Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Victoria Herr (@Victoria_Herr) is Living to Serve as National #TeachAg Ambassador!


Victoria Herr, National Teach
Ag Ambassador
A @TeachAGPSU star  has been chosen from nationwide pool of student applicants to serve as a National Teach Ag Ambassador! Our very own Victoria Herr (Victoria_Herr) will be spending the next year as a member of the team of 12 National Teach Ag Ambassadors.

Victoria Herr is a junior at Penn state majoring in Agriculture Education and member of the 2019 Ag Ed cohort (#psuaged19). She served as the 2014-2015 Pennsylvania State FFA (@PA_FFA) Secretary and is very dedicated student who is involved with the Teach Ag! Society, Alpha Tau Alpha and numerous other clubs on campus that are motivated to teach others about the agriculture industry. When asked what drew her to apply to become a Teach Ag Ambassador, Victoria said “One of the main reasons I was drawn to apply is because I love to talk about and advocate for agriculture education. I’m a very talkative and passionate person so when I get to talk about something I love, I always enjoy it! I knew that serving as a National Teach Ag Ambassador would give me lots of opportunities to meet prospective Ag teachers and encourage them on their journeys! I also think it’s always really important to give back; I have always had mentors in Ag Ed and I wanted to do the same for other students!”



Victoria at the Alpha Tau Alpha
inductee ceremony.
A Teach Ag Ambassador, Victoria’s main goal will to be to encourage others to consider a career as an Agriculture Educator. She will do this by sharing her passion and enthusiasm about the industry and profession with others through emails, social media, presentations and other outlets that include the campaign at the National FFA (@NationalFFA) Convention. She will also work with local and state leaders in agriculture education to inspire youth to pursue a major and career in agriculture education. Victoria is most excited about “…the National FFA Convention because I will get to spend the week with the rest of the other National Teach Ag Ambassadors and we will get a lot of time with FFA members! National Convention is always a special time and I’m excited to be spending this upcoming convention in a different role. I have spent several years at National Convention myself as a member and can now spend the week serving the FFA members!”

There is an ongoing shortage of agriculture teachers across the country. There are numerous retirements, new programs opening, current programs expanding and teachers going on to pursue other opportunities every year which lead to this shortage. This is why it is so important for the Teach Ag Ambassadors to promote and help students find their passion to teach! National Teach Ag Campaign Project Director, Ellen Thompson expresses why the ambassadors are imperative to the growth of the profession when she stated,
“As the number of agricultural education programs continues to grow, we need more quality and diverse agriculture teachers to fill the roles. The ambassador program gives us an opportunity to deliver the Teach Ag message to a bigger audience, while investing in the next generation of agriculture teachers.”
Ellen Thompson (@ellencthompson),
National Teach 
Ag Campaign Project Director
As mentioned earlier, Victoria will be spending her year of service with eleven other college students hailing from various institutes across the nations ranging from Oregon State University all the way to Florida A&M University. Each of these new Ambassadors are just as passionate about the Agriculture Industry and Agriculture Education as Victoria is. When asked why it is important to serve as an Ambassador, Victoria said:

I think it is important for students in our major to consider serving in a position such as National Teach Ag Ambassador because it allows them to gain a lot of experience as well as give back. Opportunities like this give student lots of public speaking experience, facilitating and planning experience, and allows them to make lots of connections. And as I mentioned before, I think it’s really important to give back. When we think about it, most of us have been influenced by past teachers and students, so now it’s our turn to do that. I hope that through my role as an Ambassador, I am able to encourage my peers to take on similar positions!”

Victoria (#psuaged19) along with George Dietrich (@TheGeorge4H), left (#psuaged18),
represented @TeachAgPSU in the 2017 Penn State Homecoming Parade!




Macy Fisher, Student Blogger
Twitter Handle: @macy_fisher
#psuaged18 member
2018 Selinsgrove Student Teacher







Monday, June 19, 2017

Evelyn Zaleski (@CuteEvyAnn) HIRED!! #psuaged17 member hired at Davey Tree (@DaveyTree) in Virginia!

