Thursday, May 22, 2014

2nd Annual Domestic Study Away - #TeachAgDSA 14 - Day 7 (Last one!): Wrapping up!

Editor's Note: During our 8 day adventure with 14 teacher candidates and 2 chaperones, we will have two guest bloggers share their observations every day!

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things” –Henry Miller 

Colorado is a beautiful destination. With many diverse landscapes and significant landmarks, Colorado boasts many popular attractions. On day 7 of the Teach Ag! Society’s Domestic Study Away adventure, we experienced a few of those popular attractions, including the Garden of the Gods National Landmark in Colorado Springs, as well as the downtown Denver area.

Exploring the Garden of the Gods proved to be a truly remarkable adventure. The vast landscapes and the huge rock formations provided great hiking and even better views. Wildlife, including birds and deer, in their natural habitats made the trip even more enjoyable. The Garden of the Gods Visitor’s Center provided lots of information about the landscape and its history. It also featured a gift shop and a cafĂ©.

Around noon, we traveled to Denver. Dr. Foster had to depart for the American Association for Agricultural Education National Research Conference.  Upon his departure, we voyaged to downtown Denver with our other chaperone, who we fondly have referred to as Dr. Mom (Dr. Foster’s mother, Dr. Billye Foster). In downtown Denver, we explored the city and devoured some outstanding food from The Cheesecake Factory (a first-time experience for many on the trip). Most importantly, we spent a great deal of time bonding with one another. The city was eye-opening, and allowed many of us to reflect upon and appreciate where we come from and what we have at home.

Tomorrow, we will be waking up in Colorado one last time. We will make the long trek back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Upon our arrival, our small Colorado family will return home, but we will leave one another with much more than fantastic memories. Thanks again to CHS Foundation and the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences for supporting this effort.


Morgan Campbell
2015 Student Teacher, Mifflinburg, PA

Jill Gordon
2015 Student Teacher, Ridgemont, OH

Monday, May 19, 2014

2nd Annual Domestic Study Away - #TeachAgDSA14 - Day 6: The Wild Wonderful West

Editor's Note: During our 8 day adventure with 14 teacher candidates and 2 chaperones, we will have two guest bloggers share their observations every day! 
The Penn State Teach Ag! Society team woke up in beautiful Estes Park Colorado excited for an adventure. We started off the morning reflecting on the past week at the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Under the direction of Meagan Slates, 2014 PSU AEE Graduate and Laura Metrick, 2015 Student Teacher, we discussed the four schools that we visited, and compared the school facilities, scholastic goals, and FFA programs of all four of the schools. Upon reflecting on these four incredibly unique programs, we proceeded to enter the park.

Rocky Mountain National Park is hard to capture in words. The beautiful landscape is undeniably different that our much smaller “mountains” at home in State College PA. The drive up the mountain provided many beautiful spots to stop and admire nature’s splendor. We were also able to get some great pictures with the Nittany Lion. The mountains, wildlife, and trees were a truly relaxing morning after a week of traveling.

After eating a delicious lunch at a Barbeque Restaurant in Estes Park, the team continued to travel to Colorado Springs. In order to avoid some construction on other roads, we took a picturesque detour throughout more mountains. One of the Park Rangers at the Rockies had described it as “beautiful from Peak to Peak.” This windy, but beautiful road led us to an unexpected stop at the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave near Golden Colorado. This last minute stop was not only beautiful, because the gravesite is at Peaks Mountain, but also very informational. Buffalo Bill, being an important part of developing the west, is a very interesting person. From his service in the US army to his famous Wild West Show, Buffalo Bill led a dynamic life. The Museum was fun and enlightening.

We then continued the rest of the drive to Colorado Springs, and finished out our day eating at Rasta Pasta, where when the waitress says, “yeah, that is a little spicy,” what she really means is “you might want to drink milk with that because you will be sweating your pasta is THAT HOT.” Our Saturday deviated from our original itinerary quite a bit, but this only added to our adventure here in Colorado. We cannot wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

We really appreciate the CHS Foundation and Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences for their support of our learning adventure!

Written by:

Sarabeth Royer
2016 Student Teacher Candidate

Nathan Repetz
2017 Student Teacher Candidate

Sunday, May 18, 2014

2nd Annual Teach Ag! Society Domestic Study Away - #TeachAgDSA14: Day 5 - The Learning Can't Stop!

