Friday, August 11, 2017

@TeachAgPSU welcomes Jill Palmer to the #TeachAg Family

2016-2017 Pennsylvania State FFA
Reporter, Jill Palmer
Jill Palmer has just recently finished her year of service as the Pennsylvania State FFA Reporter.  In June, she was able to pass her torch onto the newly elected reporter and is now looking towards her future of becoming a Penn State Student.  Jill will be an incoming freshman to Penn State Mont Alto this fall, majoring in Agriculture and Extension Education! 

Jill didn't grow up on a farm but knew from a very young age that she loved being outside and was completely obsessed with driving around and looking at the beautiful farms in her community, thinking to herself “Wow, I wish I can do that someday!”  That day came sooner than she thought, as she entered into high school and was able to hear about her FFA chapter at Southern Fulton Jr/Sr High School.  She was instantly curious and excited to have the opportunity to “be a farmer”.  Little did she know that being a part of the Warfordsburg FFA chapter would be so much more that being a farmer and farming was so much more than just driving a tractor!  She quickly learned that the organization was focused on building lifelong skills that would help guild her on her path to a future dream career. She knew from that point on that Ag Ed was always going to be a part of her life.  “I really found a sense of belonging in a world I was so unfamiliar with, and really understood what it meant to be a leader.”

She began pushing herself to try new things and to become as involved as she could.  From participating in Career development events like dairy judging and competing in her favorite contest
Jill still has a love and
passion for the dairy
industry and cows! 
which was public speaking.  She loved “being able to have the power to talk in a room of 10,000 people and still make a connection with someone!”  Knowing Jill now, you never would guess that she used to be shy.  In school, her favorite Ag classes were Small and Large Animal Science.  She loved them so much that she took them two years in a row, just because she wanted to learn more and improve her grade from before.  She had a few different Supervised Agricultural Experiences over the years but her all-time favorite was her Dairy Exploratory project.  She never grew up on a farm but her Ag teacher married a dairy farmer which opened the door for Jill to explore the dairy industry.  She was able to pick out calves, heifers and cows to halter break, clip and show at the local fair.  She instantly fell in love with dairy and has been able to continue this project every year and still does.  “I couldn’t have picked a more fun activity to teach someone how to work hard and be patient!”      

I asked Jill, What made you want to teach agriculture?  I wasn’t surprised to learn that this has been
Jill Palmer with her Ag Teacher
Rebecca Mosemann
her dream for a long time; ever since the 10th grade!  This was a hard year for Jill but no matter what she was going through, FFA was there to make life so much more worth it.  Her advisor, Rebecca Mosemann, also had a huge impact on Jill and helped to encourage her to not give up. “From that moment on I knew that I never want to leave FFA and I want to be able to serve others like my advisor served me when I was struggling. Relationships with others are everything to me, and the best relationships I have made have been inside this blue and gold jacket, and I couldn’t have done it without the love and patience of a willing ag teacher.”  Of course serving the past year as a State Officer has only boost her passion and desire to teach.  She was able to learn how to facilitate a classroom and how to convey a message to students.  Most importantly, she says that her past year has helped her to learn how to make solid connections with other and be a better role model.  “When you build up that relationship with others and sharpen the ability to connect with them, as soon as you teach them something they’re going to respect you and listen to the things you’re saying.” 

Jill explained that to her, Agriculture education is important not just because we teach students how to clothe and feed the world, but we also teach them how to be respectful, hard working leaders while doing a lot of the dirty work that no one else in society would make the sacrifice to do. These students are some of the most intelligent, and willing students I’ve seen come out of these high schools. They graduate with a plan, whether it’s working or going to college, and they’re ready to take on life because they’ve been taught how to work hard and efficiently.  That’s why when I asked her what advice she would give someone thinking about Agriculture Education, she simply said “It is so incredibly worth it!  Ag teachers make a lot of sacrifices. They take family time and spend it driving their students to conferences, and they stay after school to help us study for those competitions, but they build relationships with their students.  Being an agricultural educator is a lot of work, but to know that you’re doing work for students’ that has the potential to change their lives, makes it so worth it!”
The retiring 2016-2017 Pa State FFA
Officer Team! 

We want to welcome Jill Palmer to the PSU Ag Ed family and hope that her passion and experiences help to guide her in this upcoming journey!

Macy Fisher, Student Blogger
Twitter Handle: @macy_fisher
#psuaged18 member
2018 Selinsgrove Student Teacher

Friday, August 4, 2017

Guest Blog @allyson_balmer: CASE Institute 2017 - Welcome to Professional Development

My name is Allyson Balmer and I am a rising senior at Penn State University majoring in Agricultural and Extension Education. I am a member of the 2018 cohort and will be student teaching this spring with Gretchen Dingman at Tri-Valley High School.

