Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ag Ed Year in Review #success

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Don't blink you might just have missed an amazing year for our department faculty and students! 2016 has been a year full of many rewarding experiences for our department. If you did not stay connected with us throughout the past 12 months, we have outlined below a few of the amazing individuals and events. 


Dr. Laura Rice Recognized for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching-

The Paul R. and Joan M. Shellenberger Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching is an honor for any teacher here on the Penn State Campus. This award recognizes full time instructors who exhibit excellence in undergraduate teaching and contribute significantly to the education of undergraduate students. Dr. Laura Rice was honored with this award as an instructor in the Agriculture Education and Extension Department. She teaches AEE 100 and helps prepare student teacher candidates by working with them one-on-one.


Dr. Daniel Foster Receives Recognition as PAAE Mentor of the Year-

The Pennsylvania Association of Agriculture Educators recognizes many members each year for their outstanding service, dedication and accomplishments. This year Dr. Daniel Foster is the PAAE Mentor of the Year!  His continued dedication and mentoring to various secondary ag teachers makes him deserving of this award. He was nominated by the Directors of Pennsylvania Agricultural Educators.


Teach Ag! Banquet-

Teach Ag! joined with Collegiate FFA to celebrate the 80th end of semester banquet! The banquet recognized the organization’s and individual members' accomplishments. Guests in attendance were Mr. Cliff Day, retired agricultural educator,  and Mr. Scott Sheely, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. The following individuals were honored for their service to our program: Diane Glock Cornman (Educator of the Year), Matthew Snyder (Outstanding Teach Ag! Member of the Year), Katie Andrews (Collegiate FFA Outstanding Senior).


PSU College of Agricultural Sciences Graduation Ceremony-

The twelve 2016 Student Teachers returned back to University Park to put on their caps and gowns, and walk across stage to receive the diploma they worked hard for throughout the year.  All of these graduates have since been hired, and are creating change in programs across the country!

Domestic Study Away-

Seven future agricultural educators participated in the 4th annual Domestic Study Away trip. The focus was STEM in agricultural education in urban and rural settings. Although they each had different reasons for going on this trip, they all ended with renewed passion for agricultural education.

PA FFA State Days-

This year the Penn State Teach Ag! Essay Contest had 52 participates. The contest allowed agriculture students from across Pennsylvania to experience a day in the life of an ag teacher. Students had to pick an agriculture topic, develop a lesson plan to teach their class, and then write an essay.  Their essay had to answer the following questions; “Why teach Ag?” and “What I learned as an Ag teacher for a day!” The top four individual students awarded at PA FFA State Days were Bethany Comp (Greenwood High School), Alaina Davis (Octorara High School), Thomas Gabel (Newport High School), and KamiLee Woodring (Bald Eagle Area High School).


FAST Symposium-

The 2016 Future Agriscience Teacher (FAST) symposium was held September 20 - 22 in conjunction with the National Teach Ag Day celebrations in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Of the twenty-three individuals selected, two were members of the Penn State Teach Ag! Society, and Agricultural Education Student Teacher Candidates. Congratulations to George Dietrich and Victoria Herr for being selected to participate in the FAST symposium!

Big E-

Eight members of Penn State Collegiate FFA traveled to West Springfield to assist with preparation and facilitation of several CDEs. During the first day, they assisted with the Extemporaneous Speaking, and Vet Science CDEs. Participants then assisted supervisors with Poultry, Environmental and Natural Resources, and Food Science CDEs.


National FFA Convention-

Seven, 2017 Penn State Student Teachers, and eighteen students studying Agricultural and Extension Education participated in National Alpha Tau Alpha competitions. there were many high placing individuals and teams.  With all the individual and team achievements, the Penn State Teach Ag! Society was able to receive recognition as the recipient of the A.W. Nolan Memorial Leadership Award at the ATA Conclave. These are achievements our members can be proud of! 

