Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Appreciating the TERRIFIC THIRTEEN from 2013!

We are very proud of the 2013 student teaching cohort. Here is a glimpse at their achievement:

2013 PSU Ag. Student Teachers
Taught 74 different classes to students from 8th to 12th grades that are 42 minute periods to 90 minute “block” periods in length.

Delivered 159 units of instruction on topics from leadership development, agricultural mechanics, environmental sciences, plant sciences, animal sciences and much more!

Impacted the lives of  1176 individual students

Earned (or will earn) a Bachelors of Science in 5 areas: Agricultural & Extension Education, Animal Science, Biology; Dairy Science; and Food Science

Obtained 8 Minors/areas of emphasis:  Agronomy; Animal Science; Agribusiness Management; Environmental Science; Horticulture; International Agriculture; Leadership Development; Plant Science

Studied abroad in 8 countries, including: Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland; South Korea, Spain

Will have members who are Pennsylvania Certified (with reciprocity in more than 40 states ) in the following 5 areas: Agriscience K-12; Biology; Chemistry; Environmental Science; General Science

Earned 21 different Additional Certifications/Accreditations/Licensures, including(listed alphabetically):
o   Accredited Parliamentarians from the Society of Agricultural Education Parliamentarians; First Aid/CPR/AED Certification; Beef Quality Assurance Certified Producer; Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Technician; Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources (AFNR) Instructor (June 2013); Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) Principles of Animal Science (ASA) Instructor (Summer 2013);   Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) Natural Resources (NR) Instructor (Summer 2013);   Keystone Aquatics Resource (Project Aquatics);Food Science ServSafe Certification;  Genex Certified Artificial Insemination Technician; National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Instructors ; Occupational, Safety and Health Administration Certificate; Pennsylvania Song Birds curriculum; Pennsylvania Wildlife Forensics curriculum; Pennsylvania Amphibians and Reptiles curriculum; Professional Animal Scientist;  Project Food, Land & People curriculum; Project Learning Tree; Project WILD curriculum; School Bus Commercial Driver’s License; School Bus Drive Certified Trainer

Involved in 18  professional organizations, including(listed alphabetically):
o   Alpha Tau Alpha, National Agricultural Education Honorary; American Dairy Science Association – Student Affiliate Division (ADSA-SAD); American Society of Animal Scientists (ASAS); American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS),  Association of Career & Technical Education;  Campus Girl Scouts,  Penn State Collegiate FFA, Penn State; Block & Bridle; Central Susquehanna Pupil Transportation Association; Delta Tau Alpha Agricultural Honorary Society; Food Science Club, Penn State;  Gamma Sigma Delta (GSD); Graduate Student Association, Ag & Ext Education, Penn State; National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE);  Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators (PAEE) ; Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators (PAAE); Pennsylvania School Bus Association; Pennsylvania Young Farmers Association (PYFA), Sigma Alpha Professional  Agricultural Society

Gained experience or have been employed with  27 different relevant jobs/Internships including (listed alphabetically):
o   Berks County 4-H Summer Intern; Center for Dairy Excellence Intern; Columbia County Extension Office;  Gensemer Meat Company; GROWMARK Field Service Intern; Huntingdon County 4H Summer Assistant; Iowa State University Academic Tutor;  Kansas State University 4-H State Office Intern; Penn State 4-H Youth and Families with Promise; Penn State Agricultural and Extension Education Undergraduate Research Assistant;  Penn State Agricultural & Extension Education Center for Professional Personnel Development Student Worker; Penn State Deer Facilities; Penn State Equine Facilities; Penn State Harrisburg College Preparation Representative; Penn State Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Intern; Pioneer Hi-Bred Corn Research Intern; Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania Internship Program; Renee Hodgson Landscape Company ; R.G. Morgan Construction and Concrete; Romberger Farm Supply; School Transportation Safety Coordinator; Shaver’s Creek Outdoor School Intern; Shilling’s Dairy Farm; Southern States – Grantsville Ag Service; University of Wyoming Meat Lab; Ventura Foods, LLC, Quality Control Tech; Yule's Greenhouse

To learn more about their specific student teaching experiences (Twitter Handle):


PJ Adam (@mifflinburgST13) - Mifflinburg Magic -
Current Position: Rohrer Bus Service, Pennsylvania

Jamie Aukamp (@jla322) - Aukamps Analysis -
Current Position: Agriscience Teacher, Anson HS, North Carolina