A few weeks ago I had the incredible opportunity to attend a CASE (Curriculum in Agricultural Science Education) Institute and get certified in the Natural Resources and Ecology curriculum in Pontiac, Illinois.

The institute lasted 10 days, where the class of agriculture teachers, from various states, went through the entire course in that amount of time. As I went through the course, I played the role of a student and filled out the entire student binder and all the worksheets. My lead teachers would check certain lessons that had to be done proficiently and at the end of the 10 days, I was certified. This certification will always stay with me, as I now have the entire teacher and student curriculum.

Here are a few things I learned while at my CASE Institute:

1. Agriculture Teachers ARE Science Teachers.

In every agriculture class there is some aspect of biology, chemistry, etc. that is reiterated and brought to life at a hands-on level. Thus, we, as agriculture educators, need to take that seriously so that we can continue to be respected among academia.

For example, if there is a lab activity for students to conduct, we need to make the experience as "real-life" as possible. This means using glass beakers, flasks, graduated cylinders, pipette droppers, microscopes, and other scientific lab equipment whenever possible. Enough with using Dixie cups. Let's show the other academic areas that we too can put science literacy and skills into our agriculture curriculum.

By doing this, students feel more valued, that their work is important, and that their development in all STEAM (science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics) fields is a priority to agriculture education.

2. Inquiry-Based Instruction/Self-Directed Learning

Throughout my collegiate career, the topics of self-directed learning, growth mindset, and inquiry-based instruction have been the focus of a variety of classes. There is a central theme, a shift to student-centered learning where the teacher is a guide/mentor/facilitator. Students are encouraged and challenged to ask why, think at a deeper level, and become less dependent on the teacher.

In CASE, this is a highly important component to both understand and practice in the classroom. This curriculum is designed for student discovery by following the step-by-step procedures provided in their student binders. This means less spoon-feeding, developing students who can problem-solve on their feet, and creating hands-on and real-world application even in a classroom setting.

This experience was an opportunity of a lifetime for a pre-service agriculture teacher as I made new connections, gathered ideas from other agriculture teachers nationwide, and now have an incredible curriculum to use while student teaching and beyond.

Allyson Balmer
Penn State University
Agricultural and Extension Education
2018 Student-Teaching Cohort at Tri-Valley High School
Twitter: @allyson_balmer

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Guest Blog: #PAAE17: Learning from the Wise

Here, by the owl... 
The owl is a time honored emblem of knowledge and wisdom.

The Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators held their annual conference in Philadelphia from July 11th through July 14th. The 2018 cohort of Penn State Agricultural and Extension Education Majors had the opportunity to attend.

Tuesday, July 11
Tuesday the student teachers and their cooperating teachers took part in the "Teach Ag Adventure Orientation" guided by our fantastic Ag Ed specialists Dr. Daniel Foster, Dr. John Ewing, Dr. Kevin Curry, and Dr. Laura Rice. I feel more prepared for my student teaching than I did prior to this meeting and I want to thank my professors for this. 
Ms. Carole Fay having lots of fun
at Dave and Buster's.

After our meeting we joined the other conference goers for an interesting evening filled with fun and games at Dave and Buster's. I never knew how much fun a great group of agriscience teachers could have but I sure am glad to be joining this group of superb teachers and interesting individuals. 

Wednesday, July 12
The Philadelphia FFA Chapter at
W.B. Saul is the largest
chapter in Pennsylvania! 
On Wednesday we made it to Walter Biddle Saul Agricultural High School! We began our day with committee meetings and a school tour. It was amazing to see kids so passionate about agriculture in such an urban place. Afterwards, the conference attendees broke up into groups and headed off to respective tours. I was lucky enough to receive a behind the scenes tour of the Philadelphia Zoo! I learned about the unique programs that the zoo hosts for high school students annually. After the zoo we went to dinner near Reading Terminal Market. Then one of my favorite activities of the week was a double decker bus tour of the city of brotherly love! 
The 2018 cohort posed for a photo on the bus with Ms. Fay
and Ms. Seibert photo-bombing in the back.
Macy learning about
wildlife forensics and
gaining tools for

Thursday, July 13
Thursday was a day filled with workshops at W.B. Saul that provided me with many teaching tools that I cannot wait to utilize in the classroom. Our banquet was that evening and one thing is for certain, we all clean up nicely! Awards were given out at the banquet and we had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Foster auction off items that were donated to support the association as well as the national relief fund. 

Friday, July 14
On the final day of #PAAE17 we attended meetings and our final workshop which provided even more exciting teaching tools. After thanking our wonderful hosts we started the journey back to University Park. 

I was thankful for this experience to build connections with seasoned leaders as I continue to grow my teaching skills. I may be just a fledgling but hanging out with owls for a week has taught, excited, and inspired me for my #TeachAg journey. I can't wait. Hoot Hoot!

