Friday, September 22, 2017

Welcome to the #TeachAg Family, Libby Baker-Mikesell (@baker_mi16)!

Libby Baker-Mikesell at the Nittany Lion Shrine.
@TeachAgPSU would like to give a warm welcome to Libby Baker-Mikesell (@baker_mi16) as she joinst the #TeachAg family! After completing her term of service as the Pennsylvania FFA State President, she's ready to take on the next commitment as a Freshman in the Agricultural Extension & Education major, and a member of the #psuaged20 cohort.

Since serving as a state FFA officer in the 2016-17 year, Libby has gained a deeper appreciation for those in the agriculture industry that work to provide us the food we eat every day. We asked Libby what skills she's gained as a state officer that will help her as a future educator, and she said, "...some of the best lessons were learned in the classroom. One of my favorite things I got to do this year was facilitating workshops for high school students. Planning and conducting leadership and agriculture based workshops and investing time into planning effective lessons will help in my future career. Teaching classes with limited resources has taught me to be flexible in lesson planning, timing, and in modifying lessons for students." 

Welcome to the @PSUTeachAg family!
Libby is more than familiar with the agriculture industry, growing up on her family's beef farm and spending a lot of time in her mother's Ag Ed classroom at Greenwood High School in Juniata County. Libby attended Greenwood High School and went through the agricultural education program led by Ms. Krista Pontius (@KristaPontius) and Mr. Michael Clark. It was here that she says her passion for agriculture was realized and her FFA journey began. She was active in the Parliamentary Procedure CDE and Agriscience Fair. She also maintained Agriscience Research, Beef Entrepreneurship, and On-farm Placement SAE projects as well.

She said her decision to teach Ag was made after, "Seeing firsthand the impact that my mother made on her students and in turn, my Ag teachers on myself and my classmates..."  She's excited to be able to combine her love of teaching with her passion for agriculture into a degree in Agricultural Education. Libby sees the agricultural education classroom as a place to make connections and forge relationships with students as they grow over their high school careers. Given the importance of agriculture in our history, as well as its importance in feeding a growing world, Libby says that Agricultural Education is our chance to show students that everyone has their own role in the industry, and Ag Ed programs teach our students how they can "be a key player in creating a world that is no longer food-insecure."

Finally, we asked Libby if she has any advice for those that are thinking about a career in Agricultural Education. She sees agricultural education as a unique opportunity for all; "You can walk into an Ag classroom and see the special education student sitting beside the straight-A student and the star of the football team. There is a place for everyone within the Ag classroom, and it is a privilege to teach all students about the importance of America’s number one industry." 

We wish Libby the best of luck as she begins a new journey down the exciting path of becoming an Agricultural Educator. Surely her passion for agriculture and valuable experiences as a State FFA Officer will help to positively shape her experiences in the AEE program. Welcome to the @TeachAgPSU family!

Hunter Kauffman, Student Blogger
Wildlife and Fisheries Science
The Pennsylvania State University
Instagram: kauffman_hunter

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Congratulations Nathan Repetz (@N8_Repetz); #psuaged17 member Hired!

A big congratulations to Mr. Nathan Repetz, #psuaged17 member and 2017 graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, who was just hired onto the educational team at Benton Area Middle-Senior High School in Benton, PA.

In Nathan's time at Penn State, he was heavily involved throughout the University, being a member of Teach Ag! Society (taking part in their yearly Domestic Study Away), the Teach Ag! Avengers, a brother of Alpha Zeta, and even on the Penn State Altoona Cross Country team.

When asked what the most interesting thing about his student teaching experience was, Repetz said, "I enjoyed challenging my own content knowledge in welding and plant science with eager students, top notch facilities, and veteran teachers. I also enjoyed getting to know the surrounding community through the program. It was those connections that brought me this opportunity." Nathan's case is a prime example of the value in the connections  made through the student teacher preparation program; Central Columbia High School is only about 20 miles away from his new home in the Benton School District.

Mr. Repetz teaching during one of his shop classes at Central Columbia. 
Mr. Repetz gets a very unique opportunity, joining alongside #psuaged11 member and fellow Penn State graduate Ms. Amanda Hack as he shapes a new Ag Mechanization program for the school. After Benton's previous tech-ed teacher left the school district, the school's shop facility and it's corresponding classroom have been sitting empty for the past year.

It's exciting to see new life brought to that learning space as Nathan fills the tech-ed role and gets to create his own unique blend of traditional shop classes and agricultural classes to meet the needs and interests of his students and the community. Mr. Repetz will be teaching a variety of subjects, including Power Machinery, Building Trades, Woodworking, Advanced Woodworking, Intro to Ag Mechanics, and 8th Grade Ag and Forestry.

