Andrea Fristoe

Marching Off the Map for the Future of Ag Education

Blog Post created by Andrea Fristoe on May 13, 2020

Hello Fellow Navigators!

 

These past couple of months have no doubt been a test of patience and trust in our lives. We are navigating uncharted territory and having to learn new things each and every day. Some days the sun is out and we can see for miles, others are cold and rainy as we face a mountain of uncertainty.

 

For me, I had surgery to repair a broken femur (that I had apparently been walking on for five months) on March 19th – just as the pandemic was ramping up and everything started shutting down. At one point, I was meeting with my surgeon and he wasn’t 100% certain whether my surgery would be considered “elective” or not. Thankfully, it was considered Level One trauma surgery and I was able to get it done. This was a whirlwind in uncharted territory for me, as I had never had surgery before.

 

Since my surgery, I have had to learn how to modify my lifestyle in order to accommodate my inability to bear weight on my right leg (I still have at least seven weeks to go), during a lockdown. I’ve had to learn to be dependent on others to do things that I’ve always done with no assistance (like checking the mail and doing laundry). I also have two small children – JW (4 years old) and Rylee (11 months old) – so I have to depend on my mom and my husband to help me care for them. Rylee was also recently diagnosed with autoimmune hemolytic anemia and has had two separate hospital stays so far. To say life has been a challenge the past two months would be an understatement. I’m sure you have had a similar experience within your classrooms – having to depend on technology to be reliable, students to have the motivation to do their assignments, and administrators to understand the importance of clarity and transparency, just to name a few.

 

Some of you may be wrapping up the school year, while others may still have a month to go. We are all wondering how the upcoming school year will look. I can’t even imagine the stress and anxiety this is causing every educator to have. If I can offer any advice, it would be to take each day hour by hour (or cup of coffee to cup of coffee). We have to find a way to stay positive during this time of uncertainty. Our students depend on us for guidance and support. As ag teachers, we have the unique opportunity to know our students for multiple years, on a more personal level because of the way the three-circle model of instruction is designed. This makes us very lucky because we have the ability to reach our students in ways that most other teachers can’t.

 

In Chapter five of the book (page 80 if you want to read it again), it says, “approximately 70 percent of the 53,000 faculty surveyed said they are ‘unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’ to encourage graduates to enter the profession and become teachers.” Now, what does that say about the current morale of the teaching profession? It’s not good and this book was written well before the current pandemic, so we can only imagine what those statistics might say today, as our internet freezes and every face in our Zoom call is staring blankly at us for the third time this week.

 

Like I mentioned earlier, ag teachers have this incredibly unique opportunity to reach their students in ways that other teachers cannot, so it is of utmost importance that we stay positive and keep pushing on through this uncharted territory, assuring them that we will get through this successfully. When our students see us making the most of the current situation, they will have the motivation and drive they need to continue to grow as learners – some might even surprise you and decide to become ag teachers themselves.

 

At NAAE, the National Teach Ag Campaign works to recruit and retain high-quality and diverse agriculture teachers. We have many different projects and initiatives that promote the importance of agricultural education and addressing the national demand for agriculture teachers. As a teacher, you can encourage your students to sign up online for the National Teach Ag Campaign, so that they can receive regular, monthly communications from us. You can also nominate students to become future ag teachers, or take a step further and send them a Teach Ag Kit or host your own Signing Day Event (even if it has to be virtual). I encourage each of you to check out the Teach Ag website (www.naae.org/teachag) for all of our resources to help us in our mission to recruit and retain the next generation of ag teachers.

 

Even though we are currently knee-deep in an aquaponics tank full of uncertainty, we are somehow going to make it through all of this and come out stronger and wiser than ever – and that is the message we need to convey to our students. You have the ability to keep them motivated and inspire them to begin their own journey as ag teachers. I encourage each of you and your students who are interested in or are going to be ag teachers to mark your calendars for two upcoming Teach Ag events that celebrate the future of ag education.

 

Event: The NAAE National Teach Ag Campaign Agricultural Education Declaration Ceremony

Recognizing those who will mentor the next generation of leaders, motivate students through quality classroom and lab instruction, leadership development and experiential learning and make a difference in our schools in communities by being an agriculture teacher. #TeachAg

Cap and gown attire requested for all declaration participants.

Thursday, May 28, 2020
1:30pm EDT
Zoom Link coming soon!

 

Event: The NAAE National Teach Ag Campaign Agricultural Education Graduation Ceremony

Recognizing those who will mentor the next generation of leaders, motivate students through quality classroom and lab instruction, leadership development and experiential learning and make a difference in our schools in communities by being an agriculture teacher. #TeachAg

Cap and gown attire requested for all declaration participants.

Friday, May 29, 2020
1:30pm EDT
Zoom Link coming soon!

 

I hope that each of you are finding as much inspiration in this book as I am. I feel that this book could not have found our virtual book club and us at a better time. We may be Marching Off the Map, but at least we are able to do so together. Let’s keep our heads up and binoculars handy as we clear the path for our future ag teachers to have a voice and make a difference in ag education.

 

If you ever have any questions about the National Teach Ag Campaign, please feel free to reach out to me at afristoe.naae@uky.edu. I am happy to help you out!

 

Happy Reading & Reflecting!

Andrea

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