Angela Becker
2018 Student Teacher at Manheim Central High School
Twitter: @BeckerAngelaM
Instagram: @MissBecker_MC

Monday, July 24, 2017

Welcome @PAFFA Vice President Thomas Gabel (@gabel_thomas) to @TeachAgPSU

Newly elected #PAFFA Vice President, Thomas Gabel, will be joining our @TeachAgPSU
Thomas Gabel, State FFA
Vice President
family this fall!  Thomas will be an incoming freshman to Penn State majoring in Agriculture and Extension Education. 
Thomas’s interest in the agriculture industry started at a young age as he grew up working and learning on his family’s dairy farm.  He was heavily involved with 4-H as a youth which was mirrored later in his years in the Newport FFA.  His favorite Leadership Development Event was Parliamentary Procedure and his Supervised Agricultural Experience was on farm employment at his home dairy farm in Perry County.  Thomas quickly became intrigued by the countless opportunities and career options within the industry.   This is when his passion for teaching began.  He was able to watch his teacher, Mrs. Natalie Barkely, impart knowledge and wisdom onto students daily. When asked what made you decide to become an Ag teacher, Thomas replied “I was inspired by my teacher, Mrs. Barkley, to pursue teaching so that I could have a positive impact on the next generation of students, and be an advocate for agriculture.”

Thomas is excited and anxious to see what his year of service to our state’s FFA organization has in stake for him.  He has a year’s worth of classroom visits, leadership conferences, and public 
The 2017-2018 Pennsylvania
State Officer Team
speaking engagements yet to come.  I asked Thomas how he thought the skills he is going to gain and sharpen over the next twelve months of being a state officer is going to help him going into Ag Ed, he said I believe I will gain a better understanding of the agriculture industry, learn valuable teaching and facilitation skills, gain confidence, build connections, and gain experience with teaching and interacting with high school students.”
I actually got to spend some time with Thomas and the rest of the new state officer team, recently at the Pennsylvania Association of Agriculture Educators (@PAAE) conference in Philadelphia.  When I got to sit down and talk with him, he voiced why he thinks Ag Ed is so important.  “Agricultural Education is crucial in the fight against world hunger and in the goal of educating the world.  There are many misconceptions across the globe about the agriculture industry and agricultural education classes provides a platform to better educate people about the industry.  These lessons and knowledge can be applied to many different fields, including those dealing with production agriculture and in result, help feed the world.”  He is a very energetic and enthusiastic young man who is devoted to expressing the importance of the agriculture industry.  I think that he is going to make a great teacher some day and indeed with inspire a few students just as he was by his own teacher. 

In his last remarks, I asked Thomas what he would say to someone who was thinking about being an Ag teacher.  He told me “I would tell them that being an Agricultural Educator is one of the most important jobs in the world.   People in this profession have the unique opportunity to advocate for an entire industry and help students find their future careers and passions.  It is, without a doubt, a career path worth pursuing.”  We wish Thomas and the rest of the Pennsylvania FFA State Officers luck on the year ahead and each of their journeys.  Welcome to the PSU Ag Ed family Thomas!
Thomas has officially been
Tagged to Teach Ag! 

Macy Fisher, Student Blogger
Twitter Handle: @macy_fisher
#psuaged18 member
2018 Selinsgrove Student Teacher

Monday, June 26, 2017

Honoring the @TeachAgPSU Legacy: Ed Yoder

Guests gather and listen to the kind
words spoken about Dr. Yoder.
On June 14, 2017 during the PA FFA State Convention, the Penn State Ag Ed (@TeachAgPSU) family gathered to celebrate Dr. Ed Yoder  and recognize him for his dedication and vast contributions to the Agricultural Education field. Dr. Yoder will retire from Penn State as a Professor of Agriculture and Extension Education after having served 49 years in the profession .

Dr. Yoder not only was showered in praises for his work and past stories of inspiration at a retirement party hosted by fellow faculty, but he will forever have a keepsake in the form of a scrapbook that has touching memories and words of adornment from co-workers, past students and industry leaders.

Dr. Radhakrishna speaks about Dr. Yoder's impact on his career.
Secretary Redding speaks about Dr.
Yoder's  contributions to the Commonwealth.
Following the cheerful reception, Dr. Yoder was recognized at the 88th Pennsylvania State FFA Convention.  He received his Honorary FFA Degree which goes to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service and support to agriculture education and the FFA.  This is a prestigious award in our state and only those who have been nominated and approved can receive this honor.  This was not the end of the celebration of just how much Dr. Yoder has influenced and contributed to agriculture education over the years. 

Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding also presented Dr. Yoder with a Citation in recognition of his career. This Citation recognized Dr. Yoder as a distinguished member of not only Penn State but of the agriculture education family.  His career embodied research, education and science committed to meeting the challenges in agriculture education.He has taught hundreds, possibly thousands, of students through his career, one of which being the Secretary Of Agriculture himself, Russell Redding.  As a stadium filled with over 1475 FFA members, advisors and guests watched this great and noble educator receive his award, Russell Redding proclaimed the impacts he has felt from Dr. Yoder.  "As your student, which I consider myself even today, I can only be inspired by the legacy you leave and know that other you have impacted feel the same measure of appreciation for their experiences. 
Powerful photo of Three generations of PSU AEE Majors:
(L) Libby Baker-Mikesell (C) Secretary Russell Redding
(L) Dr. Ed Yoder)

Dr. Yoder was presented this Citation with Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, 1982 Penn State graduate in Ag Ed, on one side and Pennsylvania State FFA President Libby Baker-Mikesell, incoming Penn State freshman in Ag Ed, on the other side.  This was a truly motivating and inspiriting moment of the convention.  We wish Dr. Yoder well in all of his future endeavors and are elated and proud to always have him as part of our PSU Ag Ed Family.  In the words of  Russell Redding, "When I think of Penn State as our land grant and the difference this institution and its people can make in the lives of students, you are perhaps its greatest example." 

Macy Fisher, Student Blogger
Twitter Handle: @macy_fisher
#psuaged18 member
2018 Selinsgrove Student Teacher

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Victoria Herr (@Victoria_Herr) is Living to Serve as National #TeachAg Ambassador!

Victoria Herr, National Teach
Ag Ambassador
A @TeachAGPSU star  has been chosen from nationwide pool of student applicants to serve as a National Teach Ag Ambassador! Our very own Victoria Herr (Victoria_Herr) will be spending the next year as a member of the team of 12 National Teach Ag Ambassadors.

Victoria Herr is a junior at Penn state majoring in Agriculture Education and member of the 2019 Ag Ed cohort (#psuaged19). She served as the 2014-2015 Pennsylvania State FFA (@PA_FFA) Secretary and is very dedicated student who is involved with the Teach Ag! Society, Alpha Tau Alpha and numerous other clubs on campus that are motivated to teach others about the agriculture industry. When asked what drew her to apply to become a Teach Ag Ambassador, Victoria said “One of the main reasons I was drawn to apply is because I love to talk about and advocate for agriculture education. I’m a very talkative and passionate person so when I get to talk about something I love, I always enjoy it! I knew that serving as a National Teach Ag Ambassador would give me lots of opportunities to meet prospective Ag teachers and encourage them on their journeys! I also think it’s always really important to give back; I have always had mentors in Ag Ed and I wanted to do the same for other students!”

Victoria at the Alpha Tau Alpha
inductee ceremony.
A Teach Ag Ambassador, Victoria’s main goal will to be to encourage others to consider a career as an Agriculture Educator. She will do this by sharing her passion and enthusiasm about the industry and profession with others through emails, social media, presentations and other outlets that include the campaign at the National FFA (@NationalFFA) Convention. She will also work with local and state leaders in agriculture education to inspire youth to pursue a major and career in agriculture education. Victoria is most excited about “…the National FFA Convention because I will get to spend the week with the rest of the other National Teach Ag Ambassadors and we will get a lot of time with FFA members! National Convention is always a special time and I’m excited to be spending this upcoming convention in a different role. I have spent several years at National Convention myself as a member and can now spend the week serving the FFA members!”

There is an ongoing shortage of agriculture teachers across the country. There are numerous retirements, new programs opening, current programs expanding and teachers going on to pursue other opportunities every year which lead to this shortage. This is why it is so important for the Teach Ag Ambassadors to promote and help students find their passion to teach! National Teach Ag Campaign Project Director, Ellen Thompson expresses why the ambassadors are imperative to the growth of the profession when she stated,
“As the number of agricultural education programs continues to grow, we need more quality and diverse agriculture teachers to fill the roles. The ambassador program gives us an opportunity to deliver the Teach Ag message to a bigger audience, while investing in the next generation of agriculture teachers.”
Ellen Thompson (@ellencthompson),
National Teach 
Ag Campaign Project Director
As mentioned earlier, Victoria will be spending her year of service with eleven other college students hailing from various institutes across the nations ranging from Oregon State University all the way to Florida A&M University. Each of these new Ambassadors are just as passionate about the Agriculture Industry and Agriculture Education as Victoria is. When asked why it is important to serve as an Ambassador, Victoria said:

I think it is important for students in our major to consider serving in a position such as National Teach Ag Ambassador because it allows them to gain a lot of experience as well as give back. Opportunities like this give student lots of public speaking experience, facilitating and planning experience, and allows them to make lots of connections. And as I mentioned before, I think it’s really important to give back. When we think about it, most of us have been influenced by past teachers and students, so now it’s our turn to do that. I hope that through my role as an Ambassador, I am able to encourage my peers to take on similar positions!”

