Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dr. Edgar Yoder's PSU Legacy

After 39 years as faculty at Penn State, Dr. Edgar Yoder is retiring as a Professor of Agricultural and Extension Education.  Previously, Dr. Yoder had served 10 years as a high school agriculture teacher and principal in Ohio and Virginia. Without a doubt, he is leaving behind a legacy of success in the classroom and research outside of class at Penn State University. His 39 years at Penn State, "Went by really fast with lots of changes," he said. 

When Dr. Yoder was completing his agriculture student teaching internship, he was asked by his supervising teacher to write a two page letter to the school district superintendent stating why he wanted to be an agriculture teacher and why agricultural education was important in a high school curriculum. After the end of the first week his supervising teacher and the superintendent met and discussed philosophy of education and the role of agricultural education in public education. Dr. Yoder's philosophy on agricultural education: 

1.      Agricultural educators, in fact educators in general, have two primary goals.
a.     First, as educators we assist learners in preparing for life to earn a living, contributing to society by assuming civic and social responsibilities and contributing to the improvement of the communities in which they live.
b.     Second as educators we facilitate the development of learners’ abilities for thinking critically and addressing a broad range of social, economic, cultural and professional related issues impacted by the agricultural sector.

2.     To address those two goals as an agricultural educator I have a responsibility to provide learners with realistic and authentic learning situations.  This provides learners with opportunities to develop their skills, abilities and apply their knowledge within the social context environment of the community in which they live and work.  This means learning is much more than taking a test or passing an exam.  Learning is for real life!

3.     Teaching and learning is a democratic process in which the teacher and learner are active participants.  The agricultural educator facilitates an active learning process.  The learner is not a passive receptacle but is an engaged participant in the process.  As a teacher I learn from the students.  It is impossible for the agricultural educator to have all the answers.  As an agricultural educator you desire to have students develop the capacity to become lifelong learners and knowledgeable about resources to access to help address issues important to them.

4.      As an agricultural educator I have a unique opportunity to be a change agent in the lives of learners.  Dr. Lenkiatis reminded me in our conversation that each student was important, and that as the ag student teacher I was expected to be flexible, within reason, for providing a variety of learning activities so that students with a variety of abilities could find success in their learning.

5.     Agricultural education is a unique, community based program for youth development.  Mr. Weir knew that I had been very competitive in sports, FFA and 4-H.  His words were “It is the youngster inside the FFA jacket that should be the focus.  You will be remembered in the long run for how you helped that youngster using the resources available through ag education (vocational agriculture back then).  You will not be remembered in the long run for how many judging contests were won, how many times the FFA chapter was a top ten state chapter, how many state FFA recipients, etc.”

6.     Appreciate your successes and learn from your mistakes and criticisms. 

Left-Right; Ed Yoder, Russel Reading, Jim Diamond,
Ellen Duckworth, MeeCee Baker
Infront; Richard Grubb
Dr. Yoder has integrated his philosophy into the classroom by focusing on the person instead of the FFA jacket. He has borrowed strategies from other teachers that have modeled effective teaching as well. A piece of wisdom he shared was: 

"You have to be yourself in an ever changing environment. That means some of your values and beliefs are going to be challenged as educational reforms and changes are constantly proposed. In my personal view, I believe with all the educational reform efforts and proposed changes, the core components of school based Agricultural Education programs provide the foundation for making all education relevant and truly reform education." 

He suggests a few ideas of how to deal with change based on the book Who Moved My Cheese, 

  • Change Happens--They Keep Moving the Cheese
  • Anticipate Change--Be Ready For the Cheese To Move
  • Monitor Change--Smell the Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
  • Adapt To Change Quickly--The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, the Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
  • Change--Move with the Cheese
  • Enjoy Change!--Savor the Adventure and Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
  • Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again--They Keep Moving the Cheese.

Dr. Yoder's career choice was inspired by his high school agriculture teacher Mr. Ken Smith.  Mr. Smith convinced Dr. Yoder to not limit his career options because of his Amish heritage and limited resources. Mr. Smith was a guide, role model, coach, mentor, counselor, and friend to Dr. Yoder. Mr. Smith was being an agriculture teacher, and doing what they do best. He credits agricultural education, through significant role models for motivating him to become a teacher of teachers. His passion for agriculture started when he was young as his family was always involved within the agriculture sector. He realized through an experience organizing a field trip to a dairy farm for a urban school group that far too many people really do not understand the importance of agriculture in their lives. After the field trip the students refused to drink the milk in the cafeteria because it came from dirty cows. 

In his opinion the most important aspect about agricultural education is its uniqueness, and it should be a model for all education. When he was a principal he often would refer back to the basic aspects of agriculture education to resolve issues. Dr. Yoder would visit student's homes, on farms, and businesses as an agriculture teacher and as principal because it helped him understand what the student was experiencing outside of school. Agriculture education made an impact on his life as a teacher of the program using the resources available. The students had impacted his understanding and appreciation for the influence of cultural and economic factors in daily life decisions. He has learned that students reinforce how interdependent we are and how much further we have to go. Learning is a life long endeavor. His favorite part of being an agricultural educator is the people and the relationships and opportunities to work with others that have a commitment to education and agriculture collectively working to enhance the lives of others. Learning to do, Doing to learn, Earning to live, Living to serve.