Kristy Brubaker (@kristylane)- Brubaker's Big Picture Review-
Current Position: Agriscience Teacher, Tunkhannock , Pennsylvania

Kaydee Gearhart (@klg5271)- Greenwood's Greatness -
Current Position: Agriscience Teacher, Mifflin/Juniata CTC, Pennsylvania

Britney Marsh (@b_marsh216)- Greenwood Rocks! -
Current Position: Agriscience Teacher, Arizona Agribusiness & Equine Center, Mesa, Arizona

Mackenzie McCollum (@McCollumMac)- IMPACT -
Current Position: Danville MS Agriscience Teacher, Pennsylvania

Adam Peachey (@peachey_adam)- No Blog Submitted -
Current Position: Construction

Heather Pray (@hpray18)- Pray's Ponderings on Cedar Crest Fun! -
Current Position: Gardon Spot HS Agriscience Teacher, Pennsylvania

Darla Romberger (@DJR_131)- Milton Hershey Moments -
Current Position: Cumberland Valley HS Agriscience Teacher

Ashley Tressler (@aet5099)- Tales from Tressler  -
Current Position: Graduate Assistantship, Penn State Harrisburg

Josh Walker (@jmw5508)- Walker's Wisdom -
Current Position: Long Term Sub - Solanco Agriscience

Alyshia West (@a_west362)- The Great Northern Lebanon Experience -
Current Position: Food Science Industry, Central Texas

Cortney Wright (@WrightCortneyC) - The Wright Stuff -
Current Position: Agriscience Teacher, East Juniata HS, Pennsylvania

IMPACT by Mackenzie McCollum

I spent my last day eating entirely too many donuts, cupcakes, and confetti cake and going through massive amounts of tissues because I was emotionally out of control. I could NOT imagine student teaching anywhere other than Central Columbia High School. My cooperating teachers have impacted me more in the last four months than I thought was humanly possible. 

As teacher, you spend a lot of your time thinking about how to positively impact the lives of the students that you see every day. You hope that you make a difference. You hope that you impact all of your students, but at the end of the day, you know that it has been a success if you have reached just one student and changed just one life.  It was not until yesterday, that I realized what a profound impact my students had on me. That one life that was changed indefinitely was mine.

Teaching agricultural education at the secondary level with Doug Brown, Curtis Turner, and Jen Fisher has solidified my desire to go into the agricultural education profession.  But it has been the students that made me realize how much I am going to love this career. Those students ignited a fire in me to go out and do everything that I can to spread agricultural literacy and make the kind of impact on my future students that my students from Central Columbia have made on me.   Just like I told one boy, the only two things that you have control over in life is your effort and attitude and that is enough to make you successful at whatever you choose to do.

Last night, I wrote every student that I taught a thank-you note, but no amount of gratitude for the experiences that I have shared at Central Columbia is enough. If you want the chance to make a difference in the lives of your community’s youth & ultimately change your own life, consider a career in agricultural education.

Submitted by:
Mackenzie McCollum
2013 Student Teacher
Central Columbia

Greenwood Greatness by Kaydee Gearhart!

Going into this student teaching experience, I thought that I would have an impact on the lives of the students, but didn’t really think about how it would happen or the obstacles that I would have to overcome. Now, as I reflect back on my experience at Greenwood, I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to student teach with Mr. Clark, who is an experienced teacher who was able to give me feedback.  The students at Greenwood are amazing.

I absolutely loved my student teaching experience at Greenwood! I love teaching agriculture! I have a passion for agriculture and working with students. I enjoyed my student teaching experience and I know that teaching agriculture is what I want to do for a career as the rest of my life. I have so much fun working with the students and even learning with them! I looked forward to each day of my student teaching experience. It was so rewarding to see where the students started and to see the amount of information that they learned. And seeing the “ahh-ha” moments when the light bulb came on for the students after working with them made it worth the frustrations that come along before the students “get it”. I love helping the students reach their full potential. I know that this is what I am supposed to do! The days went by so quickly, it was like I wasn’t even “working” because I enjoyed the entire experience at Greenwood! I got to know the students and build a rapport with them. I was also able to gain their respect and have fun while teaching and watching them learn. 