When asked what advice he has for students looking to enter Ag Ed, Mr. Repetz replied that, "It really is a lifestyle choice, not a job. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you are at all interested in teaching Ag, there are great resources to explore the opportunities. You may find that this is for you, or you may find that it is not. That’s OK! If you don’t check it out you already made that choice, so don’t limit yourself!"

We asked Nathan about his new job, and the life ahead of him, and he said, "I'm right where I need to be." We're excited to see Mr. Repetz step into this new position, and are wishing him the best of luck as he moves forward in his career!

Hunter Kauffman, Student Blogger
Wildlife and Fisheries Science
The Pennsylvania State University
Instagram: kauffman_hunter

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Congratulations Matthew Rider (@mvr5027); #psuaged17 member Hired!

Matthew Rider and the Penn State Nittany Lion Shrine.
Matthew Rider has been hired by Stuart's Draft High School in Augusta County, Virginia. The recent graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, and #psuaged17 member, now has an opportunity to put his skills to the test and grow professionally and personally as the newest member of the agricultural education team at the school.

During his time at Penn State, Matthew took advantage of numerous opportunities, being part of the Penn State Soil Judging team and a brother of Penn State's chapter of Alpha Tau Alpha , the National Professional Honorary Fraternity for Agricultural Education. 

His initial teaching experience took place at Tyrone Area High School, where he taught for the Spring semester of 2016 under the advice of experienced teacher Ms. Tiffany Hoy (@hoytffany). Just one of the many interesting topics that Mr. Rider said he was able to teach at Tyrone was " to introduce yourself in a professional setting"

Mr. Rider with one of his students.
In his new position at Stuart's Draft High School, he will be working alongside his cooperating teacher, Mr. Berry Gray. Although Matthew is stepping into an agricultural education program that's over 40 years old, and making quite a far move from his home in State College, he is more than optimistic about his new job, stating the famous quote from movie 'Forrest Gump', "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.

Stuart's Draft owns a small animal facility as well as a student garden that Mr. Rider will surely make use of. Some of the primary classes Mr. Rider will be teaching are Small and Large Animal Science, Greenhouse Production, and Floriculture. A piece of advice he leaves with students looking into agricultural education is that it's serious business, but you can't be too serious. 

We wish the best of luck to Matthew Rider as he steps into his new career, and look forward to seeing the impact he makes in the lives of his students!

Hunter Kauffman, Student Blogger
Wildlife and Fisheries Science
The Pennsylvania State University
Instagram: kauffman_hunter

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Fives Years of #TeachAg Excellence

Throwback Thursday

Five Years of #TeachAg Excellence

To celebrate this weeks #TBT we are going back to look at the #TeachAg Excellence from the last Five Years of Student Teaching Candidates.  

#PSUAgEd17 :


Some fun facts:
  • Taught 46 unique classes during the 2017 Spring Semester totally 106 units of instruction
  • Has earned a total of 8 unique majors and minors
To learn more check out their own highlights blog:

#PSUAgEd16 : 


Some fun facts:
  • Taught 71 unique classes during the 2017 Spring Semester totally 159 units of instruction
  • Has earned a total of 11 unique majors and minors
To learn more check out their own highlights blog:

#PSUAgEd15 : 


Some fun facts:
  • Taught 102 unique classes during the 2017 Spring Semester totally 202 units of instruction
  • Has earned a total of 16 unique majors and minors
To learn more check out their own highlights blog:

#PSUAgEd14 : 


Some fun facts:
  • Taught 104 unique classes during the 2017 Spring Semester totally 222 units of instruction
  • Has earned a total of 17 unique majors and minors
To learn more check out their own highlights blog:

#PSUAgEd13 : 


Some fun facts:
  • Taught 74 unique classes during the 2017 Spring Semester totally 159 units of instruction
  • Has earned a total of 13 unique majors and minors
To learn more check out their own highlights blog:

George Dietrich, Student Blogger
Twitter Handle: @TheGeorge4H
#PSUAgEd18 Member
Cumberland Valley Student Teaching Canidate

National Teach Ag Day Celebration

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Make plans to celebrate National Teach Ag Day on September 21st! 

