Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Teach Ag! Legend: Mr. Bob Lauffer

"If it was easy everyone would do it,"
 Tom Hanks in a League of Their Own was on to something, and our Ag Education Legend, couldn't agree more!  Mr.  Bob Lauffer taught high school agriscience for thirty seven years at Garden Spot High School, the same school he student taught at.  His dedication to the profession, accomplishments and joy for teaching are an encouragement to those in the classroom and hoping to be.   
Mr. Lauffer & his students at National FFA Convention.

His plan: to work at a national park as an interpretive naturalist.  He knew a teaching certification would place him on that path, but then he started his student teaching experience, where his plans changed a little...  "Truthfully, I never intended to teach," he said.  Once he started teaching he loved everything about it, he loved the variety and loved that it wasn't easy.  He loved the "teacher as a coach" mode of teaching.  A  combination of teaching knowledge and skills and decision making and then putting students into situations where they can demonstrate mastery of that skill set. He found that far more satisfying than teaching solely for a test.  

Those thirty seven years led him to many accomplishments.  Mr. Lauffer is the founder of the Wildlife Career Development Event for the state of Pennsylvania, a project he did for his Master's thesis.  He helped develop the state Aquatics CDE and served as the campaign manager for MeeCee Baker, the first female NAAE President.  He served on Lancaster County's Ag Ed Organization Board (LCVATA), and held various offices including President and Vice President for PAAE.   His favorite memories though, were working with students on community service projects.  His school participated in Building Our American Communities.  "I enjoyed the way a group of students could identify something they wanted to improve, develop a plan of action, go after the necessary resources and then culminate all the effort and planning with getting it done."  

The work of legends goes beyond the classroom.  His accomplishments created programs for students to strive for accomplishments and learn about our industry, but it was his dedication to his students and the profession that inspired others to join him.  "One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is that 6 of my  former students became ag teachers."  His advice? "Be open to every experience and glean as much as you can. Always ask the question, how would I approach that lesson if I were teaching it? Is there anything I could do that might make it better? Lastly, be real with yourself, your peers, your professors and once you start to teach especially with your students. Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something and let kids see your willingness to learn from and with them."

As Penn State prepares Agricultural Educators, we look to legends in the field for advice and inpiration.  He was a "non-aggie" who never thought he would step foot into the classroom, but has continued to be someone who holds true to the values of the Ag Teacher's Creed

I am an agricultural educator by choice and not by chance.
I believe in American agriculture; I dedicate my life to its development and the advancement of its people.
I will strive to set before my students by my deeds and actions the highest standards of citizenship for the community, state and nation.
I will endeavor to develop professionally through study, travel and exploration.
I will not knowingly wrong my fellow teachers. I will defend them as far as honesty will permit.
I will work for the advancement of agricultural education and I will defend it in my community, state and nation.
I realize that I am a part of the school system. I will work in harmony with school authorities and other teachers of the school.
My love for youth will spur me on to impart something from my life that will help make for each of my students a full and happy future.

Congratulations Mr. Bob Lauffer!  You are an example all of us look to in Agricultural Education!  

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.

Kayla Hack

Student Blogger

Twitter Handle: @hackkayla

2017 Agriculture Education Student Teacher

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