Editor's Note: During our 8 day adventure with 14 teacher candidates and 2 chaperones, we will have two guest bloggers share their observations every day!

The vast differences in agricultural education programs across the state and nation is fascinating.

Today, we visited a career and technical center run under the direction of Lauren Hort. There are ten schools in the district that can send students to the technical center. The agriculture department consists of a fully functional floral design shop and greenhouse. Students in these classes have the opportunity to engage in real life situations as the floral shop and greenhouse run as a business and sell their products to the local community. Touring the facility, we could see the hard work and dedication the students had for their classes. The greenhouse was open the public, and it was awesome to see students in action. Next, we toured the animal facility. We were greeted by a goat named Eugene who roams the facility. Everything in the facility is used as part of a class. Chickens, hogs, and cows are all part of the program found on school property. A unique aspect of this program was that a few students are on the school district payroll and in charge of different chores to manage the facility all year long.


Ms. Holt's organization shined in her classroom when she shared with us her system for notebook checks, classroom procedures and the layout of the classroom. Also impressively, one hundred percent of her students have a Supervised Agriculture Experience using the online record keeping system. It was cool to hear that all her students are getting involved in different ways.

After checking out the program, we departed to Golden, Colorado for an agriculture industry tour with  the Coors-Miller brewery for a tour. This turned out to be more of an educational experience then expected as we learned that more of the processes benefit agriculture then we were aware! The barley mash not used in the final product is sent to a farm used to feed cattle as brewers grain. It was interesting to see agriculture in yet another part of life! 

After the brewery tour, we headed to Estes Park for the night. On the way, we got a chance to view damage from the September 2013 floods. It was surprising to see the amount of damage that still exists today even after the hard work and amount of time put into recovery.

Throughout our travels today and this week, we have been able to see the diversity and importance of agriculture in many ways! We are looking forward to our last few days on our great Colorado adventure.

A huge thank you to the CHS Foundation and the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences for supporting our adventure!


Written by:

Laura Metrick
2015 Student Teacher, Conneout Area Schools

Meagan Slates
2014 PSU Graduate, New Penn Manor Agriscience Teacher

Saturday, May 17, 2014

2nd Annual Teach Ag! Society Domestic Study Away - #TeachAgDSA14 - Day 4: Thrill of Accomplishment

Editor's Note: During our 8 day adventure with 14 teacher candidates and 2 chaperones, we will have two guest bloggers share their observations every day!

Throughout the week, the group has been involved in numerous amazing tours and meetings with Ag Educators across Colorado. Today was a completely different type of experience that generated much excitement in the group! Our group of Penn State Teach Ag! students would be helping with a service learning project to build community gardens for the Monarch K-8 school. We were given directions prior to the start of the day to have background on the building and situation of the school. These community gardens were being put in because of a grant from the USDA Farm to School Program that was obtained by the teacher at Boulder Valley Tech School, Heather Riffel. We would be helping put in the gardens, and then plant different flowers and vegetables for the students to maintain throughout the summer.

When we got to the school, everyone was excited and ready to take on this task. Everyone knew what needed to be done, and the last addition to the exciting education mix was the  7th & 8th grade students from Monarch. They busted out of the door and excitedly ran to us. We broke into groups with the first task of determining garden bed placement.  There were a few students who jumped up right away and came up with an awesome idea of putting all of the gardens into an "M" shape that would represent the Monarch school. Witnessing this display of student ownership and student voice happening in real time was eye opening, because the students wanted to invest their own time and effort into this project. They wanted to own it, and that's what made it so important for them to make their own decisions. Once the idea was accepted, we laid the raised beds into the M shape which looked great.

Working through the day, we cycled in different classes and grades of students. Our Penn State Teach Ag! group worked with 4th, 7th, and 8th grade students from Monarch. All of the students were motivated to work and it was very easy to complete the gardens. Along side of us were the high school agriscience students from Boulder Valley Tec. They were the experts who knew the ins and outs of the raised beds. They also calculated and created the drip line irrigation system. It was a simple, practical, and efficient system which impressed the Penn State students the most.

