I have had to re-evaluate quite a bit about AgEd programs the past couple of weeks. AgEd and FFA are supposed to teach real world principles. I have always thought these programs did just this as well as or better than any other school programs. But, I have had to learn that this greenhouse deal and now, the agri-science program may be almost as good as a public speaking program.
The greenhouse, much like an ag mechanics shop, lets kids use their hands to directly learn skills and then can see the results. This agriscience program opens up a whole new set of opportunities for all kinds of kids. I am still learning about this, but I like what I see. The kids have to come up with a project, research it, develop it and then stand there in front of the judges and present it, then answer questions. Public speaking skills are a must, but they aren’t being judged on delivery as much as they are their knowledge. The playing field is pretty equal for all kids. Creativity and hard work are a must.
I enjoyed watching one of the ag teachers from Tipton watching his kids with their agriscience projects at the state contest. A lot of you goaters know Ronnie Nix. He ONLY had about 43 students competing. These kids had individual projects and team projects. The kids were giving their presentations to the judges. Some were nervous, some just wanted to get it over with and some were focused and ready to roll. They ended up having a bunch of high placers and their chapter won the Sweepstakes awards. It was truly a team effort and you could see the pride in all of the kids, parents and teachers from Tipton. It was cool.
I hauled five kids that competed. We had a pair of girls, Mercy and Diana, win state in their division, Duke was 2nd in his group and Alexis and Bethany were 5th. Not bad, considering their ag teacher has limitiations. After doing this, I can guarantee you that Duke’s parents will make him continue to compete in this program. Very worthwhile.
Speaking of real world. A school’s job is to prepare students for the real world. Sometimes, I think schools forget this. We all get too worked up about athletics, stock shows, drama or music contests. Now, don’t get me wrong, all of these programs help teach real world principals, such as work ethic, goal setting, success/defeat and teamwork. But, how many students are actually going to pay for college or have a career playing sports or showing animals? Yes, I know people that have done it in both areas, but they are the minority.
Let’s take a look at Stock Shows vs. the real world. Calves living in cooler rooms, hogs in chip barns, goats and sheep on strict exercise programs, etc. Too many animals are kept in the gene pool because they MIGHT raise a great one, even though they can’t reproduce on their own. Nobody can argue that this part of stock shows is applicable to the real world. It’s not. However, I will argue that stock shows kids have a better understanding of nutrition, animal health and current technology such as AI, ET, cloning and livestock evaluation skills. This all does translate into real world application and into future possible careers. Combine this with work ethic and goal setting and this is what makes a stock show program valuable. Not a banner. Although, if they are giving banners or trophies, then we might as well try to win it.
And since today’s topic is Real World and schools….I noticed that there were several agriscience research projects in the social division regarding the lack of AgEd teachers. I am well aware of this fact, beings how there wasn’t anybody that wanted the Shattuck job last year. I have also worked with several other schools this spring that have been trying to find new ag teachers. There just aren’t any out there. But I can tell you this much, if you want to get or keep a good teacher, do it just like they do in the real world…..PAY ‘EM! If you are trying to recruit a good teacher, pay them. Coaches, academic teachers, whatever. In the real world, you have to pay to get and keep good employees. Schools should be no different. Trust me, it is cheaper to pay more to keep a valued employee than it is to try to replace them with some unkown that probably won’t work out and then you have to start over again.