Victoria (#psuaged19) along with George Dietrich (@TheGeorge4H), left (#psuaged18),
represented @TeachAgPSU in the 2017 Penn State Homecoming Parade!

Macy Fisher, Student Blogger
Twitter Handle: @macy_fisher
#psuaged18 member
2018 Selinsgrove Student Teacher

Monday, June 19, 2017

Evelyn Zaleski (@CuteEvyAnn) HIRED!! #psuaged17 member hired at Davey Tree (@DaveyTree) in Virginia!

Evelyn Zaleski #psuaged17

Zaleski in the McGuffey greenhouse.

2017 Penn State Graduate, Evelyn Zaleski (@CuteEvyAnn) is quickly putting her Agriculture and Extension Education degree to work as she was recently hired at the Davey Tree Expert Company (@DaveyTree) in Gainesville, Virginia. Her official job title is the Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Coordinator where she will get to travel throughout her region consisting of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia preforming her duties. Some of her duties require her to create and teach lesson plans at schools as part of her recruiting tactics; this is where her degree and classroom experience come in perfect!

Evelyn teaching Ag students.
As mentioned, Evelyn is a 2017 graduate of Penn State where she was an active member of the Teach Ag! Society, Collegiate FFA and Students for Cultivating Change. She also served as the President of the Penn State Grange. She completed her student teaching experience in Washington County, Pennsylvania at McGuffey High School under the guidance of her cooperating teachers Renee Cambruzzi (@cambruzzir) and John Leasure. While teaching an array of classes ranging from Greenhouse Management, Floral and Landscape Design, both Introduction and Advanced Mechanics, and several others she has gained unique experiences and made lasting memories. Some of the interesting things she was able to do during her experience was harvest honey from the bee hives the FFA cares for, host a Career Development Event, and attended a local 4-H meeting to interact with the community. 

When asked what her favorite memory of student teaching was, Evelyn said “I don’t have one specific favorite memory, but I definitely loved having my students dissect plants to learn the parts of a flower because they were so interested and excited to learn. I also was amazed when the students had a benefit dinner for another Ag teacher who was really sick. The kids and community came together to put on such a great event and were able to raise over $13,000.00 in just 6 hours! I also had such fun with my students, especially when they decided to try and do the mannequin challenge!” 
McGuffey student working on a
floriculture project.

Evelyn is originally from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania so her new job will definitely take her from her hometown but she is excited to see new places and meet new people. While working at Davey Tree Expert Company, she will be meeting with managers from all over her region and getting to know the members of each crew. She will also be responsible for finding candidates for jobs and be in charge of their hiring process. While recruiting people to work for Davey, she will be traveling to career fairs, schools, and meeting people in the forestry industry to teach them of Davey Tree Experts and the career possibilities available. Evelyn has already been working for three weeks and says “I really enjoy meeting all these new and interesting people, the employees who are climbing trees are my favorite though.” This is probably because while attending Penn State, she was able to take a class on tree climbing and she ended up loving every day of that class. She also was drawn to this job because it is such a unique position where she is able to interact with all different types of people and it is an employee owned company which means she can use part of her salary to purchase stock and own part of the company; this is a great opportunity for a young college graduate! Davey Tree Expert is also very environmentally conscious. They have flooring that is made of all recycled materials, use natural lighting in the building, and all the water is filtered and recycled. 

Zaleski & Cambruzzi teaching a
 flower arranging class.

“My job is really cool! We are allowed to bring our dogs to work which makes for a great work atmosphere. We also have a green roof where we can eat lunch and we have walking trails behind the building that we are encouraged to use when we need a break from daily tasks! Between traveling to different crews and the other aspects of my job, I have only had to work in my office two times so far of my three weeks here!”

As Evelyn goes forth from Penn State, she would like to leave this advice for students looking to pursue a degree in Agriculture Education, “First of all dive in! Close your eyes and immerse yourself into whatever you are doing. And once you have worked hard and reached the finish line, take a moment to realize what an accomplishment you have made! This is a major where you never stop improving and learning, ever after you graduate! I may not currently be an agriculture teacher but I am still part of the PSU Ag Ed family and that is something that you can easily an honor that you carry with you for the rest of your life!”

Macy Fisher, Student Blogger
Twitter Handle: @macy_fisher
#psuaged18 member
2018 Selinsgrove Student Teacher

Monday, June 12, 2017

Core Values of @TeachAgPSU

Our inspirational task is diligently focus on cultivating, inspiring, coaching, developing and mentoring generations of IMPACTFUL agriscience teachers.

At a recent @TeachAGPSU Purpose Session when exploring our "WHY" [See Video Below], our agricultural teacher education faculty (Dr. John Ewing, @jce122; Dr. Kevin Curry, @KevinWCurry; Dr. Laura Rice, @LauraSankeyRice; and Dr. Daniel Foster, @FosterDanielD) articulated the Vision, Mission and top 10 core values of the @TeachAgPSU Agricultural Teacher Preparation Program. 