When I first started, it was all I could do to remember the names of the students that first week.  Now, I not only know their names, but I know their personalities, their interests, and how to motivate them!  Each student is unique and in order for me to be successful, I had to take the time to get to know each student.  This started with a simple “Hello, how are you today” in the beginning.  At the end of my student teaching experience, I have full conversations with students.  Some students come looking for advice, whether it is a question about a math homework problem, college, or they want to know if I like the picture of their prom dress.  Other students come to tell you all about their plans for the next Career Development Event that they want to participate in.  This did not just happen overnight.  I had to gain the trust and respect of the students before they trusted and respected me.  Building a rapport or professional relationship with the students is crucial!  I would say it’s one of the most important aspects of being an agricultural teacher!  You have to get to know them and their interests! In order for this to happen, you have to make an effort.  Talk to your students before and after class, take an interest in them and what they like (other than the class you are teaching) and just genuinely care about them.  This task is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. 

The first obstacle that I had to overcome was in my Small Gas Engines class where I taught a class of 17 senior boys.  Talk about a tough crowd… These boys didn’t want to be taught by a girl!  Because everyone knows that girls don’t know anything about small engines…. WRONG!  It took a few weeks to prove to them that I knew what I was talking about.  Once they realized that I actually do know what I am talking about, they began to gain respect for me.  This was a slow and gradual process.  Students accepted me on their own time, not mine.  I gained some student advocates who realized that I knew what I was talking about and they helped get other students back on task when they didn’t want to listen to me.  Slowly but surely, I made progress with each student.  Even up until the last week of student teaching I was making progress and breakthroughs with students. 

National FFA Week played a role in my ability to connect with students on a more personal level and build rapport with them because of the activities and events that were planned.  This made it possible to spend more time with them and talk to the students individually.  I learned about their interests and even goals in life!  Who knew that FFA Week would make a student open up about their life?! I also found that it was very beneficial to attend the basketball games. I had many of the starting players in my classes, and attending their basketball games made a huge difference in the classroom.

Another way that helped me make a connection with the students was talking with them and getting to know them during my planning period when they have study hall. These students are in the ag room and Mr. Clark originally “voluntold” them to help me do various things. By the end of my student teaching experience, they asked what they could do to help me out and I built an awesome professional relationship with these students. They were my main classroom advocates when their peers would not listen. There were a few students in particular that encouraged me along the way, and they probably didn't even know it. They would make comments like, "You are going to be a great ag teacher", "I really like when you teach our class because I learn a lot", "We want you to teach us about ____ (insert various topics!)", "You are very professional and are a good student teacher". These little comments made me feel good and made me feel like I was doing it right! I was surprised at the respect that I gained from the students, especially some of the senior boys... who know everything (or think they do)!!! Every morning I generally see the same group of students before school start because the same students make their way to the ag room. I always say "GOOD MORNING ______(insert name of student) when I see them. One day, I didn't say good morning to a particular student because I had other things going on. This student said good morning to me first. Later, this student came up to me and asked if everything was okay because I didn't say "Good Morning" in my bubbly, excited voice like I do every morning. I was told that this student knew something was wrong/on my mind because this student had to say "Good Morning" to me first. I didn't realize the impact that I was making, just by saying Good Morning to the students; but they came to expect it, whether they realized it or not. Until this day, I did not realize how many little things can impact a student's life.

I know that I made an impact in the lives of these students, AND they made an impact on me! I loved every minute of being at Greenwood! This was a great experience and I was blessed to have such an awesome group of students to work with!  I could not have asked for a better experience!  When I finished a day, I felt a personal satisfaction because I was able to impact the lives of students.  And it never felt like “work” because I loved what I was doing!  You can’t get any more rewarding than that!

Submitted by:
Kaydee Gearhart
2013 Student Teacher
Greenwood High School

Walker's Wisdom - Thoughts by 2013 Student Teacher Josh Walker

Why I Love Agriculture Education!

 1) Not the Standard Workday! Why would you want to do the same thing each and every day? Thank God with agriculture education I don't have too! Agriculture education has the opportunity to work with a variety of different subjects dealing with everything from welding in the shop, chicks in the classroom, and landscaping on the school grounds. We have so many different opportunities and the fun doesn't end there! The National FFA Organization and the Supervised Agricultural Experience program give students so many opportunities to try things outside the classroom. You are always learning something new with Agriculture Education.

2) Not every student is the same. Working in agriculture education gives students the opportunity to select the areas they are truly interested in. One of the things that I have truly grown to love and see with the courses in agriculture education is that students have the option of taking a class whether its plants/animals/shop and if they decided they don't like it, they don't have to give up with agriculture! All I need to say is "hey!, you seem like you have a lot of interest in this area. Why don't you try out (insert class here) next year?
Outstanding Mohawk Agriscience Students!

