Thoughts from the Combine

Contributed by:  Michelle Dvoracek

This past fall during harvest season, I had the opportunity to ride in not just one, but three different combines. Since I started college, I haven’t made it back every year to do this, but thanks to a class project I’m working on, combine rides were a bit more of a priority. Despite the rush of trying to get as much done as quickly as possible and the loud noise from the roaring machine, the whole experience seems to relax me for some reason. It makes for some good thinking time. Here are some of the things I thought about:

  • Some people do not understand how important combine rides are. The farmer is not doing this for fun. He or she is doing this because it is necessary to sustain the world.


  •  Combines are huge, intricate machines. They can do some amazing things, but if one little thing goes wrong, your whole day could be ruined.


  • If you want to go watch wildlife, go ride in a combine. Several animals find shelter in the field when there is a crop growing on it, and as the stocks come down, the critters come out. My list that I saw this year include: deer, raccoons, several species of birds, too many rabbits to count, and even a beautiful red fox.


  • Farmers are amazing people. They work day after day year-round to prepare for these few weeks. Then they sit in the combine for hours and manage to keep their sanity, and when they’re done, they start preparing for next year.


  • Plants are also pretty amazing. They braved the elements all summer long and are now being used to sustain the world.


  • No matter what aspect of the agricultural industry we are a part of, we need farmers. Pork producers need crops to feed to the pigs and we, as consumers, also need food and fuels like ethanol. Producers of all kinds need to work together.


The busy harvest season can be very stressful, but there is also something relaxing about it. It indicates that another year is coming to a close and that the holidays are just around the corner. Perhaps the next time you drive past a combine picking away in the field, you will think about things like this too. You don’t even have to be riding in the cab.


Nebraska Harvest

Nebraska Harvest


My dad, emptying soybeans from the combine into the truck as the sun sets behind him. Farmers put in long hours during harvest time.

National FFA Convention – A Bigger Experience

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.

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Pictured are the 2014 National Teach Ag Ambassadors:
The 12 Teach Ag ambassadors for the 2014-2015 academic year are Logan Dale, Mississippi State University; Taylor Fredrick, University of Missouri; Christopher Hartley, North Carolina A&T State University; Gerald Ray Hosler III, Oregon State University; Nathan James McMullen, South Dakota State University; Olivia Murphy-Sweet, Pennsylvania State University; Toni Rasmussen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Emily Reed, Northwest Missouri State University; Andrew Steiner, South Dakota State University; Matthew Summerlot, Purdue University; Riane Towery, Oregon State University and Katelyn Vincent, Kansas State University.