We started the morning with no raised beds in the small area we had, but by the end of the day there were six raised beds planted with numerous plants and flowers, with a working irrigation system. The transformation was indescribable to someone who was not there. The whole day was a total success and so many students were impacted by taking ownership of the gardens and getting their hands dirty.

From a future educator's perspective, we couldn't believe how amazing the day turned out. We had so much fun and the benefits that service learning could provide to any class, not just an Agriculture based one. The day was the very end of the long process that the teachers had to go through to get everything in place and complete all the behind the scene work that was crucial to everything else running smoothly. Our Penn State Teach Ag! students enjoyed the day and the impact that we made on the school and community. This day was by far the best one experienced so far. Everyone left that school with a better outlook on agriculture and creating a sense of community.

We are so thankful to have the support of great partners like the CHS Foundation and the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences that helped make this co-curricular learning opportunity a reality.


Written by:
Mike Petrun
2014 Penn State Teach Ag Graduate

Tyler Cremeans
2014 Penn State Teach Ag Graduate

Friday, May 16, 2014

2nd Annual Teach Ag! Society Domestic Study Away - #TeachAgDSA14 - Day 3 - Urban Agapooloza

Editor's Note: During our 8 day adventure with 14 teacher candidates and 2 chaperones, we will have two guest bloggers share their observations every day!

Nittany riding with the Duke!
On the third day of the Great Colorado Adventure, we once again were blessed with a great fun-filled and busy day. With two very productive stops, we were able to experience more of the wonderful state of Colorado.

Today, we began at the Leanin’ TreeWestern Art Museum. Here we were able to experience Western and Native American art. We gained a new found appreciation of Western and Native American art and culture through the portraits, painting and sculptures. The paintings were breathtaking, many focusing on depth perception, Native American Life and the cowboy life. There were sculptures both inside and outside of the building with each having their own story. The sculptures portrayed much of the wildlife and native dress of the cowboys and Native Americans.  The portraits showed the faces of people in western culture. Everyone gained something from the experience in their own way.

Nittany at Boulder TEC!
From there we found ourselves at the Boulder CTC School where agriculture education teacher Heather Riffel shared with us their unique program. One of the many things to be admired about Ms. Riffel as a teacher is the incredible amount of time and individual consideration she puts invests in her students. Her program is very unique, and of course, very involved using hydroponics system, chicken hatchery and trout production to name a few things that assists in delivering her two course: Urban Agriculture and Greenhouse Management. All of the teaching strategies and learning activities focuses on teaching students in a hands-on way about a wide variety of academic skills including chemistry, agribusiness and production of animals, vegetable, bedding plants, and herbs. We paired with the students in the Urban Ag class to learn about Haiti, make salad dressing, participate in a roundtable and tour the facility, an eventful day for sure!

Boulder TEC Urban Ag Class & Teach Ag! Penn State
The evening was topped off with a great meal and sharing of Penn State Pride with the Penn State Club of Colorado. Good Things where shared and nostalgia flowed freely!

Penn State Alumni Chapter of Colorado

As we wind down each night, we like to reflect on what happened during the day and what great experiences we’ve had. Everyone is thankful for the experiences we were given and blessed to make it through another day. We look forward for the adventures to come tomorrow.

Remember, you can follow our trip hashtag for more great pictures and observations at #TeachAgDSA14.

A big thank you to the CHS Foundation and Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences for having the vision to help make this transformative learning experience possible. 

Hannah Harris
2015 Student Teacher, Juniata Valley

Rea Ianson
2015 Student Teacher, Bermudian Springs

Thursday, May 15, 2014

2nd Annual Domestic Study Away - #TeachAgDSA14 - Day 2 - Winning with Cam the Ram!

Editor's Note: During our 8 day adventure with 14 teacher candidates and 2 chaperones, we will have two guest bloggers share their observations every day!

Cam the Ram & Nittany!
After an evening of enjoyable food, good Ag Ed company and inspiring big dreams for the future, the group was ready to start another day full of adventures. Our morning began at Colorado State University, as we met with faculty and staff of the Agriculture Education program there, they shared with us the various options within the teacher preparation program and the areas in which the education team predicts growth and faces challenges in the program. 

