Dirt Road Charm

Motherhood, Agriculture, and everything in between

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guest Post: FFA....Through the Eyes of an Ag Teacher

For all of you who may not know, this week is National FFA Week.  This was one of my favorite times during school because the Vo-Ag class would have a ton of activities going on throughout the week: such as an FFA spirit week, small animal petting zoo, we would serve breakfast for the faculty and staff, and many other exciting activities.  In honor of this wonderful week I thought it would be a great idea to have a guest post from an Ag teacher and I found Ohio's finest to share her thoughts!  Meet Jessica Tracey from North Central FFA

"With FFA Week upon us, I find it essential to do a little “public education” on the organization itself, and why this week is celebrated nationally. As an agriculture instructor, I commonly find myself engaging in conversations with student’s parents where they recall their fond memories of “Vo Ag” and FFA. Usually the stories are of setting things on fire in the ag shop, or doing something mischievous on a FFA trip that I would no doubt kick my students out of my program for. I usually just laugh and explain how much has changed since their days in the program.
In 1988, the Future Farmers of America changed their name to the National FFA Organization to reflect the growing diversity among FFA members as well as the agriculture industry itself. There are FFA chapters in each of the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Yes, there are FFA chapters in Chicago, New York City, and various other large cities where one would not think an agricultural organization would be found. The National FFA is home to over 500,000 members, making it the largest youth organization in the world! We see ourselves less as of a group, or “club,” and more of a family with one common goal: to spread the word about the amazing industry that is agriculture, and why it’s so important to us, and should be important to everyone.
Now in my sixth year of teaching, I entered into this profession to share my passion for agriculture with others, and to show students that it does indeed impact every aspect of their life. Also, FFA was what occupied most of my time in high school; I was by no means athletic, and I worked at a local veterinary clinic after school, so what extra time I did have was limited. I guess you could say that FFA broke me out of my “shell.” I was pretty quite and very focused on academics in high school...and probably borderline social phobic. By competing if judging contests, and being a part of something bigger, I began to develop leadership skills and was no longer afraid to make myself heard. I chose this occupation to provide students the opportunity to experience what I did, and develop a love and appreciation for agriculture.
I could go on for hours about how teachers are taken for granted and people view them as “glorified babysitters,” and how that’s wrong; but I won’t. Teacher’s shouldn’t be chastised for getting the summer off...anyone else could have gotten their degree in education, and besides, ag teachers DON’T get summers off! Most ag teachers work on what is called “extended time,” I have 25 extended days each school year, I probably work 60 or more extra days each year. People, students especially, have no idea how much extra time is put into being a FFA advisor. I spend numerous amounts of my personal time and money ensuring that my students are given the best FFA experiences I can offer them.
The most common thing I hear from students that are contemplating taking an ag class is “But I don’t want to be a farmer” and I say “Great, becasuse I’m not going to teach you to be a farmer!” Agriculture has become so much more than farming, and the diversity in our ag classes is a reflection of that. Don’t be afraid of the unknown, talk to your local FFA advisor if you have questions and sign up for an ag class, you won’t regret it!"

                               A full house at National FFA Convention held in Indianapolis, IN
Some of the greatest parts of being in FFA is getting to attend judging contests. Here are a couple  
students during the Soils Judging.
And you cannot forget the Corduroy Jacket!!

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