Submit a Photo!
Being an agriculture teacher is an awesome career choice. We want to recognize all the current and future agriculture teachers who have answered the call to Change Lives and Teach Ag! Submit a photo and information to by 11:59pm EDT on Monday, September 11. 
Approved photos will be displayed during the live Teach Ag Day webcast on Thursday, September 21st between 1-3pm EDT.  You can watch the live webcast by going to the Teach Ag website on September 21st.
Click here for more details
& to submit your photo!

Share on Social Media!!

You have the BEST. JOB. EVER! Make sure everyone knows about it!!!
Share what you are doing to celebrate!!! Share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
You might even be featured during our live webcast.

Showcase YOUR Adventure of a Lifetime!
Either individually, as a program, as a small group, or collegiate institution create a 15-30 second video using the theme Teach Ag…An Adventure of a Lifetime!
  • Make sure your video is fun, in good taste and highlights why being an agriculture teacher is an adventure of a lifetime.
  • Approved videos will air during the live Teach Ag Day webcast on Thursday, September 21st.
  • The video with the most views in each category between September 17th and September 21st will win!
Click here for more information & to get started on your video!

Make the News!
Help promote ag education through numerous resources available on the Teach Ag website!
Here are just a few to start your promotion:
Click here for more great resources & start promoting the BEST. JOB. EVER!!!

InviteYour Friends & Watch Live!
National Teach Ag Day is a great opportunity to share with others your LOVE for ag education and PASSION for teaching! Here are some ideas for hosting your own party:
  • Gather your friends, colleagues, peers, advisors, & anyone else you can think of to share in the National Teach Ag Day celebration!
  • Nominate someone you think will be a great ag teacher!
  • Order in lunch & watch the National Teach Ag Day live webcast!
  • Purchase a Teach Ag kit for yourself or someone you know who will be a great ag teacher!!

Contact Us
Ellen Thompson
Project Director
Andrea Fristoe
Program and Communications Assistant
Victoria Hamilton
Marketing Assistant
Elisa Russ
Teach Ag Intern

The National Teach Ag Campaign is a project of the National Council for Agricultural Education, led by the National Association of Agricultural Educators. For more information, visit the Teach Ag website.Funding for the National Teach Ag Campaign is provided by the CHS Foundation, DuPont Pioneer, Growth Energy, and BASF as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

Friday, August 11, 2017

@TeachAgPSU welcomes Jill Palmer to the #TeachAg Family

2016-2017 Pennsylvania State FFA
Reporter, Jill Palmer
Jill Palmer has just recently finished her year of service as the Pennsylvania State FFA Reporter.  In June, she was able to pass her torch onto the newly elected reporter and is now looking towards her future of becoming a Penn State Student.  Jill will be an incoming freshman to Penn State Mont Alto this fall, majoring in Agriculture and Extension Education! 

Jill didn't grow up on a farm but knew from a very young age that she loved being outside and was completely obsessed with driving around and looking at the beautiful farms in her community, thinking to herself “Wow, I wish I can do that someday!”  That day came sooner than she thought, as she entered into high school and was able to hear about her FFA chapter at Southern Fulton Jr/Sr High School.  She was instantly curious and excited to have the opportunity to “be a farmer”.  Little did she know that being a part of the Warfordsburg FFA chapter would be so much more that being a farmer and farming was so much more than just driving a tractor!  She quickly learned that the organization was focused on building lifelong skills that would help guild her on her path to a future dream career. She knew from that point on that Ag Ed was always going to be a part of her life.  “I really found a sense of belonging in a world I was so unfamiliar with, and really understood what it meant to be a leader.”

She began pushing herself to try new things and to become as involved as she could.  From participating in Career development events like dairy judging and competing in her favorite contest
Jill still has a love and
passion for the dairy
industry and cows! 
which was public speaking.  She loved “being able to have the power to talk in a room of 10,000 people and still make a connection with someone!”  Knowing Jill now, you never would guess that she used to be shy.  In school, her favorite Ag classes were Small and Large Animal Science.  She loved them so much that she took them two years in a row, just because she wanted to learn more and improve her grade from before.  She had a few different Supervised Agricultural Experiences over the years but her all-time favorite was her Dairy Exploratory project.  She never grew up on a farm but her Ag teacher married a dairy farmer which opened the door for Jill to explore the dairy industry.  She was able to pick out calves, heifers and cows to halter break, clip and show at the local fair.  She instantly fell in love with dairy and has been able to continue this project every year and still does.  “I couldn’t have picked a more fun activity to teach someone how to work hard and be patient!”      