Evelyn Zaleski #psuaged17

Zaleski in the McGuffey greenhouse.



2017 Penn State Graduate, Evelyn Zaleski (@CuteEvyAnn) is quickly putting her Agriculture and Extension Education degree to work as she was recently hired at the Davey Tree Expert Company (@DaveyTree) in Gainesville, Virginia. Her official job title is the Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Coordinator where she will get to travel throughout her region consisting of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia preforming her duties. Some of her duties require her to create and teach lesson plans at schools as part of her recruiting tactics; this is where her degree and classroom experience come in perfect!

Evelyn teaching Ag students.
As mentioned, Evelyn is a 2017 graduate of Penn State where she was an active member of the Teach Ag! Society, Collegiate FFA and Students for Cultivating Change. She also served as the President of the Penn State Grange. She completed her student teaching experience in Washington County, Pennsylvania at McGuffey High School under the guidance of her cooperating teachers Renee Cambruzzi (@cambruzzir) and John Leasure. While teaching an array of classes ranging from Greenhouse Management, Floral and Landscape Design, both Introduction and Advanced Mechanics, and several others she has gained unique experiences and made lasting memories. Some of the interesting things she was able to do during her experience was harvest honey from the bee hives the FFA cares for, host a Career Development Event, and attended a local 4-H meeting to interact with the community. 

When asked what her favorite memory of student teaching was, Evelyn said “I don’t have one specific favorite memory, but I definitely loved having my students dissect plants to learn the parts of a flower because they were so interested and excited to learn. I also was amazed when the students had a benefit dinner for another Ag teacher who was really sick. The kids and community came together to put on such a great event and were able to raise over $13,000.00 in just 6 hours! I also had such fun with my students, especially when they decided to try and do the mannequin challenge!” 
McGuffey student working on a
floriculture project.

Evelyn is originally from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania so her new job will definitely take her from her hometown but she is excited to see new places and meet new people. While working at Davey Tree Expert Company, she will be meeting with managers from all over her region and getting to know the members of each crew. She will also be responsible for finding candidates for jobs and be in charge of their hiring process. While recruiting people to work for Davey, she will be traveling to career fairs, schools, and meeting people in the forestry industry to teach them of Davey Tree Experts and the career possibilities available. Evelyn has already been working for three weeks and says “I really enjoy meeting all these new and interesting people, the employees who are climbing trees are my favorite though.” This is probably because while attending Penn State, she was able to take a class on tree climbing and she ended up loving every day of that class. She also was drawn to this job because it is such a unique position where she is able to interact with all different types of people and it is an employee owned company which means she can use part of her salary to purchase stock and own part of the company; this is a great opportunity for a young college graduate! Davey Tree Expert is also very environmentally conscious. They have flooring that is made of all recycled materials, use natural lighting in the building, and all the water is filtered and recycled. 

Zaleski & Cambruzzi teaching a
 flower arranging class.


“My job is really cool! We are allowed to bring our dogs to work which makes for a great work atmosphere. We also have a green roof where we can eat lunch and we have walking trails behind the building that we are encouraged to use when we need a break from daily tasks! Between traveling to different crews and the other aspects of my job, I have only had to work in my office two times so far of my three weeks here!”

As Evelyn goes forth from Penn State, she would like to leave this advice for students looking to pursue a degree in Agriculture Education, “First of all dive in! Close your eyes and immerse yourself into whatever you are doing. And once you have worked hard and reached the finish line, take a moment to realize what an accomplishment you have made! This is a major where you never stop improving and learning, ever after you graduate! I may not currently be an agriculture teacher but I am still part of the PSU Ag Ed family and that is something that you can easily an honor that you carry with you for the rest of your life!”

