Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mississippi Mindsets: Reflecting back on the 3rd Annual Teach Ag! Society Domestic Study Away (#PSUAgEd2Miss)

Editor's note: This is the final blog installment of our third annual Teach Ag! Society Domestic Study Away to Mississippi to help with financial literacy and supervised agricultural experience

Welcome to the Hospitality State!

Maybe you’ve been following along this past month as Penn State Teach Ag! adventured to new frontiers in school-based agricultural education and if not, that’s okay! Let me catch you up. 

On Monday, May 11th, 15 Penn State Agricultural & Extension Education students and faculty boarded a plane to depart for the third annual Penn State Teach Ag! Domestic Study Away to the great “Hospitality State” of Mississippi. This year with a unique focus on financial literacy in the Appalachia; particularly in the area of Supervised Agricultural Experiences, or SAE.

Top Ten Fast Facts on 2015 DSA!

Here’s the top 10 fast facts you should know about #PSUAgEd2Miss. (Check out that hashtag too! Lots of cool stuff was shared on social media!)

1. Traveled 1300+ miles across Mississippi (and a little of Louisiana, too!)

2. Cool Rental Vans (one that was more like a spaceship)

3. Unique, Mississippi-famous commodity visits

4. Generous supporters who helped make this a financially viable! (Thanks CHS, Center for Professional Personnel Development, PSU College of Agricultural Sciences Student Activities Fund and Penn State University Park Student Allocations Committee!)

5. Great Stakeholder and partner visits

6. As in SIX Wonderful School-based Agriculture Programs

7. Seven Mississippi secondary agriculture education students (okay, actually take that times 20. 140 STUDENTS!) to share the impact of Supervised Agriculture Education with.

8. Eight Days away

9. Nine Super fabulous meals, provided for us by our Mississippi friends! (Talk about tasty catfish, crawfish, BBQ and anything else fried!)

10. Incredible role-models of secondary agricultural educators

You may be thinking, “wow, all that in one week?!” Yes, all that and more in one week! Upon the completion of an end-of-trip reflection activity, there seemed to be several common themes between team members. The impact of the Domestic Study Away stretched much further then simply the opportunity to experience a state, culture and agriculture much different then our own. You can read more about our adventures in the blog posts that came before this one but for now let me quickly simplify things to help you understand the power of this year’s Domestic Study Away. Here’s three big take-aways...

“A glimpse of one team members
interpretation during reflection
of the week in Mississippi.”
Three Big Take Aways

1. Community in Agricultural Education is powerful.

We had the privilege to visit six, really wonderful agricultural education programs while in Mississippi. During every single visit, the teachers and students shared with us the impact that partnerships with their community had on their program. For some, it was alumni and parents preparing a meal for us all to enjoy together, for others it was financial and resource support, it was recruitment, innovation, tradition and passion. Continually in reflection conversations, team members discussed the beauty of the examples of community in the agriculture education programs we engaged with. It was inspiring, knowing that together - teacher, parent, neighbor and student, powerful things were happening both inside and outside those walls.

“We don’t give expecting to get back, but for some reason they still always give back to us.” 
2015 PSU Teach Ag! Society DSA Team:
A part of our community
- Mr. Andy White, Brandon (MS) FFA Advisor/ Agriscience Teacher

2. The influence of the components of the Three-Circle Model, in all its forms.

Classroom Instruction, FFA and Supervised Agriculture Experience. These are three key components, such that with one missing an agricultural education program arguably cannot function to its fullest potential. While in Mississippi, we witnessed a wide range of programs; programs that have similar strengths and weaknesses of Pennsylvania programs work alongside of. The Domestic Study Away is a powerful tool that allows pre-service teachers to experience the diversity, trials and victories of agricultural programs across the nation and use that to better our own future programs. Facilities can be a factor to success, but they are also not a sole reason a program is great. The same goes for funding, access to resources, location, etc. It seems as though the success of a program is best measured by the implementation of Classroom Instruction, FFA and Supervised Agricultural Experience Model. No matter the format, each of those three pieces seems to be a secret ingredient to a recipe to success. 

“Without labor, neither knowledge nor wisdom accomplish much.” 
- The FFA Creed

3. We chose the right profession.

Agricultural Education is not for the faint of heart; but, it is for the passionate, the fun-loving, the adventurous, the innovative and the curious. It is for individuals who are driven to meet student’s needs, wherever they are. Regardless of age, location or ability. Agricultural Education is for those who are zealous about seeing their students and communities develop into the best versions of themselves. These people make up an incredible, wild family; a nation-wide network of professionals passionately pursuing the future of agriculture. I think I can speak for all Penn State students who embarked on this Mississippi adventure; the agricultural education profession was displayed for us in true authenticity. Though the road to get there may not be easy, it most surely will be worth it.

“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire”
- W.B. Yeats

“What a good-looking bunch of future agricultural educators! Here’s to bright futures!”
Photo Courtesy of  Mississippi State University 
The third annual Domestic Study Away was surely one for the books. Undoubtedly, the team returned with a refueled passion, ready to enter another school year and even more prepared to one day enter our own classrooms. However, there are many appropriate thanks that are due. Our experience would not have been possible without the generous and continued support of four pivotal partners: the CHS Foundation, PSU Center for Professional and Personnel Development in Agricultural Education, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences and University Park Allocation Committee. We are forever grateful for your contribution to the furthering of preparing dedicated school-based agriculture educators. 

Another sincere thank you is due also to Dr. Gaea Hock and her fantastic team of individuals from Mississippi State University (and more!) who worked so diligently to organize, design and fund this unforgettable trip! We couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you!

Until next year,

Janae Herr
2015 Teach Ag! Society Domestic Study Away Chair
2016 Student Teacher

Link to Flickr Photo Album of all Domestic Study Aways:

Other Blog Posts

#PSUAgEd2Miss: Day 6 - Historical Exploration! Gettysburg to Vicksburg
  • Nathan Repetz, 2017 Student Teacher, @N8_Repetz
#PSUAgEd2Miss: Day 5 - Delta Dawn: Exploring Agrarian Roots 
  • Laura Metrick, 2015 Graduate, @Its_LauraBeth
  • Jenna Timmons, 2016 Student Teacher, @jitimmons
#PSUAgEd2Miss: Day 4- MSU Bulldog Pride and Mantachie Mustang Motivation 
  • Deanna Miller, 2015 Graduate, @Deannapsu15
  • Samantha Sessamen, 2016 Student Teacher, @smsessamen
#PSUAgEd2Miss - Day 3: Great Coasts and Great Schools! The power of Agriculture
  • Katie Andrews, 2016 Student Teacher, @klandrews_24
  • Matt Holt, 2016 Student Teacher, @mholt5595
  • Heather Wasson, 2018 Student Teacher, @heatwasson
#PSUAgEd2Miss - Day 2: SAE SuperStars! Loyd Star and Ocean Springs 
  • Sarabeth Royer, 2016 Student Teacher, @sb_royer
  • Mason Tate, 2016 Student Teacher, @mttate18
#PSUAgEd2Miss - Day 1 of the Domestic Study Away: On the Road Again! 
  • Janae Bickhart, 2015 Graduate, @JanaeBickhart
  • Erin Yoest, 2016 Student Teacher, @eyoest519

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