Thursday, March 24, 2011

In Celebration of National Teach Ag. Day!

National Teach Ag Day is a day to celebrate school-based agricultural education and to encourage agricultural education advocates, especially current agricultural educators (middle school, high school, post-secondary, pre-service programs, etc.) to share with others the great career opportunities in agricultural education.  Agricultural education teaches students about agriculture, food and natural resources.  Through these subjects, agricultural educators teach students a wide variety of skills, including science, math, communications, leadership, management and technology.

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to a couple Ag teachers about their careers:

Mr. Ben Leu
Prairie Heights FFA Chapter Advisor

How many years have you been teaching Ag?
“I am in my 4th year of teaching.”

Why did you want to become an Ag teacher?
“Family tradition – my grandfather was an Ag teacher for over 35 years at Prairie Heights even through serving in the Army.  Being an Ag teacher that long and creating so many relationships and impacting so many students like he did made it seem like a logical decision especially after all my time in FFA.  So with that being said, a lot of it was my family and understanding the opportunities that come with receiving a degree of Ag Education.  I saw that there are countless benefits of becoming an Ag Teacher.”

What do you enjoy most about teaching Ag?
“The competitive nature of being an Ag Teacher and an FFA advisor is very enjoyable for me.  Just a few weeks ago we won Top Chapter in our district.   The other thing is working with students that you know probably wouldn’t succeed in other areas and finding a niche for them to fit into, and grow, and set them up for career success.”

What is your favorite CDE in FFA to have students compete in?
“My favorite CDEs would have to be the speeches and demonstrations.  I love to see a student who isn’t a great public speaker take a topic that they enjoy and put a demonstration together then present it well.  We push students to do just that a lot.  It’s amazing how many contests we can do in one year.  I’ve been impressed with our novice Chapter Meeting team that consists of 7th and 8th graders and Freshmen.  This year we were able to win district.  Competitions like that allow teachers to be able to see students of all ages shine.”

Do you have any success stories of any members you’ve taught over the years?
“The biggest success story in four years is tough to draw from all the students I’ve seen in four years now.  There is one student in particular that I’ve had in various Ag classes in the past four years.  He lives in what is probably not the nicest house you could imagine can comes from a tough home life.  He loves to fish, and before he came to us he had never been around Ag at all.  When he got into middle school we got him into fundamentals and now he stays every day after school helping around our Ag building and he takes care of our fish in our aquatic science tanks and has really found a niche to grow and develop in as he becomes more and more involved with us.  Watching him grow and watching him make positive life decisions because of his involvement with Ag is a perfect example of why Ag Education and FFA can have such a positive effect on students lives.”

Mrs. Diana Arellano
Knightstown FFA Chapter Advisor

How many years have you been teaching Ag?
“I’ve been teaching Ag for 4 years.”

Why did you want to become an Ag teacher?
“Becoming an Ag teacher was something that came to me very unexpectedly.  I fell into it. Looking back on it, it was a “by the grace of God” type event in my life and now looking back I wonder why I haven’t taught Ag for the last 20 years in my life instead of the past 4!  I love it and I’m having a great time doing it.”

What do you enjoy most about teaching Ag?
“I enjoy working with the students.  I enjoy the fast paced nature of it.  There is always something that changes.  Until you’re exposed to that educational environment, I feel that as you grow older you maybe stop learning information.  There is simply so much to learn out there in our Agriculture Industry and I enjoy learning about all I’ve been exposed to through Ag Education.”

Before teaching Ag, did you have an Ag background?
“I have an extensive background in agriculture.  I was raised on a purebred cattle operation.  I was involved in 4-H and FFA during my high school career.  I went on to Purdue University where I received an Animal Science Degree.  I spent some years working for some beef breed registries including the American Shorthorn Association in Omaha, Nebraska, as well as the American Gelbvieh Association in Denver Colorado.  And now, here I am employed as an Ag Teacher!”

What is your favorite CDE in FFA to have students compete in?
“My favorite CDE is Livestock Evaluation.  Simply because that’s where my background is, that’s where my passion is, and that’s where my interest is.  It’s my favorite to coach and recruit new people into.  I do love, in my new experience in teaching and FFA, seeing students compete in the Parliamentary Procedure CDE.  I’ve learned a lot about the CDE and I love seeing students step up to their leadership potential in that area.”

The state of Indiana was fortunate enough to receive a grant from the NAAE to assist our IAAE foundation.

Indiana is very lucky this year in being able to claim this year’s NAAE President, Greg Curlin of the Switzerland County FFA Chapter.

Visit these links to help in promoting National Teach Ag Day!

Vist National Teach Ag day on their website:

Follow TeachAg on Twitter:

Micah Matlock

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

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