3) It doesn't matter what previous experiences you've had, I can challenge anyone. Experience is a plus but definitely not a requirement. Students come in with various degrees of knowledge on the material. Maybe they have had previous experience or it may be their first time with the concept. I have the ability to challenge students who are excelling through independent study while working with the rest of the kids in the class. Students who excel can also be devoted as group leaders for the class and may aid other students with the subject.

4) What other classes gives students' real world experiences that make them employable right out of school? Many academic classes require students to continue their training and prepare students for a four year degree. Guess what? College is NOT for everyone. There are so many skills trades that go unfilled on a yearly basis and the demand for these positions increases annually. We have the potential to get students exposed to these tracks, show them what these jobs entail, and then they can decide if it is an area they think they would like to pursue all without throwing tens of thousands of dollars in student loans away after realizing they do not want to work in that field.

5) Last, but certainly not least, I get to do the fun stuff and build relationships with my students. How cool is agriculture education. I know I said the learning doesn't stop in the classroom and it is so cool! Through the National FFA, students have the opportunity to travel out of their counties and across the country if they so desire. They are constantly involved in community service, chapter improvements, and local area needs all of which lead to personal growth and career success.

It just doesn't get any better than this!

Submitted by:
Josh Walker

2013 Student Teacher
Mohawk HS

The "Wright" Placement - the Case of Cortney Wright!

My student teaching experience was some what different than the student teaching
experiences of my fellow student teachers. I decided to take a non-traditional route with my student teaching and teach at a career and technology center which had its pro's and cons!

The major difference at the career and technology center was that I had three 120 minute sessions, no planning period, no school lunches, and no homerooms. Another major differences is that I had three different levels of students in the classroom such as AgriScience 1, AgriScience 2, and AgriScience 3. Teaching at a nontraditional placement such as a Career and Technology Center stretches you as a teacher candidate a great deal.  The students who attended a CTC are there for a very specific reason, so the students really want to learn most days. You also have more flexibility at times to complete certain activities.

While teaching at the Career and Technology Center, the extended instructional sessions can challenge a new teacher.  You learn very fast how to plan for much more than needed. Most of my lessons for one class out of a day is enough material to cover in three classes in normal high school.  Creating variability can be another challenge to address.  Trying to change gears or add something new every 20 minutes can be hard.  You also have to watch and be sure that you are not losing any students.  If you lose students in the beginning of the lesson, it can be hard to catch them up because they have missed so much. The other hard thing to get used to is having multiple classes or lessons going on at once.  I only had to do this once a day, but it was an extremely hard concept to become use to. You learn how to create more student-centered learning activities instead of teacher-centered learning.  This makes students more responsible for their own learning, and less dependent on you to disseminate the information to them

I choose to complete my student teaching experience at a career and technology center because it can be very nontraditional, but also because this program is one of few at CTC’s that is so broad.  The program included everything from animal science, plant science, agriculture mechanics, natural resources, and wildlife. I had the opportunity to teach in a biotechnology program, unique as there are not many of across the nation.  The biotechnology program provided me hands on experience learning in teaching STEM related curriculum. I also had the opportunity to use a lot of equipment and materials that not every program around the state has access to.  I am so happy that I had the opportunity to utilize a fully equipped biochemistry lab.

Bottom-line, I know this is definitely what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I absolute love teaching, love my students, and love the memories that are made every day in the classroom with my students. I could not have asked for a better student teaching experience.

Please watch this short video (2 minutes 13 seconds) that I created:

Submitted By:

Cortney Wright
2013 Student Teacher
Bedford CTC

"You're an Ag Ed Major? So you want to farm?" Tales from Tressler

Imagine yourself walking into Ferguson at 6:00 am with 16 other people. Breakfast food and drinks line the wall of room 214 waiting to be consumed by the sleepy, yet hungry college students. You pile your plate up with bagels, fruit, and powdered doughnuts and pour yourself a cup of hot coffee. You turn around and notice that at every desk there is a folder. You open it up and bamm…. It’s everything you need to know for your senior year as a student in the Agricultural Education and Extension major, but the one thing you want to look at the most is ‘the list’.

