference in St. Cloud, MN. The Minnesota committee has arranged a number of tours for us and they have been working hard to put this conference together so I'm sure they would appreciate it if we had great attendance.
Some of you may be asking, "Why should I go to Region III Conference?" To quote some of your colleagues, "Region III Conference is a great time to take an adventurous trip across country with your Ag Teacher friends and collaborate ideas." "Region III conference provides an opportunity to get to know other Ag teachers in different states and to make connections adding to your list of resources." And "Region III Conference establishes comradery among Ag teachers." These are just a few of the things I have heard said by Region III Conference participants.
Another good reason to attend Region III Conference is that you are traveling without students and you get to spend some quality time with adults that share your same profession. It is the one time you can enjoy the company of your conference companions and talk shop and everyone knows exactly what you are talking about and how you feel. You can't ask for a better conference!
I know as I travel with the Wisconsin gang, we will find our own adventures on the way to Minnesota, even though the drive will be quite a bit shorter than Scottsbluff, NE last year. When you make your travel plans don't forget to put someone in charge of snacks, drinks, music, sightseeing, and of course driving! Everyone gets a job on our trip! I challenge you to find adventure and create your own stories to share.
I hope I have given you enough reasons as to why you should attend Region III and that you are considering joining us at the conference. See you in St. Cloud!
I hope everyone has a great summer! I will be moving from Lodi to Columbus July 1, 2016 so I know I will be busy making the transition. If anyone likes moving please stop by!
"And the winner is....!" I'm sure all of you have heard that phrase before and in some cases you are the winner and other times it is someone else. I know that as Agricultural Educators we do not focus on being personally recognized for our teaching, programs or service to our students. We do however, promote our students and FFA members to ensure they are recognized for their success in their SAE programs, speaking skills, career knowledge and their leadership. Most of us succeed through our students; if they are being acknowledged that is all we need to feel fulfilled. I know my proudest moments have been standing on stage next to one of my National Proficiency winners, a state officer candidate or a creed speaker at a sectional speaking contest. I can hear it now, "I don't need an award plaque or trophy to put on my shelf to tell me I am doing my job and doing it well." And here it comes.... "BUT" being nominated for an award or competing in an award area provides an opportunity for you to take stock of what you have accomplished with your students and in your program. Taking part in the NAAE award areas makes your success and your program public to your peers. It promotes Agricultural Education beyond your classroom to a wider audience other than your hometown. Sharing your success, your innovation, and your educational philosophy exposes a number of other teachers to ideas and motivates them to try and achieve the level of success you have accomplished. The first time I was nominated for an award I completed the application and submitted it thinking there was no way I could compete with the other teachers that I was up against. But the tough competition and the achievements those other teachers had listed in their accolades only made me want to become an even better teacher. I dug deeper and worked harder to provide an even better experience for the students in my program.
I was named Wisconsin's Agricultural Education teacher of the year in 2005. It was one award I was truly proud of as my colleagues recognized me as a worthy teacher to apply for the award and then selected me to represent Wisconsin as their top Agricultural Educator. Once it was announced I had several of my peers approach me to congratulate me, but also to learn from me. I was asked to share my curriculum and lessons. I have presented many workshops since then sharing activities and some of my innovative lessons I use in my classroom. It was an honor to be recognized, but even more important for me, to be able to help my fellow ag teachers by sharing my ideas. I have continued to share ideas and present workshops and I am currently putting together an online resource for new ag teachers to help them get a head start in developing their lessons and curriculum. The best part of being a member of the agricultural education family is that we share. So when you are nominated for an award look beyond the personal recognition and the lack of time you have to complete the application and look toward the opportunity you have to help you Ag Ed family. I would compare it to having a birthday, you aren't too happy about getting another year older, but everyone wants to help you celebrate anyway. The same is true for our NAAE awards everyone wants to help you celebrate the success you have brought to your program and your students so take the time to fill out the award online and let us Celebrate Agricultural Education!
Congratulations to each of our state winners and I am encouraging each of you to complete the online application process so that we can celebrate your success. I know Region III will have a number of members present in Las Vegas to help recognize your accomplishments. The online awards can be found at: http://www.naae.org/resources/awards/index.cfm
Make sure you check out the NAAE website for updates and new videos Julie has released!
Mark your calendars for the Region III conference to be held in St. Cloud, MN, June 21-23!