With a team effort (like our great students who share the @TeachAgPSU Family Creed here), we are confident that we be a part of the solution for schools and communities across the world.


To develop digitally-literate, globally minded 21st century positive agents of change for agricultural education.


@TeachAgPSU develops agriscience teachers who are prepared to teach where learners are in need. 

Core Values of the
PSU Agriscience Teacher Preparation Program

The Penn State Agriscience Teacher Education Program cultivates and values agriscience teachers who are:

I. Philosophically sound in career technical education principles and the three component model of agricultural education including applied STEM classroom instruction, work-based learning (Supervised Agricultural Experience), and the leadership laboratory of youth organizations (FFA) 

II. Inclusive of ALL students and value diversity in their classrooms. 

III. Skilled in technical agricultural science content knowledge.

IV. Prepared to utilize effective pedagogical methods to successfully plan, implement, and assess agriscience instruction to impact student learning.

V. Reflective practitioners devoted to lifelong learning.

VI. Servant-leaders in the classroom, school, and community.

VII. Committed to the engagement of external stakeholders in a purposeful, systematic process for enhanced student, school, and community success.

VIII. Committed, life-long members of a professional learning community prepared to integrate cross-curricular learning opportunities.

IX. Dedicated to academic proficiency while prioritizing the scholastic growth of all students.

X. Digitally-literate, connected educators who are progressive in adopting appropriate technologies to advance professional growth and student learning.

We welcome your comments and thoughts on our reflective process! Thank you for sharing.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

@TeachAgPSU Family Helping College of Agricultural Sciences be Inclusive

Dr. MeeCee Baker,
Versant Strategies
A newly started club at Penn State University, Students for Cultivating Change, received a gracious gift last week from an alumna member. MeeCee Baker graduated from Penn State in 1982 (#psuaged82) with a bachelor’s in Agriculture and Extension Education and later earned her doctorate in Agriculture Education also from Penn State. Baker has served as the first woman president of the National Association of Agriculture Educators (, was a faculty member at Penn State and North Carolina State, and worked at Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. She is now the owner of Versant Strategies ( which is a firm that works with agriculture, environmental and rural issues where Caleb Wright  (@TheWrightCaleb; #psuaged14) serves as chief operating officer.

Caleb Wright, COO
Versant Strategies
Wright is also Penn State graduate who earned his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Extension Education in 2014. This gift to the college is a tribute to Caleb. In Baker’s words ‘I wanted to honor him, and since he's an active participant in the national Cultivating Change organization, I thought the support of Penn State's affiliated club would be appreciated."

Baker’s gift consists of a $20,000 endowment for students who are enrolled in the College of Agricultural Sciences and demonstrate advocacy for the LGBTQA community by being an active member of the Students for Cultivating Change club. She also is pledging $1,000 a year for the next five years to support the award, Baker Students for Cultivating Change Award.

Members of Penn State Student's Cultivating Change Club
In her words "It's especially important to me to support students and education, and I encourage others to do the same, no matter what amount.” She is a true advocate for student success as she stated, "I hope this gift lifts up Students for Cultivating Change and lets them know there are alumni and others who recognize they are a vital part of the agricultural industry and revel in their successes." The college is honored and thankful of Dr. Baker’s gift and admires her for advocacy of student inclusion, respect and acceptance in agriculture!

To read more about Baker, Wright and the gift to the college, read the article at the following link

Thank you MeeCee and Caleb for investing in the future of Penn State's Cultivating Change student organization! Alumni like you are what make our University so great!

Macy Fisher, Student Blogger
Twitter Handle: @macy_fisher
#psuaged18 Cohort Member

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Guest Blog: 5th Annual Domestic Study Away Day Six: "Seeking through Service"

Editor's Note:What is a Domestic Study Away? A Domestic Study Away (DSA) is a non-credit experience that is 100% Student-Developed and Student-led. The Penn State Teach Ag! Society runs where a group of students travel to a State to explore the following:

1. What does #AgEdu look like in other states? How is the total model of school-based agricultural education (Classroom Instruction, Youth Leadership Development <FFA> and Work-based learning <SAE>) uniquely provided?

2. Who are the #AgEdu Stakeholders in the state? Specifically, what agricultural industry is being served?

3. A unique yearly selected professional development topic! For #psuaged2WI, it is "Gender in the Agriculture Industry, Agricultural Classroom and Agricultural Education Profession.

You can virtually-engage with this experience by reading and commenting on the daily blogs and following the experience on Twitter and Facebook with our hashtag #PSUAgEd2WI. We could not complete this transformative learning experience with out the incredible support of our partners including: The Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators, The Wisconsin Team Ag Ed, The Penn State Center for Professional and Personnel Development and the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Student Activities Fund.