Macy Fisher, Student Blogger
Twitter Handle: @macy_fisher
#psuaged18 member
2018 Selinsgrove Student Teacher





Monday, June 12, 2017

Core Values of @TeachAgPSU

Our inspirational task is diligently focus on cultivating, inspiring, coaching, developing and mentoring generations of IMPACTFUL agriscience teachers.

At a recent @TeachAGPSU Purpose Session when exploring our "WHY" [See Video Below], our agricultural teacher education faculty (Dr. John Ewing, @jce122; Dr. Kevin Curry, @KevinWCurry; Dr. Laura Rice, @LauraSankeyRice; and Dr. Daniel Foster, @FosterDanielD) articulated the Vision, Mission and top 10 core values of the @TeachAgPSU Agricultural Teacher Preparation Program. 

 

With a team effort (like our great students who share the @TeachAgPSU Family Creed here), we are confident that we be a part of the solution for schools and communities across the world.

Vision: 

To develop digitally-literate, globally minded 21st century positive agents of change for agricultural education.

Mission: 

@TeachAgPSU develops agriscience teachers who are prepared to teach where learners are in need. 

Core Values of the
PSU Agriscience Teacher Preparation Program

The Penn State Agriscience Teacher Education Program cultivates and values agriscience teachers who are:

I. Philosophically sound in career technical education principles and the three component model of agricultural education including applied STEM classroom instruction, work-based learning (Supervised Agricultural Experience), and the leadership laboratory of youth organizations (FFA) 

II. Inclusive of ALL students and value diversity in their classrooms. 

III. Skilled in technical agricultural science content knowledge.

IV. Prepared to utilize effective pedagogical methods to successfully plan, implement, and assess agriscience instruction to impact student learning.

V. Reflective practitioners devoted to lifelong learning.

VI. Servant-leaders in the classroom, school, and community.

VII. Committed to the engagement of external stakeholders in a purposeful, systematic process for enhanced student, school, and community success.

VIII. Committed, life-long members of a professional learning community prepared to integrate cross-curricular learning opportunities.

IX. Dedicated to academic proficiency while prioritizing the scholastic growth of all students.

X. Digitally-literate, connected educators who are progressive in adopting appropriate technologies to advance professional growth and student learning.

We welcome your comments and thoughts on our reflective process! Thank you for sharing.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

@TeachAgPSU Family Helping College of Agricultural Sciences be Inclusive

Dr. MeeCee Baker,
Versant Strategies
A newly started club at Penn State University, Students for Cultivating Change, received a gracious gift last week from an alumna member. MeeCee Baker graduated from Penn State in 1982 (#psuaged82) with a bachelor’s in Agriculture and Extension Education and later earned her doctorate in Agriculture Education also from Penn State. Baker has served as the first woman president of the National Association of Agriculture Educators (www.naae.org), was a faculty member at Penn State and North Carolina State, and worked at Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. She is now the owner of Versant Strategies (versantstrategies.net) which is a firm that works with agriculture, environmental and rural issues where Caleb Wright  (@TheWrightCaleb; #psuaged14) serves as chief operating officer.


Caleb Wright, COO
Versant Strategies
Wright is also Penn State graduate who earned his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Extension Education in 2014. This gift to the college is a tribute to Caleb. In Baker’s words ‘I wanted to honor him, and since he's an active participant in the national Cultivating Change organization, I thought the support of Penn State's affiliated club would be appreciated."

Baker’s gift consists of a $20,000 endowment for students who are enrolled in the College of Agricultural Sciences and demonstrate advocacy for the LGBTQA community by being an active member of the Students for Cultivating Change club. She also is pledging $1,000 a year for the next five years to support the award, Baker Students for Cultivating Change Award.

Members of Penn State Student's Cultivating Change Club
In her words "It's especially important to me to support students and education, and I encourage others to do the same, no matter what amount.” She is a true advocate for student success as she stated, "I hope this gift lifts up Students for Cultivating Change and lets them know there are alumni and others who recognize they are a vital part of the agricultural industry and revel in their successes." The college is honored and thankful of Dr. Baker’s gift and admires her for advocacy of student inclusion, respect and acceptance in agriculture!

