Tuesday, August 13, 2013

2013 Teach Ag! Society Essay Event Results

Austin Young
 and 2013 student teacher Mackenzie McCollum
The Teach Ag! Society essay contest has been a part of the Pennsylvania State FFA Convention for the past four years. Students entering the contest must plan, design, and teach a lesson about agriculture to an agricultural class of their choice. Their teacher helps them with their lesson plan and guides them along the process of being a teacher for a class. The student then has to write an essay about their experiences during the process. To enter the contest the student submits their essay, lesson plan and pictures, which are graded by a group of selected individuals at Penn State. The top four contestants are announced before the State Convention registration then the final placing is announced at the Pennsylvania State Convention in June.

Facilitators at the Wii Night after the announcement of the winners
This past June, the contest saw a record number of participants with 45 applications sent in. Meagan Slates, Presidents of the Teach Ag! Society, was in charge of the essay contest this year. She comments that “A lot of the feedback that was given in the essays was that the students really looked up to their teachers and wanted to give it a try. I was surprised at the repeat number of participants from last year. With the help of their teachers most of the students really enjoyed teaching a class. All the students essays were great and choosing a winner was really difficult!” Meagan is a senior in Agriculture Education and as she enjoys advocating for agricultural education, she thinks that getting students excited about teaching is really important.

Some of the students entered the essay contest because they wanted the experience teaching or they wanted to see what it felt like to be in their teachers shoes. Regardless of the reason the students entered the contest, they definitely learned a lot about the teaching process.

Austin Young teaching the class
Austin Young, from Central Columbia High School is the first place winner this year. This is an excerpt from his winning essay:

“Agricultural education is vital to our nation’s youth because it teaches students 21st century thinking skills which will aid them in being more employable in today’s increasingly competitive career market. In order for one to realize how agriculture affects every facet of society, agricultural literacy at an early age is essential. That is why society needs innovative, agricultural educators within our school systems.” 

Austin said that entering the contest gave him an opportunity to explore the career and was supported by his teachers Mr. Doug Brown, Mr. Curtis Turner, and his student teacher at the time Ms Mackenzie McCollum. Winning, he said has “reassured me that the career of being an Ag educator is one of the most important jobs in a society that would not be able to make it through one day without agriculture.” He also pointed out again that there is a shortage of agricultural educators nationwide and the need for Ag educators is more important now than ever. “ That is why this contest is so important. It gives students the opportunity to see what it is like to be an agricultural educator, which will hopefully propel them into a career of teaching America’s youth about agriculture.”

Katie McLaughlin and Victoria Herr in their
Teach Ag! shirts from the essay contest.
Victoria Herr, a senior at Penn Mannor High School, entered the contest because she wants to be an agricultural teacher some day. She thought that by entering the contest she would get a good feel for what being a teacher requires from an individual. “This contest taught me a lot about the skills needed to be a teacher such as writing good lesson plans, keeping the students engaged, and being prepared to answer any questions they may have. It also taught me that not all students are on the same learning level and as an ag teacher you must ensure that everyone is following along at a good pace for themselves”. 

Another student, Katie McLaughlin from Juniata High School entered the contest because at one point she had wanted to be an agricultural teach but her plans have changed. Although Katie will not be a teacher she will “always be teaching in the form of avocation.” Katie also said that the contest taught her a lot about what agricultural teachers do. Her teacher at Juniata is a part of a one teacher program with 110 kids to keep track of. She also has 11 different classes to teach in an 8 period day, all with different lesson plans. “I believe all teachers face challenges and we as students need to realize that our teachers truly want what is best for us. The essay made me realize how much Mrs. Morgan cares and it taught me to say thank you for everything she has done for our program.”

The top four winners of this years event were:
1st Place Austin Young, Central Columbia HS,
2nd place Amber Gabel, Newport High School,
3rd Place Lisa Boltz, Northern Lebanon High School, and
4th Place Victoria Daltroff, North West Area High School.

Meagan Slates wishes to continue increasing the contests and hopes to break the 45 entry record next year. Please keep an eye out to be ready to participate and apply next year! The Nation Needs You!

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 teachag@psu.edu. 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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