This is a series of blogs capturing reflections from each day of the experience by one of the participants. Below is the sixth day reflections of Macy Fisher (@macy_fisher), a member of the #psuaged18 cohort. Macy will be completing her student teaching internship with Ms. Valerie Fry of the Selinsgrove Agriscience Program in Selinsgrove, Pa. The reflection focus is the sixth official day of DSA visiting LaClare Dairy Goat Farm, Bonlander Furs Mink Ranch, an afternoon full of service learning projects and finishing the night at a Wisconsin Supper Club.

Clara Hedrich, retired from #AgEdu after 39 years and
owner of LaClara Farm

On Saturday May 13th, we began our daily adventures at LaClare Dairy Goat Farm which is owned by Larry and Clara Hedrich and four of their children. The farm began in 1978 when they purchased 22 acres to start a small dairy goat herd for their children to show through 4-H. After Larry working in construction and Clara teaching Agriculture Education for 39 years, they decided to stay home and expand their operation. In 1996, they decided to purchase milking machines and in the following years kept adding more and more to their farm. In 2008 was when their very first batch of cheese was created named Evalon. This cheese won LaClare Farms their very first award as the United State Champion Cheese, raising above all other dairy and goat cheese to take the title. Each of their children were given the same opportunity to return to the farm however they had to first receive a college education and then work for someone else for 2 years before they could return home. This is when they had their son, Greg, and three of their daughters, Anna, Jessica, and Kate, all realized that they wanted to come back home and make their farm flourish. In 2012, ground was broke at their current location where they have the milk facility, retail store, and all the equipment to produced their cheeses as well as the holding barn for their milking herd of 900 goats. The head consists of 4 different breeds of goats: Nubians, Alpines, Saanen, Toggenburg. For every 1 cow that a dairy farm milks, it takes 10 dairy goats to milk the equivalency. Before heading to our next destination, Clara left us with some things to reflect on. “Work smart and always be on the cutting edge that way you are known for something but don’t try to come in on your first day of teaching a try to save the world, ease your way into the back door. Ag teachers are unique, we get to do what we teach, how many English teachers have published a book?”


As we thought about what Clara had told us, we traveled not far down the road to the Bonlander Furs Mink Ranch. This is a family ran mink ranch that started in 1978. They originally had a chicken operation, however the mink farms in the surrounding areas would have an occasional mink get loose which would travel to the chicken farm in search of food. After catching several of the these wandering minks and talking to other local mink ranchers, the Bonlander’s decided to try their hand at raising minks. This made them the 5th mink farm in an 8 mile radius.

The farm currently has 850 females all of which have just had babies. Minks can have anywhere between 3 and 14 babies! Each mink is kept in its own separate cage with a nesting box for their babies. Babies are born with no hair and are about the size of a pinkie finger; they quickly grow to be chubby, furry babies who can be separated from their mothers after 6 to 8 weeks. The most valuable pelts will be found on minks that are are up to 2 years in age. The pelts are sold on average for $40/pelt at an auction in Canada where most are bought by China to be made into mink coats, jackets, hat and other various clothing. It takes on average 50 male pelts or 90 female pelts just to make one jacket that will be sold for $10,000.00! Minks are also so used for musk and colognes and also water proof oil used on boots and leather. All of us were amazed by this unique industry and learned that Wisconsin is the number one producer of mink in the United States!

In the afternoon, we headed to the local church to start our Service Learning Activities. We started by learning about the Holyland Food Pantry. The church used the empty parsonage building and set up the pantry like a store. Local businesses donated shelving, refrigerators, and freezers as well as many food products. There are also several donation locations where community members can drop off any food that can be used at the pantry. Donations can also be given through the mail carrier. Every house is given a bag that can be filled and then hung on the mailbox which is then brought to the pantry. Local farmers also give ground beef, milk, eggs and butter that families can take. Anyone is welcome to come each month to the “shopping day” where families are given a number and are called one at a time to shop individually. The pantry is always in need of donations, especially bottled water and will always accept a helping hand to volunteer.

We also learned about the Pens for Hens project which was started as by the local FFA members. They used the idea for the National Ag Sales contest where chicken pens would be build in Haiti using the metal and wood scraps that are readily available in the small towns and villages. The idea flourished and now local chapters build their own pens and auction them off. The proceeds are then sent to Haiti for villages to continue to construct pens. 
We also learned from a town carpenter about how to construct a lending library. He taught us the tricks and tips of how to construct these small boxes that serve as a library. The kids in the community can come and take a book to read and return it or any other book back to the library.

The interesting service learning project was the final one of the day where we were helping to restore the cemetery. Some of us were using Ammonia and soapy water to clean old head stones that you could not longer read, while others were helping to unearth fallen headstones that were buried in inches of soil. The stones were the placed in a bed of pebbles and cleaned. Many of us were inspired by this project and knew that we wanted to do the same process at cemeteries back home.