To read more about Baker, Wright and the gift to the college, read the article at the following link http://news.psu.edu/story/468932/2017/05/19/administration/baker-gift-support-college-agricultural-sciences-lgbtqa

Thank you MeeCee and Caleb for investing in the future of Penn State's Cultivating Change student organization! Alumni like you are what make our University so great!


Macy Fisher, Student Blogger
Twitter Handle: @macy_fisher
#psuaged18 Cohort Member

Saturday, May 20, 2017

5th Annual Domestic Study Away Day Six: "Seeking through Service"


Editor's Note:What is a Domestic Study Away? A Domestic Study Away (DSA) is a non-credit experience that is 100% Student-Developed and Student-led. The Penn State Teach Ag! Society runs where a group of students travel to a State to explore the following:

1. What does #AgEdu look like in other states? How is the total model of school-based agricultural education (Classroom Instruction, Youth Leadership Development <FFA> and Work-based learning <SAE>) uniquely provided?

2. Who are the #AgEdu Stakeholders in the state? Specifically, what agricultural industry is being served?

3. A unique yearly selected professional development topic! For #psuaged2WI, it is "Gender in the Agriculture Industry, Agricultural Classroom and Agricultural Education Profession.

You can virtually-engage with this experience by reading and commenting on the daily blogs and following the experience on Twitter and Facebook with our hashtag #PSUAgEd2WI. We could not complete this transformative learning experience with out the incredible support of our partners including: The Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators, The Wisconsin Team Ag Ed, The Penn State Center for Professional and Personnel Development and the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Student Activities Fund.


This is a series of blogs capturing reflections from each day of the experience by one of the participants. Below is the sixth day reflections of Macy Fisher (@macy_fisher), a member of the #psuaged18 cohort. Macy will be completing her student teaching internship with Ms. Valerie Fry of the Selinsgrove Agriscience Program in Selinsgrove, Pa. The reflection focus is the sixth official day of DSA visiting LaClare Dairy Goat Farm, Bonlander Furs Mink Ranch, an afternoon full of service learning projects and finishing the night at a Wisconsin Supper Club.

Clara Hedrich, retired from #AgEdu after 39 years and
owner of LaClara Farm

On Saturday May 13th, we began our daily adventures at LaClare Dairy Goat Farm which is owned by Larry and Clara Hedrich and four of their children. The farm began in 1978 when they purchased 22 acres to start a small dairy goat herd for their children to show through 4-H. After Larry working in construction and Clara teaching Agriculture Education for 39 years, they decided to stay home and expand their operation. In 1996, they decided to purchase milking machines and in the following years kept adding more and more to their farm. In 2008 was when their very first batch of cheese was created named Evalon. This cheese won LaClare Farms their very first award as the United State Champion Cheese, raising above all other dairy and goat cheese to take the title. Each of their children were given the same opportunity to return to the farm however they had to first receive a college education and then work for someone else for 2 years before they could return home. This is when they had their son, Greg, and three of their daughters, Anna, Jessica, and Kate, all realized that they wanted to come back home and make their farm flourish. In 2012, ground was broke at their current location where they have the milk facility, retail store, and all the equipment to produced their cheeses as well as the holding barn for their milking herd of 900 goats. The head consists of 4 different breeds of goats: Nubians, Alpines, Saanen, Toggenburg. For every 1 cow that a dairy farm milks, it takes 10 dairy goats to milk the equivalency. Before heading to our next destination, Clara left us with some things to reflect on. “Work smart and always be on the cutting edge that way you are known for something but don’t try to come in on your first day of teaching a try to save the world, ease your way into the back door. Ag teachers are unique, we get to do what we teach, how many English teachers have published a book?”