Dr. John Ewing Receive Honorary American Degree-

Dr. Ewing was chosen to receive the Honorary American FFA Degree at the 89th National FFA Convention. He was nominated by the Pennsylvania FFA Association, then the members of the National FFA board of directors approved Dr. Ewing's nomination. The Honorary American FFA Degree is an opportunity to recognize those who have gone beyond valuable daily contributions to make an extraordinary long-term difference in the lives of students by inspiring confidence in a new generation of agriculturists. 


Dr. John Ewing Receives Northern Region Award –

Congratulations Dr. Ewing for being recognized as the Community of Scholars 2016 Northern Region Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences.The Community of Scholars Honoring Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences program recognizes outstanding college professors of agriculture, natural resources, veterinary and human sciences was launched in 1992 to recognize university faculty for preparing students for the future. 

Operation Christmas Child-

The Penn State Collegiate FFA and Teach Ag! Society joined together to give back to those less fortunate. Together 35 members channeled their holiday spirit to join in celebration of National Collection Week to pack 60 boxes for Operation Christmas Child! Operation Christmas Child uses gift-filled shoeboxes to ensure that children in need around the world have something worth celebrating.


Alpha Tau Alpha Initiation-

Seven students were initiated into the Alpha Tau Alpha Eta Chapter. Alpha Tau Alpha is a national, professional, honorary agricultural society founded in 1921. The Eta Chapter was organized at Penn State in 1931, and has continued membership since! The organization strives to promote the high standards and ideals in agricultural and extension education. The seven students that joined will enjoy the fellowship with members in an atmosphere of high scholarship that is dedicated to teaching, and who have a sincere desire to be a leader. These students are the following individuals: Michael Cahill, Rose Cowan, George Dietrich, Victoria Herr, Sara Lang, Matt Snyder, and Halee Wasson. 

As you can see, 2016 was a fantastic year! All three of our faculty members were awarded with academic excellence awards.  We are swelled with Penn State Pride!
Stay tune to find out the larger impact we will leave in 2017 as we continue to Teach Ag!  WE ARE................

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.

Halee Wasson

Student Blogger

Twitter Handle: @wasson_halee

2018 Agriculture Education Student Teacher

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas... (well, not this time) #NAAE

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Well, not this time because Kayla Hack, Miranda Kane, and Matthew Snyder want to share their experiences from their week spent at the NAAE Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada!

Although these three 2017 student teacher candidates have not claimed the title as an “Agriculture Educator” quite yet, they were provided the opportunity to attend the National Association of Agricultural Educators Convention as scholarship recipients and passionate learners for agricultural education. This experience was well worth the adventure across the United States. Kayla Hack shared, “It was awesome and really opened my eyes to some of my own views and ideas; while highlighted areas of growth- and of course lit the flame even higher in my excitement to be in the classroom.” It truly was an experience that all three took so much away from. Read below to find out more take-aways and thoughts in Vegas for NAAE shared by Miranda, Kayla and Matt!

Miranda Kane:

“My biggest take-away was understanding that agricutlural educators may not be perfect, but they continue to work hard in order to give the best to their students. I was able to experience their willingness first-hand as the teachers provided guidance and help to others. I loved asking questions to teachers and hearing their responses. They all gave great insight and shared some really crazy and amazing stories about their experiences as a teacher. I also loved being under the same roof with many amazing agricultural educators from across the nation and hearing their wisdom. Almost all of the sessions were led by current or past agricutlural educators. They all had some really great things to share which provided me more confidence for teaching in the future.

Also during the FAST Symposium, we got some really great resources to use in the classroom. But more than anything, I now know I have a unique and loyal support network of teachers in and out of Pennsylvania who I know will be more than happy to help me. Seeing the Ag Ed family put their heads together at the convention, and welcome us student teachers makes me feel good about the profession I am getting into. Even in the smallest of ways, the teachers are helpful. I am so thankful for this experience, but it would not have been possible without the co-sponsorship from Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators!”

