National Association of Agricultural Educators Teach Ag Ambassador at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky: Contributed by Toni Rasmussen
I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as a National Teach Ag Ambassador. Through this ambassador program, I traveled to Louisville, Kentucky for the National FFA Convention. During the week, as one of twelve ambassadors, I participated in training, a Teach Ag Workshop, an Agriscience workshop, and helped “man” the Teach Ag booth.
We first went through training to learn about the shortage of agricultural teachers and the reasons for the shortage. Surveys have been conducted and data has been collected that show the reasons we have a shortage includes Ag Ed majors are accepting non-teaching careers, the rigorous college admission standards, and lack of gender and ethnic diversity.
In the Teach Ag workshop, we split about 200 FFA members into 11 groups. Then, the ambassadors and current teachers moved around the groups telling them our background and answering questions about Ag Ed in college and about the agricultural teaching profession in general. In this, I learned a lot from current agricultural teachers about the differences in agriculture programs around the country.
The agriscience workshop was sponsored through DuPont Pioneer. Agricultural teachers learn about different labs and methods through a summer program. They then come to National FFA Convention and instruct other teachers on how to conduct the lab in their classrooms. In this session, I learned about inquiry learning and how to make my students think instead of thinking for them.
Finally, our main event was helping at the booth. This was a lot of fun and the time went by extremely fast. I talked to students about their career choices and tried to persuade them toward Ag Ed. Many students were already thinking about the major or were undecided. I told them the benefits, signed them up for email newsletters with the Teach Ag campaign, and talked to them about their competitions and agriculture programs.
Being a National Teach Ag Ambassador was one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life. I really enjoyed being able to talk to students and invest in our similar passion of agriculture and leadership. I learned so much about the profession of teaching agriculture and how to entice students to want to become agricultural teachers. While we may not have reached every student, I still felt as if we made a difference by giving them a bigger experience at the National FFA Convention.
Learn more by visiting http://www.naae.org/teachag/