   


As we thought about what Clara had told us, we traveled not far down the road to the Bonlander Furs Mink Ranch. This is a family ran mink ranch that started in 1978. They originally had a chicken operation, however the mink farms in the surrounding areas would have an occasional mink get loose which would travel to the chicken farm in search of food. After catching several of the these wandering minks and talking to other local mink ranchers, the Bonlander’s decided to try their hand at raising minks. This made them the 5th mink farm in an 8 mile radius.


The farm currently has 850 females all of which have just had babies. Minks can have anywhere between 3 and 14 babies! Each mink is kept in its own separate cage with a nesting box for their babies. Babies are born with no hair and are about the size of a pinkie finger; they quickly grow to be chubby, furry babies who can be separated from their mothers after 6 to 8 weeks. The most valuable pelts will be found on minks that are are up to 2 years in age. The pelts are sold on average for $40/pelt at an auction in Canada where most are bought by China to be made into mink coats, jackets, hat and other various clothing. It takes on average 50 male pelts or 90 female pelts just to make one jacket that will be sold for $10,000.00! Minks are also so used for musk and colognes and also water proof oil used on boots and leather. All of us were amazed by this unique industry and learned that Wisconsin is the number one producer of mink in the United States!

In the afternoon, we headed to the local church to start our Service Learning Activities. We started by learning about the Holyland Food Pantry. The church used the empty parsonage building and set up the pantry like a store. Local businesses donated shelving, refrigerators, and freezers as well as many food products. There are also several donation locations where community members can drop off any food that can be used at the pantry. Donations can also be given through the mail carrier. Every house is given a bag that can be filled and then hung on the mailbox which is then brought to the pantry. Local farmers also give ground beef, milk, eggs and butter that families can take. Anyone is welcome to come each month to the “shopping day” where families are given a number and are called one at a time to shop individually. The pantry is always in need of donations, especially bottled water and will always accept a helping hand to volunteer.


We also learned about the Pens for Hens project which was started as by the local FFA members. They used the idea for the National Ag Sales contest where chicken pens would be build in Haiti using the metal and wood scraps that are readily available in the small towns and villages. The idea flourished and now local chapters build their own pens and auction them off. The proceeds are then sent to Haiti for villages to continue to construct pens. 
We also learned from a town carpenter about how to construct a lending library. He taught us the tricks and tips of how to construct these small boxes that serve as a library. The kids in the community can come and take a book to read and return it or any other book back to the library.


The interesting service learning project was the final one of the day where we were helping to restore the cemetery. Some of us were using Ammonia and soapy water to clean old head stones that you could not longer read, while others were helping to unearth fallen headstones that were buried in inches of soil. The stones were the placed in a bed of pebbles and cleaned. Many of us were inspired by this project and knew that we wanted to do the same process at cemeteries back home.


We ended our day by going to a Wisconsin Famous Supper Club. None of us had ever experienced a Supper Club before and were not sure what to expect. This is a long time tradition in Wisconsin and we had to go to one before we left! The Supper Club we attended was Jim and Linda’s Lakeview Supper Club which sits right on the edge of Lake Winnebago. We were able to mingle and converse with many of the people we had met during our week thus far including our superstar hosts who planned our week and connected us with each stop of our DSA trip. After enjoying our meals, some of our group decided to climb the tower that sits outside the Supper Club. From the top, you have an amazing view out over the lake. As the evening came to an end, our group decided to sit and watch the sunset on the lake. We had a time to just sit, think and reflect on how far we had come in the short week. It was a peaceful and relaxing way to end the day.



Day 6 gave us a new outlook on what our students and programs can do for our communities and how to serve others. I stand by the saying of many hand make little work, and today as instilled that in each of us. We all are refreshed and full of bright new ideas of how as an Agriculture Educator we can help our students to become helping hands in the world. We would like to thank everyone who mad our day successful and are grateful of the stories and advice shared with us though out the day!