After a brief orientation, an Agriculture Education student and Colorado State University Agriculture Ambassador, Emily, gave us a tour of the beautiful campus. The campus holds a lot of unique stories and history from the layout of the sidewalks to the direction “Cam the Ram” is facing. (Cam faces his head towards University of Wyoming while his rear faces University of Colorado; Colorado State University’s two biggest rivals.) We grabbed a bite to eat at the Emily’s favorite; Beau Jo’s and hit the road for Windsor High School.

Windsor HS overview!
Windsor High School is a two teacher program with approximately 175 students enrolled in their secondary Agriculture Education program. Teaching a variety of classes within four different pathways including animal science, veterinary science, plant science, and mechanics, their fairly new facility brings lots of incredible opportunities to students in the more urban area of Colorado the school calls home. The group is privileged to expand our network with teachers like those at Windsor High School and enjoyed quality fellowship, advice and tips and tricks from those well-seasoned in the occupation. Both educators shared some creative fundraising ideas that the FFA Chapter puts to use – a topic that all Agriculture teachers, to-be or current, are always interested in discussing! The students there were wrapping up some stellar Agriscience fair projects that we enjoyed viewing before beginning the beautifully scenic drive towards our home for the next few days, Boulder.

We checked into our hotel and ended our evening with dinner with Mr. Mike Womochil, the director of Agriculture Education in the state of Colorado and Mr. Scott Stump the director of Career and Technical Education in Colorado. Both of these men play a key role in the future of Agriculture Education in Colorado and have unique visions for the programs across the state. They shared with us the Colorado Cluster of Career and Technical Education and discussed with us challenges and successes they find within the field. To end our day, the floor was opened for some inspiring discussion and question and answer time across the group. Penn State Teach Ag! Society members and Domestic Study Away attendees value partnerships like those we’ve established with these two incredible gentlemen who are passionate about the future of Agriculture Education not only in Colorado but across the nation.

Thank you again to the CHS Foundation and the Penn State College of Agriculture Sciences for helping make this wonderful learning opportunity happen!

Written by:
Janae Herr
2016 Student Teacher

Bryanna Kenno
2015 Student Teacher

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2nd Annual Domestic Study Away! #TeachAgDSA14 - Day 1 - Small School Success & Big Picture Vision

Editor's Note: During our 8 day adventure with 14 teacher candidates and 2 chaperones, we will have two guest bloggers share their observations every day!

Sunny and 75 degrees to snowy and 35 degrees has been a blast of fresh air for Teach Ag! Society's Domestic Study Away! This week, thanks to help from the CHS foundation and the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences,  14 Penn Stater's headed out west to Colorado to tour it's awesome schools, beautiful sites, agribusiness's and so much more to learn about how much of a need we have for agriculture educators and what different states can offer!

PSU Major Selfie #TeachAgDSA14
The adventure started with an early morning, leaving from Pittsburg International Airport and then landing in Denver, Colorado. As we drove through Colorado, we traveled to Prairie High School in New Raymer, to learn about their new state of the art school as well as their awesome agriculture education program! This school had geothermal heating, a new agriculture mechanics laboratory, natural lighting in all rooms with the regular lights, brand new touch screen computers, a room where students can take college classes through a camera with an professor on TV monitors, and plenty more awesome gadgets that made this school a gem in this Colorado area.
PSU AEE Major Janae Herr
jumping in to participate

As we toured the agriculture shop, we were able to see a class that is not typically in most schools. Mrs. Lure, the agriscience teacher at the school taught a class where students can sign up to learn how to artificially inseminate cows. With a class of 7, 6 being freshman and 1 sophomore, these students were in the cattle chute actually getting their hands dirty! Ms. Lure even has the class final to be able to properly demonstrate an AI procedure on 2 cows and if you wanted extra credit you could do up to 3 more! These students were able to get-hands on learning that will help them with their futures in a heartbeat. As we kept going through the school, the superintendent gave us awesome pointers about what he looks for in future teacher candidates as well as what we can do to be successful.
Prairie Superintendent (and former Ag Teacher) Joe Kimmel sharing wisdom

After we said our goodbyes, we departed to Colorado State University where we dined at their annual ATA banquet. They were very welcoming and had great food! After we ate, they proceeded with a presentation that literally blew all of us out of the water. The agriculture education program has designed, and will implement in December, a new building that will be a hub for agriculture educators: a Center for Agricultural Education in Colorado. See the inserted video below for a virtual tour. The building will consist of teaching rooms, a study lounge, a media commons, a work shop to learn hands on teaching strategies, and so much more all for future and current agriculture educators. As the plan is implemented, we hope to check back in to see what Colorado State has done, and potentially if we can bring that idea to Penn State!