We ended our day by going to a Wisconsin Famous Supper Club. None of us had ever experienced a Supper Club before and were not sure what to expect. This is a long time tradition in Wisconsin and we had to go to one before we left! The Supper Club we attended was Jim and Linda’s Lakeview Supper Club which sits right on the edge of Lake Winnebago. We were able to mingle and converse with many of the people we had met during our week thus far including our superstar hosts who planned our week and connected us with each stop of our DSA trip. After enjoying our meals, some of our group decided to climb the tower that sits outside the Supper Club. From the top, you have an amazing view out over the lake. As the evening came to an end, our group decided to sit and watch the sunset on the lake. We had a time to just sit, think and reflect on how far we had come in the short week. It was a peaceful and relaxing way to end the day.

Day 6 gave us a new outlook on what our students and programs can do for our communities and how to serve others. I stand by the saying of many hand make little work, and today as instilled that in each of us. We all are refreshed and full of bright new ideas of how as an Agriculture Educator we can help our students to become helping hands in the world. We would like to thank everyone who mad our day successful and are grateful of the stories and advice shared with us though out the day!

Macy Fisher
@macy _ fisher

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Guest Blog: 5th Annual Domestic Study Away Day Eight: " Success from State to State"

Editor's Note: What is a Domestic Study Away? A Domestic Study Away (DSA) is a non-credit experience that is 100% Student-Developed and Student-led. The Penn State Teach Ag! Society runs where a group of students travel to a State to explore the following:
  1. What does #AgEdu look like in other states? How is the total model of school-based agricultural education (Classroom Instruction, Youth Leadership Development <FFA> and Work-based learning <SAE>) uniquely provided? 
  2. Who are the #AgEdu Stakeholders in the state? Specifically, what agricultural industry is being served? 
  3. A unique yearly selected professional development topic! For #psuaged2WI, it is "Gender in the Agriculture Industry, Agricultural Classroom and Agricultural Education Profession. 
You can virtually-engage with this experience by reading and commenting on the daily blogs and following the experience on Twitter and Facebook with our hashtag #PSUAgEd2WI. We could not complete this transformative learning experience with out the incredible support of our partners including: The Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators, The Wisconsin Team Ag Ed, The Penn State Center for Professional and Personnel Development and the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Student Activities Fund.

Below is a reflection by George Dietrich (@TheGeorge4H), a member of the #psuaged18 cohort. George is a dual major in Agricultural and Extension Education and Food Science at Penn State, and he will be completing his student teaching internship with Ms. Darla Romberger (@DJR_131) of the Cumberland Valley Agriscience Program (@CV_Agrisciences) in Mechanicsburg, PA. The reflection focus is the eighth and final official day of the Domestic Study Away.

Our morning started bright and early in the state of Wisconsin where we loaded the van and headed to visit Big Foot High School in Walworth, Wisconsin. Here we had a chance to visit with #PSUAgEd14 Alumni Jeanne Case (@J_Case) and the rest of Big Foot's Agricultural Education team! Immediately we paired up with students in her class, went out to the green house, and learned about their current lab. Each student was able to choose what and how they would conduct their research project, as long as it met certain criteria. Talk about student ownership!

We also had the chance to talk with Ms. Case and Ms. Konke about their experiences teaching. The Big Foot Agriscience program is very strong and teaches students a variety of technical science skills along with critical thinking skills that comes from inquiry based learning. It was impressive that these students were already gaining experience with micropipettes and electrophoresis units. Non traditional SAE projects were also prevalent at Big Foot. In fact, one student was researching a way to bind certain proteins in peanuts so people with peanut allergies can eat them!

After saying goodbye to Jeanne at Big Foot High School, we headed on down the road to Pontiac Township High School in Illinois to visit Mr. Parker Bane (@ParkerBane) and Mr. Jesse Faber (@therealjfaber). We had a very productive discussion on plans after high school with his senior landscaping class, and then led some fun leadership activities with his Intro to Ag class. The entire school was having an assembly that day, so we got to go and watch student be recognized for all of their had work and accomplishments. It was really nice to see, wouldn't it be great if all schools took the time to thank their students?

Following the assembly and a tasty ice cream treat, we had the chance to talk to Parker and Jesse about the joys and struggles of being a multi teacher program. We discussed a plethora of topics and it was really nice to have an open, honest conversation. To be a good teacher, it's all about the relationships you build with your students (can someone say van ride memories?).

Jesse took us out to Mackinson Dairy Farm to meet with his wife, Mary. Mary is a Controller of a local cooperative and also manages her family farm's social media presence. We learned about how important it is to maintain a professional presence as an agricultural advocate on social media. Mary did a great job connecting her knowledge of social media back to how we can implement and manage a social media presence for an Agricultural Education program!