Macy Fisher
#psuaged18
@macy _ fisher





Thursday, May 18, 2017

5th Annual Domestic Study Away Day Eight: " Success from State to State"

Editor's Note: What is a Domestic Study Away? A Domestic Study Away (DSA) is a non-credit experience that is 100% Student-Developed and Student-led. The Penn State Teach Ag! Society runs where a group of students travel to a State to explore the following:
  1. What does #AgEdu look like in other states? How is the total model of school-based agricultural education (Classroom Instruction, Youth Leadership Development <FFA> and Work-based learning <SAE>) uniquely provided? 
  2. Who are the #AgEdu Stakeholders in the state? Specifically, what agricultural industry is being served? 
  3. A unique yearly selected professional development topic! For #psuaged2WI, it is "Gender in the Agriculture Industry, Agricultural Classroom and Agricultural Education Profession. 
You can virtually-engage with this experience by reading and commenting on the daily blogs and following the experience on Twitter and Facebook with our hashtag #PSUAgEd2WI. We could not complete this transformative learning experience with out the incredible support of our partners including: The Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators, The Wisconsin Team Ag Ed, The Penn State Center for Professional and Personnel Development and the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Student Activities Fund.

Below is a reflection by George Dietrich (@TheGeorge4H), a member of the #psuaged18 cohort. George is a dual major in Agricultural and Extension Education and Food Science at Penn State, and he will be completing his student teaching internship with Ms. Darla Romberger (@DJR_131) of the Cumberland Valley Agriscience Program (@CV_Agrisciences) in Mechanicsburg, PA. The reflection focus is the eighth and final official day of the Domestic Study Away.

Our morning started bright and early in the state of Wisconsin where we loaded the van and headed to visit Big Foot High School in Walworth, Wisconsin. Here we had a chance to visit with #PSUAgEd14 Alumni Jeanne Case (@J_Case) and the rest of Big Foot's Agricultural Education team! Immediately we paired up with students in her class, went out to the green house, and learned about their current lab. Each student was able to choose what and how they would conduct their research project, as long as it met certain criteria. Talk about student ownership!

We also had the chance to talk with Ms. Case and Ms. Konke about their experiences teaching. The Big Foot Agriscience program is very strong and teaches students a variety of technical science skills along with critical thinking skills that comes from inquiry based learning. It was impressive that these students were already gaining experience with micropipettes and electrophoresis units. Non traditional SAE projects were also prevalent at Big Foot. In fact, one student was researching a way to bind certain proteins in peanuts so people with peanut allergies can eat them!

After saying goodbye to Jeanne at Big Foot High School, we headed on down the road to Pontiac Township High School in Illinois to visit Mr. Parker Bane (@ParkerBane) and Mr. Jesse Faber (@therealjfaber). We had a very productive discussion on plans after high school with his senior landscaping class, and then led some fun leadership activities with his Intro to Ag class. The entire school was having an assembly that day, so we got to go and watch student be recognized for all of their had work and accomplishments. It was really nice to see, wouldn't it be great if all schools took the time to thank their students?

Following the assembly and a tasty ice cream treat, we had the chance to talk to Parker and Jesse about the joys and struggles of being a multi teacher program. We discussed a plethora of topics and it was really nice to have an open, honest conversation. To be a good teacher, it's all about the relationships you build with your students (can someone say van ride memories?).

Jesse took us out to Mackinson Dairy Farm to meet with his wife, Mary. Mary is a Controller of a local cooperative and also manages her family farm's social media presence. We learned about how important it is to maintain a professional presence as an agricultural advocate on social media. Mary did a great job connecting her knowledge of social media back to how we can implement and manage a social media presence for an Agricultural Education program!