Kayla Hack:

“The National Association of Agricultural Educators Convention is one of those conferences that you know others have LOVED- so you can’t wait to go, that was me, and I don’t regret it.  There were many highlights from my experience at convention that are  below.

It’s a tough job, but it’s not about you- so put on your sassy pants and deal with itThis is a combination of many quotes I heard from Rachel Sauvala, an agriculture teacher from Wisconsin during her workshop at NAAE convention.  Her workshop of delegation and utilizing community support and resources reminded me that no matter how nervous/unsure I am, I can do this job- and there are people that WANT to support me and my future students.  

Inquiry Takes Practice. I LOVE new resources and ideas and attending Future Agriscience Teacher Symposium as well as other inquiry based workshops provided me with supplies, content and cool tools to implement these new ideas.  The inquiry model and labs are two things I will use during my student teaching experience as I try to move students toward more student centered learning. 

Overall, professional development is extremely important and as a learner- I love it, and can’t get enough.  I am thankful that Penn State’s Center for Professional Personnel Development, the Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators and Teach Ag! Society choice to support students like us- as well as the Future Agriscience Teacher Symposium sponsored by CHS, Growth Energy and DuPont Pioneer.”

Matthew Snyder:

“What a week! I am so thankful for the experience at NAAE Convention I became truly inspired to teach Ag!

This experience provided me with so many resources beyond what I had ever imagined. There are numerous ideas for not only lessons, but classroom structure, behavior, and more.

This experience also provided me with  a lot of new insight for the classroom. I always have to remember that I cannot to everything, but I can create change through my abilities that I have, and students will still appreciate and learn from that! Thank you to everyone who supported this experience.”

All three of these students have brought so much back from Vegas, we are glad they did not keep it there! Check out their blogs for more insight on the experience and their utilization of these resources throughout their time student teaching.

Blog Links:

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.

Halee Wasson

Student Blogger

Twitter Handle: @wasson_halee

2018 Agriculture Education Student Teacher

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Mikaela Hermstedt named Shinoda Scholar of the Year #studentsuccess

“Believe deep down in your heart that you're destined to do great things.”

Mikaela Hermstedt named Shinoda Scholar of the Year!
These are the famous words of Joe Paterno that every ‘Nittany Lion’ exemplifies throughout their journey at the Pennsylvania State University. Mikaela Hermstedt, a senior majoring in Plant Sciences, believes that her journey has allowed and prepared her to do great things in her future.

Mikaela has put much time and effort into her academics as a Shreyers Honors College student, and as an officer in multiple university clubs and organizations. Through this hard work and effort she has had the opportunity to work with the Penn State botany greenhouses and complete a Nursery Management Internship at Longwood Gardens. All while serving as President for Collegiate FFA, President for Agricultural Student Council, Treasurer for International Association of Agricultural Students, and a Team Member for Student Organization Resource Team. From these experiences she was able to build multiple skills that she plans to use in her future in commercial greenhouse production of flowering plants.

Mikaela’s hard work and work ethic is what has earned her The Shinoda Foundation highest honor as the Shinoda Scholar of the Year! One professor recommending her for the award noted, “I would rank Mikaela as one of my top students in the past 10 years at Penn State in terms of work ethic, but also in terms of attention to detail, cooperative spirit and excellent communication skills.”

The Shinoda Foundation’s sole purpose is to provide scholarship assistance to deserving students who have chosen to prepare for careers in the flower industry. It is only through education that the interests and potential of young people can be developed in order to meet the expanding demands of the floral industry. “These students represent horticulture’s best and brightest,” says Bob Otsuka, president of the Foundation. “It’s our industry’s duty to grow our future, and we’re proud to play a small role.”

Mikaela is truly one of those deserving students! She is destined to do great things to help grow the future of the floral industry.

Congratulations Mikaela Hermstedt!

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.

Halee Wasson

Student Blogger

Twitter Handle: @wasson_halee

2018 Agriculture Education Student Teacher