My friend Janice has been using her blog to keep us up-to-date on the flooding of the Mississippi River over the past couple of weeks as its been affecting Memphis, where she lives. Thankfully, all of her family is alright and none of her possessions have been damaged. She’s been one of the lucky ones, though, and I’m keeping in my thoughts all of those people who have no home to go to now and are trying to figure out where to go next. I can’t even fathom what it’s like to be in that situation and hope everything turns out alright in the end.
In honor of National Teach Ag Day, I wanted to share my vision of the power of agricultural educators. As the daughter of an ag teacher, I was practically born in a blue, corduroy FFA jacket and had Ag Sales CDE practicums memorized better than the high school kids when I was 10. To this day, it catches me off guard when someone has never heard of high school agricultural education, since I was raised with it from day 1 – my dad’s first year teaching was the year I was born.
Growing up in the classroom, it was really easy to see the impact a single teacher can make on so many students. When I was 5, I was at the meeting where my dad announced to his chapter officers that he would be leaving the school to take a new position. There were lots of tears and sadness — he had made such a difference in a few short years that these students obviously had formed a connection and did not want him to leave. In the years after we moved, I got to watch as he mentored students who went on to become USDA meat inspectors, agronomy researchers, 4-H leaders, and – like him – ag teachers. I also got to see his former students go on to become more important things, like husbands and wives, moms and dads, and friends. I like to think that, even though not solely responsible, ag teachers do play a role in developing youth so they can be the most successful in the latter roles.
I’m now a senior at Michigan State University and, like my dad, I am majoring in Agriscience Education. Next year, I will student teach with another great ag teacher and work to learn as much as I can about youth, education and agriculture. I’ll admit, I have my moments when I don’t know if being an agriculture teacher is the right career choice for me. Who knows, life may throw a curve ball my way and take me down another path. For the meantime, however, whenever I have one those ‘moments’ I think about my life with agricultural education and the difference ag teachers – including my dad – have made for me. It would be my greatest hope to make that difference for others.
When my boyfriend and I watch our beloved Spartans play, we tend to have different attitudes when they’re losing. Yesterday, we got to experience this difference full force when the guys went down (rather painfully) to Alabama 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl.
See, when our team is losing by a lot, Mitch tends to want to turn the TV off and find something else to do. His point is ‘Why do you want to put yourself through this? It’s not going to get any better!’. I, however, tend to leave the television on and watch until the end. Yes, it’s probably just masochism where football is involved, but that dedication is kind of part of my personality.
When I start something, I can’t help but follow through until it’s completed. That was instilled in me by my dad when I was little. Even if we started a sport or project that we ended up not liking or wasn’t going well, we didn’t get to stop in the middle of a season or leave our teammates hanging. Today, even when I take on too much, I feel a sense of responsibility to keep pushing until I’ve finished what I committed to doing.
I think that’s a trait that’s heavy in agriculture (even if Mitch doesn’t like it where it’s related to the Spartans!). Farmers and other agriculturalists stick through weather, tough markets, family challenges and more – no matter what it takes, because they’ve made a commitment to providing Americans with a safe and consistent food supply. I hope that a new generation of agriculturalists, including young farmers, gardeners and those joining the local food movement, carry this characteristic with them as they face struggles to reach success.
Now, I shouldn’t beat Mitch up too bad. There is also something to be said for people who recognize something is not working, ditch it and move on to the next thing that could be a success. I actually think there’s a little of both personalities in most of us. What about you? Are you one to cheer on your team even though they’re dying a slow, painful death? Or do you realize that your time could be better spent by moving on?