5th Annual Domestic Study Away Reflection: “A Journey of Growth and Cheese Curds”

Editor's Note:
What is a Domestic Study Away? A Domestic Study Away (DSA) is a non-credit experience that is 100% Student-Developed and Student-led. The Penn State Teach Ag! Society runs where a group of students travel to a State to explore the following:
  1. What does #AgEdu look like in other states? How is the total model of school-based agricultural education (Classroom Instruction, Youth Leadership Development <FFA> and Work-based learning <SAE>) uniquely provided? 
  2. Who are the #AgEdu Stakeholders in the state? Specifically, what agricultural industry is being served? 
  3. A unique yearly selected professional development topic! For #psuaged2WI, it is "Gender in the Agriculture Industry, Agricultural Classroom and Agricultural Education Profession".
You can virtually engage with this experience by reading and commenting on the daily blogs and following the experience on Twitter and Facebook with our hashtag #PSUAgEd2WI. We could not complete this transformative learning experience without the incredible support of our partners including: The Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators, The Wisconsin Team Ag Ed, The Penn State Center for Professional and Personnel Development and the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Student Activities Fund.

This is a series of blogs capturing reflections from each day of the experience by one of the participants. The goal is to post the daily reflection 24 hours after completion of activity. Below is the final reflection prepared by Rosalind Cowan (@cowan_rosalind), a member of the #psuaged18 cohort and the 2017 Domestic Study Away Chair.

As I sit on campus in Happy Valley, my mind and heart are just overflowing with newfound knowledge and gratitude. For the past 9 days, we have been traveling all over the state of Wisconsin engaging with rock star Ag Ed programs and agriculture industry partners. We grew both personally and professionally as we explored our professional development focus of Gender in the agriculture industry, secondary Agricultural Education programs, and the Agricultural Education profession. It has been a whirlwind of a trip, but I think I can speak for all of us when I say that this year’s Domestic Study Away to Wisconsin has been full of inspiration, new friends, impactful growth, and last but not least, a ton of cheese curds.

#PSUAgEd2WI Fast Facts!

1. 9 days

2. 8 students (7 students from #psuaged18, 1 student from #psuaged19)

3. 1 van

4. 6 states (PA, OH, IN, IL, WI, MN)

We reached America's Dairyland
5. 8 primary/secondary Agricultural Education Programs: East Tech HS, Holmen HS, New Richmond HS, School for Agricultural and Environmental Studies, Randolph HS, Kewaskum HS, Big Foot Union HS, and Pontiac Township HS.

6. 11 Teach Ag Stars with OVER 220 YEARS OF COMBINED TEACH AG EXPERIENCE: Jeremy Grove, Roger King, Rachel Sauvola, Sheri Hicken, Keith Gundlach, Dave Rizzardi, Jeanne Case, Lori Schmitz, Jesse Faber, Parker Bane, and Linda Sattler.

7. 10 Ag Ed Related Partners: University Wisconsin – River Falls, Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Madison College, Holyland Food Pantry, St. Paul's Church, Pens for Hens, iCEV, Stewart-Peterson AgEd.net, Wisconsin FFA Foundation, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

8. 11 Industry Partners: Wetherby Cranberry Co., Accelerated Genetics, Foremost Farms, Culver’s, Jung Seed, Mackinson Dairy, LaClare Farms, Bluestream Bison Farm, Second Look Holsteins, and Bonlander Furs Mink Ranch.

While reflecting on our adventures and reflections we had each day, I am overwhelmed by how much we experienced and learned. The impact of this year’s Domestic Study Away extends far beyond the opportunity to experience Agricultural Education and the agriculture industry in another state. Take a look at our other blogs from this week to gain even more insight on our day-to-day experiences. Overall, here are four important themes from this year’s Domestic Study Away that will hopefully help you understand the power of #PSUAgEd2WI.

Four Important Take Aways from #PSUAgEd2WI

1. Ag Ed is for EVERYONE, and as teachers, we are responsible for creating that culture and environment for our students. 
Learning about urban culture at East Tech HS
Whether we are talking about gender, race, or religion, we learned on this trip that the Agricultural Education teacher plays a central role in developing and maintaining a learning environment that is welcoming and supportive to all. At East Tech FFA with Jeremy Grove and his students, we learned about cultural differences and how to make FFA cool for everyone! One quote really stuck out when discussing minority and urban populations in FFA: “Instead of trying to always immerse us in your culture, immerse yourself in ours”.

