Friday, June 14, 2013

Returning to School for YOUR Agricultural Education Degree

Agricultural Education - What is your passion?

In the College of Agricultural Sciences, everyone has one similar passion – Agriculture. When someone graduates with their undergraduate degree, they probably have a dream job in their head, but sometimes that does not work out. They may be unsatisfied with their job; or maybe they want better benefits and a steadier paycheck. Teaching agriculture in a high school or through extension is all about the passion, the passion of agriculture. This blog will showcase three individuals who chose to return to school for teacher certification; two teachers that have graduated from Penn State and have been teaching for various lengths, and a current student. Each of them expresses their passion of agriculture and teaching as they go throughout their careers.

Tracy Marchini & Grassland FFA Members
The first teacher is Tracy Marchini, from Garden Spot High School in South Eastern, PA. Her undergraduate degree was in Agriculture Economics and Rural Sociology and it only took her one year to decide that she wanted to come back and get her teaching degree. Before that decision was made, she was working in a factory. She decided to teach Agriculture Education after learning about the opportunities when dating an Ag Ed major. She had wanted to be a teacher, but when she was in school she was told there were too many teachers. (She did not come from a school that had an Ag Ed program so she did not know it was an option). When she found out she could combine two or her interests, teaching and agriculture, she was hooked! Tracy taught for two years in the 80’s before raising her family and now she has been teaching for eight years since she started again. Her words of the wisdom to share are “Love what you do. Teaching agriculture is a very demanding career but the benefits are wonderful. Watching student grow for 4+ years is great. I am now seeing some of my students move onto college and careers in agriculture. If you love what you do you can get up each day and give all that you can for your students”.

Mackenzie Crooks, Lebanon (IN) Agriscience Teacher
The second teacher we are profiling is Mackenzie Crooks who currently teaches in Lebanon, Indiana. She completed the Penn State agricultural education certification program in 2012. Her undergraduate degree was in Animal Science with agribusiness management and equine science minors; she graduated from her undergrad in May 2009 and returned for her teaching degree in January of 2011. Before she returned to school she was a manager at a local Tractor Supply store. She said that while managing Tractor Supply she talked with a large population of people that were agriculture illiterate. Mackenzie found it interesting to hear the customers making comments about agriculture that did not make sense. Her favorite example is when she overheard a customer say that they didn’t like hunting because animals were hurt. Instead they only bought their meat from the store, “where no animals were hurt to make the meat”. She wants to be able to teach the future generations the joys of agriculture. She loves sharing her passion of agriculture with her students now, and has been doing so for a year. Her words of the wisdom to share are “Teaching agriculture is like a roller coaster. Every day is different. You will have days that are great, and you are going to have days that make you question your decision to be a teacher. But at the end of the day, seeing the kids excited about agriculture makes it all worth it”.

Sean Scanlon, 2014 Elizabethtown Student Teacher
Our third non-traditional student to profile is Sean Scanlon, who is currently attending Penn State and will be student teaching in spring 2014. He graduated from Radford University with his M.B.A in 1994 and returned to Penn State in the spring of 2012. He spent the previous 15 years actively farming and got into substituting at high schools which made him want to come back for his teaching degree. He has been substituting for the past 7 years to add to his farm income, and he has decided to downscale his farm to enter the teaching profession because he really enjoys it, and the steady income. He decided to teach agriculture because agriculture is his passion! He studied Animal Science and Agriculture Economics as an undergrad at Virginia Tech and went into extension for two years with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension service before farming for 15 years. Agriculture education, unlike some other disciplines, is singular and unique in its ability to shape, change, and positively impact students’ lives in measurable, long lasting ways. His words of the Wisdom are “If you ever want to instruct at any level in agriculture education/extension take AEE 412 (a class offered at PSU) and the lab. It will stretch you, set you apart from everyone else, and make you an effective educator in any capacity. Keep an open mind about agriculture education (you can learn something from everyone you meet, if you take the time to listen), it’s a craft you develop; PSU is a great place to start developing your craft. Be a true lifelong learner, it’s worth the time, sacrifice, and money (investment).”

These are three people in the Agriculture Education field who all have the same passion – The passion for agriculture. Each one of them has their own individual story, unique to them as to how they became an agricultural educator.  To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a 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 at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog

Jeanne Case
Student Blogger
2014 Dover HS Student Teacher
Twitter: JRose_Case

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