Thursday, January 31, 2013

International Interest Leads to Great Experiences for Agricultural Education Student!

Allison and a toucan at
an aviary/gardens park

Allison Hoover spent her last day in Costa Rica butchering chickens.

After spending six weeks in the Spanish-speaking country, Allison was ready to return home and speak English. However, she had one last experience waiting for her: processing chickens with a group of seventh graders and seniors at a technical high school with its own farm facilities. The school’s chickens were raised, butchered, processed, and eventually sold to the school cafeteria.

“It was exciting to see their energy for being engaged,” Allison said about watching the students participate and eventually helping them in their endeavors.

The agricultural and Extension education junior was acknowledged recently with the W. LaMarr Kopp International Achievement Award, which recognizes Penn State students, faculty, and staff who exhibit outstanding leadership in international education, service, and research.  
Allison soon before beheading a chicken,
with the 7th graders who helped with the
process as part of their introductory animal
production course in the background.

Allison is interested in many different cultures and serving internationally. During the summer of 2012, she traveled to Costa Rica for six weeks. For the first four weeks, she was involved in the Spanish for the Agricultural Sciences Immersion Experience, which gave several Penn State students the chance to work with high school agriculture programs and learn about Costa Rica’s agriculture industry. Allison stayed an additional two weeks with an International Agriculture Summer Research grant to conduct research for her undergraduate thesis.

Allison noted that agriculture has lent to a growth in the Costa Rican economy. The growth is translated into the high school curriculum.

 “Agriculture is emphasized in Costa Rican programs,” she said. “A lot of students are going back to their family farms in the region we were in, known as the Central Valley. There are many coffee and sugar cane farms there, as well as dairies.

“It was encouraging to hear Costa Ricans recognize and be proud of the fact that Costa Rica is a very agriculturally-oriented country. This is reflected in the basic agriculture courses that all students had to take at the schools I visited.”

A banana train, the method of transporting banana
bunches from the plantation site to the processing
site at EARTH University. The school's focus is
sustainable tropical agriculture.
Her awareness of the importance of international agriculture grew through her attendance at the World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogue in the fall of 2011. Because of her interest in global competency, she received an award from the National FFA Organization to travel to Iowa for the event, which centered on investing in youth to alleviate global hunger. This focus helped Allison realize the need for agricultural education and motivated her to continue pursuing her interest of understanding cultures and agriculture around the world.

“I strongly believe in the concept of global competency,” Allison said. “We should all be interested in being part of a global population. There are so many cultures, languages, and systems, and we should have a genuine interest in them.

“Diversifying our world view can’t truly be done without traveling. To understand who you are, travel.”

Allison is enrolled in the production option of Agricultural and Extension Education and is minoring in International Agriculture, Spanish, and Sustainability Leadership. She plans to pursue a career that allows her to serve others through education, have a family and a small farm, and travel often. 

By: Elise Brown, 
Student Blogger

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

AEE Junior selected a Harkins Family Emerging Leader!

Caleb Wright, 2014 Student Teacher Candidate
Congratulations to the spring 2013 Harkins Family Emerging Leader!!

Recently Caleb Wright, AEE Major and 2014 Student Teacher Candidate, was selected to receive the honor of being the spring 2013 Harkins Family Emerging Leader candidate!  

Undergraduate and graduate students chosen for this opportunity will work with College of Agricultural Sciences Deans in the form of a mentorship.  On top of this they receive a $1500 scholarship!  While participating in this program Caleb will choose an academic credit-based project to undertake.  When asked how he felt about receiving this honor Caleb said, 

“I'm extremely excited! It is always an honor to be the first recipient of such an awesome award.”  

Caleb Wright is a 2009 graduate of Juniata Valley High School where he was actively involved in about every program his school had to offer. He was highly involved in the music program, National Honor Society, and of course being a member of the Blue Juniata FFA Chapter!  He grew up on his family's farm in Alexandria, PA where they raise Registered Dorset Sheep, and now club calves. His high school career led him to serve as the 2009-2010 South Central Region Vice President of the Pennsylvania FFA Association. The summer after his year of service he came to Penn State.  Caleb is a College of Agricultural Sciences Ag Advocate  and also serves as one of the inaugural members of the Penn State Teach Ag! Avenger program where he advocates on the opportunities in agricultural and extension education to all stakeholders.

Congratulations on your new adventure as you continue to do great things!  Think you can do incredible things and find great opportunities?  Well we do!!  To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter @TeachAgPSU, or on Facebook at

By: Matthew Dodson, 
Student Blogger
2013 Teach Ag Avenger
2016 Student Teacher Candidate

Monday, January 14, 2013

2012-2013 Penn State TeachAg! Avengers

Congratulations to the 2012-2013 
Penn State Teach Ag Avengers!
(From left to right): Megan Slates, Caleb Wright, Jillian Gordon, Janae Herr, Matt Reutlinger, and Matt Dodson
Avengers??  No it is not just a movie!  This team of individuals are eager to represent the Agricultural and Extension Education major at Penn State.  What is their mission you may ask?  It may not be to protect the world from a race of alien invaders.  However, some would argue that it is still imperative to our future.  


The mission of the Penn State Teach Ag Avengers is to cultivate awareness for agricultural and extension education.

Unfortunately, it appears that inn today's world the majority of people across the world have an unclear view of what agricultural and extension education really is all about.  Some individuals say, "They teach that in our schools?" or "What does that even mean?".  This must be changed if we are to educate society on the importance of agriculture in everyday life.  Who better to do it then 6 highly motivated Penn State students??  How do these Avengers hope to accomplish this mission?


Through our passion as positive agents of change, Penn State Teach Ag Avengers will empower individuals through involvement in agricultural and extension education; inspiring them to discover their career potential to influence and participate in the future of agriculture.

Talk about a vision!  If you are a current AEE major, or you are interested in finding out what your future may look like as an agricultural educator, be sure to talk to these individuals to see how you can be a part of positive change for the future.  Discover your potential!

Caleb Wright, Junior, 2014 Teacher Candidate -
Megan Slates, Junior, 2014 Teacher Candidate -
Matt Reutlinger, Sophomore, 2015 Teacher Candidate -
Jillian Gordon, Sophomore, 2015 Teacher Candidate -
Matt Dodson, Freshman, 2016 Teacher Candidate -
Janae Herr, Freshman, 2016 Teacher Candidate -

To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter @TeachAgPSU, or on Facebook at

By: Matthew Dodson, 
Student Blogger
2013 Teach Ag Avenger
2016 Student Teacher Candidate