This week is going to be a blast! Check back in everyday to see what Teach Ag! Society is up to!
The Teach Ag! Society Crew would also like to send a shout out to CHS and the College of Agriculture Sciences for helping us get to Colorado for our Domestic Study Away!

Written by:
Olivia Murphy-Sweet
2016 Student Teacher

Jeanne Case
2014 PSU Graduate

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Allison Hoover (@allihoov), Inaugural AgriCorps Volunteer! #Liberia

Allison Hoover
The semester is wrapping up, student teachers are coming back to Penn State, and graduates are on the hunt for jobs! One student however, knows exactly what she is doing and it is a lot different than what most normal graduates would do! Allison Hoover (@allihoov), has been hired to be one of twelve, first time volunteers to work with AgriCorps in Liberia for a year!
For as long as Allison can remember, she has wanted to travel. She has studied abroad in Costa Rica and has traveled to Thailand and Cambodia which have all opened her eyes to new opportunities and has prepared her for this experience. When she was hired by AgriCorps, she discovered that she would be working in Liberia. Liberia is a small country (about the size of Pennsylvania) located in the western coast of sub-Saharan Africa.

The volunteers will be placed in different villages in Bong County which is northeast of the capital city of Monrovia. The mission of AgriCorps is to serve the impoverished and food insecure communities of Liberia by empowering youth with agricultural education. Allison will be working with local secondary schools teaching science with the agricultural content. They will be serving as experts in youth leadership and development by designing 4-H clubs, be developing school gardens, and design programs to empower the youth in skills that would be similar to an SAE experience.

Allison is looking forward to seeing Africa in all of its beauty! It has so much cultural history and geographic diversity that she can’t wait to immerse herself in it. She also realizes that it will be a lot different than what she is used to. The challenges with not having any family or friends there, no running water, or luxurious comforts for a whole year will be hard, but she knows that it is the right plan for her. “One thing I learned in my student teaching experience is that I love teaching kids… especially in the setting of agriculture education. There are countless beautiful souls in this world, and I will get to meet, grow, and establish friendships with them.”

Allison is going to do great things in the future and through her hard work and passion, she is going to make an impact in every life that she touches in Liberia! We all at Penn State wish her luck in her success and can't wait to hear the amazing stories that she will bring back home with her! Congratulations Allison!

If you would like to learn more about what the AgriCorps has to offer, and if it is right for you, please click on the provided link or check out this blog!

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! 

Olivia Murphy-Sweet
Student Blogger
Teach Ag! Avenger

Twitter Handle @OSweetMurph
2016 Agricultural Education Student Teacher 

Catching up with #psuaged14 member Annette Sprenkel about her student teaching!

Annette Sprenkel, 2014 Student Teacher
The members of #psuaged14 have completed their student teaching and our back on campus to enjoy time together and wrap up their experiences before walking across the stage at graduation! This week we are catching up with Annette Sprenkel

Annette (@AnnetteSnook) grew up in Middleburg, PA where she was an active member in the Midd-West High School agriculture program. She just finished her student teaching at Juniata High school where she taught a total of 14 units reaching 119 students.

She chose Juniata High School because she wanted to experience a program different from the one she grew up in. She was familiar with a two teacher program that was both males and Juniata was a one teacher department run by Mrs. Jessica Morgan. This and many other factors drew Annette to Juniata. She stated “There was also something about the community and students that was different from other places I visited; it just felt right at Juniata. Turns out this was the best/most important decision I've ever made!”

Along with the units she taught, Annette did coaching in public speaking as well. Check out the promotional video she made!

After 15 weeks in the classroom Annette’s greatest take away was that “no matter what you know and how good you can teach, it is nothing if you cannot connect to the students! Making relationships is the most important AND rewarding thing you can do!” After student teaching, her future goal is to teach Ag forever!

Read about Annette's student teaching experience on her blog "Where I've Been, Where I'm Going"

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!

Laura Metrick
Student Blogger
2015 Student Teacher