Discussing gender in Ag during our LGBTQ Panel
Then, at Madison College, we had the chance to have a respectful, honest, and insightful panel discussion with five LGBTQ+ individuals. They volunteered their time to come and discuss their experiences being an LGBTQ+ individual, both in their careers in the agriculture industry and their experiences in secondary classrooms. We learned the importance of recognizing all students as individuals, not tolerating any derogatory comments between students, and not gender labeling activities (such as having only boys do jobs that involve lifting). Here are some wise non-negotiable rules for our future classrooms: “As a student, you can’t: Risk Lives, Risk Grades, or Risk self-esteem/self-worth”.

2. Community is INVALUABLE, just ASK.
Culver's supports agriculture and local FFA chapters
As new and upcoming teachers, I think sometimes we feel like we have to do it all, whether it is because we feel like we have something to prove or aren’t sure how to get help. However, there is simply no reason to feel this way! Every teacher we visited told us how they created relationships and engaged their community around the Ag Ed program: Be INVOLVED both in and outside of the Ag Ed program and JUST ASK. A secondary Agricultural Educator only has so much time and energy, which is where community involvement plays a huge role. We got to meet with community members and FFA Alumni chapters at many of the programs we visited, as well as engage with Ag Ed related partners, and it was both inspiring and touching to see the relationships between the Ag teacher and their community. 

3. Student Ownership, Student Voice, and Autonomy are Key to Student Success 
Students rock their lesson at their Food for America event
From the beginning to the very end of our trip, we witnessed the value of students having ownership in their work at every place we visited. We learned the importance of each student having a niche or area within the program that they managed, instead of being involved with everything. This way, students made these projects or events their own and took pride in the work that they did. In the classroom, learning was inquiry based and promoted intrinsic motivation as well as confidence. We even got to try our hand at facilitating an inquiry based lesson! It was a great opportunity and we gained a lot from the students’ feedback.

We even got to experience the benefits of giving students ownership personally. We participated in service learning by helping Lori Schmitz and her husband restore and clean headstones at a local cemetery. Lori was an excellent educator; her passion combined with giving us ownership in the work that we accomplished made us passionate and excited about the work we were doing. 

4. #TeachAg is one big Family 
Learning how to clean and restore a cemetery
There are no words to express just how thankful we are for everyone we met and engaged with in WI. It seemed like the whole state welcomed us all week long! The kindness and hospitality we experienced throughout our trip was out-of-this-world and we enjoyed being able to get to know everyone. Windshield time turned into an opportunity for participants to talk one-on-one with our hosts for each day, and I know that we all made connections that will last much longer than those 9 days we were in WI.

Hanging out with our Ag Ed friends at UW River Falls!



Last but not least are the close bonds that you form with your fellow Ag Ed majors when you spend 9 days straight together in hotels and 1 van. You grow, learn, and laugh together, and by the end of the trip you feel like family. DSA helps you realize how thankful you are to have each and every participant be part of your #TeachAg journey.







Ag Ed students who travel together, stay together



Our 5th annual DSA trip to Wisconsin was definitely one to be remembered. Once again, thank you to all of our partners for helping make this trip such a success: The Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators, The Wisconsin Team Ag Ed, The Penn State Center for Professional and Personnel Development and the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Student Activities Fund. The future of Agricultural Education is bright! 

If you are interested in partnering with us in 2018, or would like to be considered as a 2019 destination, please contact me at rvc5334@psu.edu or our advisor, Dr. Daniel Foster at foster@psu.edu

TO READ MORE ABOUT OUR #PSUAGED2WI ADVENTURES, SEE:
CHECK OUT OUR #PSUAGED2WI PLAYLIST (20+ awesome videos)!








Rosalind Cowan

2018 Student Teacher

@cowan_rosalind