Ms. Tressler with Pequea Valley FFA members
As an Agricultural Education and Extension student, I was way too excited and anxious to take a look at ‘the list’. The list shows all the potential schools in Pennsylvania that would welcome student teachers for the spring of 2013. It’s the school you will be spending about 3 ½ months of your senior year teaching at. It’s a pretty big deal to say the least. Picking the school took careful consideration. It’s not something you can just close your eyes and point to a school on a piece of paper. You have to do your research. What kind of program do they have? How will I benefit in the end? What do their facilities look like? What’s their average class size? Where are they located? These were just a few of the questions that I asked myself. But then there were questions that stuck out more than others…

Should I go to a place where I'm comfortable with the subjects? That was what I originally wanted. I looked at different schools that had animal science and horticulture programs that were going to be taught during the time I would be teaching. All I knew was that I did not want to go to a place that had Ag Mechanics being taught during the time I was there. It wasn't my strong subject, and I was terrified. As much as I was hesitant to have Pequea Valley as my #1 on the top of the list, I knew that I would benefit more from being in a strong Agriculture Mechanics program than I would at a strong Animal Science program. This whole experience at Pequea Valley was me being out of my comfort zone. I looked at being at Pequea as an opportunity; an opportunity for me to be out of my comfort zone and to learn more about Ag Mechanics. Besides, that was my biggest weakness. So, I sat in front of the panel and explained my reasoning as to why Pequea Valley would’ve been the best fit for me. I want to be the best teacher I can possibly be. If my students want to learn about Ag Mechanics, then I need to have knowledge about that specific area. If I didn’t, I would be hindering my students. I wouldn’t be that well-rounded Ag teacher. It’s the end of my student teaching experience, and I still get asked the same question from time to time….

“So what are you majoring in?”

“Agricultural Education and Extension.”

“So you want to farm or something?”

2013 PSU Student Teaching Cohort
It saddens me to know that many people in our society do not know about Agriculture Education and how it molds students to be positive agents of change; how a total Ag Ed program includes Supervised Agricultural Experience, FFA, and Classroom Instruction and what that actually means; how teachers have students walk in as followers and leave as leaders.  We are teaching the future educators, doctors, lawyers, scientists of tomorrow.  While some may say, “they don’t need to learn about agriculture”, they’re wrong because we don’t just teach a subject in a classroom. Agriculture teachers are so much more. We inspire our kids to be something more. We see the potential in every student and try and bring that to the surface so students can see for themselves what they are capable of. We make a difference. These educators can make that small spark that’s deep inside a student turn into a roaring blaze. Agriculture educators aren’t just teachers; we’re advisors, role models, counselors, motivators, engagers, and when needed, a person to just say “Let’s do better next time. I know you can do this.”  

Submitted by:

Ashley Tressler
2013 Student Teacher
Pequea Valley High School

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mifflinburg Magic with PJ Adam

Agricultural Education has been part of my life for nine years. From August 29th 2004 to May 4th 2013 I have done a complete 180 in my role in the classroom. I went from being  a quiet scared freshman, to the other side of the table teaching the quiet scared freshman, and dragging them out of their shells into the exciting world of Agricultural Education.  My experiences have been vast from judging cattle at the local fair, to meeting with the President at the White House. No one has lived my experiences in Agricultural Education before, nor will anyone live them all after me. I hope and pray my students and counterparts can learn from my mistakes, and build beyond my successes.

I have enjoyed my time at Penn State overall, I do however pray it is not the best 4 years of my life because there is a lot of life to live yet. Having the chance to work with students has been wonderful, I enjoy every day of it. Every day is a new day, and every period is a new period. Students don’t see what happens in the period before them, nor after they only see their class period, their moment in time with me as the Ag Teacher. There was a time a short time ago that I would wake up and dread going to work many days of the week. Since starting teaching I have never felt that way. I have gotten up and been excited to go to work, and arrived home each evening tired, but with a feeling of success after a long day. Not every part of everyday has been fun, and a barrel of laughs, but they all have been worthwhile times in the classroom.

Reflecting on my experiences at Mifflinburg Area High School, I have learned more from my students outside the classroom than in it. Working as an FFA Advisor has helped develop my relationships with students beyond anything available in the 41 minute period  I saw them every day. I feel as though I have impacted the lives of each student in some way, and some of those impacts may have been very small, and others huge life changes but all positive impacts. 

Submitted by:
PJ Adam

2013 Student Teacher
Mifflinburg School District