I asked Jill, What made you want to teach agriculture?  I wasn’t surprised to learn that this has been
Jill Palmer with her Ag Teacher
Rebecca Mosemann
her dream for a long time; ever since the 10th grade!  This was a hard year for Jill but no matter what she was going through, FFA was there to make life so much more worth it.  Her advisor, Rebecca Mosemann, also had a huge impact on Jill and helped to encourage her to not give up. “From that moment on I knew that I never want to leave FFA and I want to be able to serve others like my advisor served me when I was struggling. Relationships with others are everything to me, and the best relationships I have made have been inside this blue and gold jacket, and I couldn’t have done it without the love and patience of a willing ag teacher.”  Of course serving the past year as a State Officer has only boost her passion and desire to teach.  She was able to learn how to facilitate a classroom and how to convey a message to students.  Most importantly, she says that her past year has helped her to learn how to make solid connections with other and be a better role model.  “When you build up that relationship with others and sharpen the ability to connect with them, as soon as you teach them something they’re going to respect you and listen to the things you’re saying.” 

Jill explained that to her, Agriculture education is important not just because we teach students how to clothe and feed the world, but we also teach them how to be respectful, hard working leaders while doing a lot of the dirty work that no one else in society would make the sacrifice to do. These students are some of the most intelligent, and willing students I’ve seen come out of these high schools. They graduate with a plan, whether it’s working or going to college, and they’re ready to take on life because they’ve been taught how to work hard and efficiently.  That’s why when I asked her what advice she would give someone thinking about Agriculture Education, she simply said “It is so incredibly worth it!  Ag teachers make a lot of sacrifices. They take family time and spend it driving their students to conferences, and they stay after school to help us study for those competitions, but they build relationships with their students.  Being an agricultural educator is a lot of work, but to know that you’re doing work for students’ that has the potential to change their lives, makes it so worth it!”
The retiring 2016-2017 Pa State FFA
Officer Team! 

We want to welcome Jill Palmer to the PSU Ag Ed family and hope that her passion and experiences help to guide her in this upcoming journey!

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

Guest Blog @allyson_balmer: CASE Institute 2017 - Welcome to Professional Development

My name is Allyson Balmer and I am a rising senior at Penn State University majoring in Agricultural and Extension Education. I am a member of the 2018 cohort and will be student teaching this spring with Gretchen Dingman at Tri-Valley High School.

A few weeks ago I had the incredible opportunity to attend a CASE (Curriculum in Agricultural Science Education) Institute and get certified in the Natural Resources and Ecology curriculum in Pontiac, Illinois.

The institute lasted 10 days, where the class of agriculture teachers, from various states, went through the entire course in that amount of time. As I went through the course, I played the role of a student and filled out the entire student binder and all the worksheets. My lead teachers would check certain lessons that had to be done proficiently and at the end of the 10 days, I was certified. This certification will always stay with me, as I now have the entire teacher and student curriculum.

Here are a few things I learned while at my CASE Institute:

1. Agriculture Teachers ARE Science Teachers.

In every agriculture class there is some aspect of biology, chemistry, etc. that is reiterated and brought to life at a hands-on level. Thus, we, as agriculture educators, need to take that seriously so that we can continue to be respected among academia.

For example, if there is a lab activity for students to conduct, we need to make the experience as "real-life" as possible. This means using glass beakers, flasks, graduated cylinders, pipette droppers, microscopes, and other scientific lab equipment whenever possible. Enough with using Dixie cups. Let's show the other academic areas that we too can put science literacy and skills into our agriculture curriculum.

By doing this, students feel more valued, that their work is important, and that their development in all STEAM (science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics) fields is a priority to agriculture education.

2. Inquiry-Based Instruction/Self-Directed Learning

Throughout my collegiate career, the topics of self-directed learning, growth mindset, and inquiry-based instruction have been the focus of a variety of classes. There is a central theme, a shift to student-centered learning where the teacher is a guide/mentor/facilitator. Students are encouraged and challenged to ask why, think at a deeper level, and become less dependent on the teacher.

In CASE, this is a highly important component to both understand and practice in the classroom. This curriculum is designed for student discovery by following the step-by-step procedures provided in their student binders. This means less spoon-feeding, developing students who can problem-solve on their feet, and creating hands-on and real-world application even in a classroom setting.

This experience was an opportunity of a lifetime for a pre-service agriculture teacher as I made new connections, gathered ideas from other agriculture teachers nationwide, and now have an incredible curriculum to use while student teaching and beyond.

Allyson Balmer
Penn State University
Agricultural and Extension Education
2018 Student-Teaching Cohort at Tri-Valley High School
Twitter: @allyson_balmer