Over the past 39 years Dr. Yoder has made a lot of great memories with the people (students, faculty, staff, parents, etc.) and activities/events. He doesn't view leaving as taking anything away besides maybe two paper clips, but rather he sees it as making a positive contribution to making Penn State a better education institution. He hopes that he contributed to students having  positive experience as they completed their education at Penn State. We are KNOW you have Dr. Yoder. Thank you for your 39 years of wisdom and inspiration! 

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.

Luke Kerstetter 

Student Blogger 

Twitter Handle: @lmkerstetter96

2020 Agricultural Education Student Teacher

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dr. John Ewing receives College of Agricultural Science "Advisor of the Year" Award: @jce122 @agsciences

Dr. Ewing receiving his award from Chris Toevs,
President, Ag Student Council.
Each year the College of Agricultural Science gives out awards to the different organizations represented within the College of Agriculture. This year the recipient of the "Advisor of the Year" was our very own, Dr. John Ewing. He is the advisor of the Collegiate FFA Chapter at Penn State, and has been for the past seven years. Dr. Ewing has shown his passion for the FFA and all his students through his dedication and commitment to the organization as he goes above and beyond what he is required to do according to the university.

A Short Story from the CFFA
Dr. Ewing makes a point to be present at all CFFA meetings and events that we hold. Many times, this means staying late into the evening and coming in on the weekend. One event that really stands out is when we were preparing for our annual Valentine’s Day rose sale. We had over 500 roses come in that needed to be cut, de-prickled, and prepped for sale the next day. There were four students that began working on the roses after class, but they were still working come 9:00 that night. Dr. Ewing was away on a student teacher visit at the time, and did not get back to campus until 7:00PM. Once he got back, he had another meeting that he had to attend. Dr. Ewing had left home at 6:00 that morning, hadn’t seen his wife or three children all day, and yet still came to help finish the roses. He stayed until we were finished, refusing to leave until the last student left. This level of commitment and dedication to the organization is seen every day in all of the activities and events that we do as an organization.

Dr. Ewing's Attitude and Selflessness
Dr. Ewing poses with students from Collegiate FFA at the 2017 Ag Ball.
He is always present at the club's activities as well as engaging, enthusiastic, and passionate toward them and the goals of the organization. His positive attitude and enthusiasm for agriculture is contagious and inspiring as he is always encouraging students to actively participate in community service, professional development, and student outreach events. Dr. Ewing is looked up to by the CFFA members and is constantly asked for his advice regarding academic decisions and life choices. No matter the time, location, or what is going on at the moment, he takes the time to speak honestly to each student and work out the best option. He does not care if you are not one of his academic advisee students or not, he will go out of his way to help each and every student asking for help. Dr Ewing's selflessness toward the students shows how great of an advisor he truly is to them.

Congratulations Dr. John Ewing on being named the "Advisor of the Year" by the College of Agricultural Science! You have definitely earned it!

 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.

Luke Kerstetter

Student Blogger

Twitter Handle: @lmkerstetter96

2020 Agricultural Education Student Teacher

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April Student of the Month: Luke Kerstetter @lmkerstetter96

Every month, we like to highlight students that have gone above and beyond in the Agriculture Education department! We are excited to announce that Luke Kerstetter was selected as the April Student of the Month! Lets learn about his story and accomplishments so far.

Luke is currently a freshman at Penn State Altoona majoring in Agricultural and Extension Education planning to double minor in Horticulture and Forest Ecology. He plans to graduate in the spring of 2020. Luke's experience in the FFA, and the encouragement of his high school agricultural educators helped him find his passion to Teach Ag. After serving as a Pennsylvania State FFA Officer in 2015-2016 he realized that becoming an agricultural educator is what he aspired to do. 

Luke stated, "Seeing students have those 'ah-ha' moments during chapter visits made me understand how much I love teaching students." Luke keeps himself motivated towards his major by continuing to help out the Pennsylvania FFA in facilitating workshops, and finding ways to help students on the Penn State Altoona campus. "I have found a career that is not beneficial for just myself, but also directly influences young individuals that need a positive role model," he had said. His main goal after college is to become an agricultural educator hopefully in the state of Pennsylvania to encourage those students who are not sure what they want to do in the future.  Luke also wants to inspire students to become young leaders that will influence the future of agriculture not only in the United States but rather the world. 

Luke is also busy outside of the classroom being involved with Penn State Altoona's Ag Club/CFFA as well as being the PSU Teach Ag student blogger.

Interesting fun facts about Luke:
Hometown: Mount Pleasant Mills, PA
Favorite PSU Class: Biology 220W
Birthday: December 17, 1996
Favorite Place to Hang out on campus: Devorris Downtown Center

Congratulations, Luke! We are ecstatic to see where your agricultural education journey will take you!

To learn more about Luke Kerstetter follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook  @lmkerstetter96 for both Twitter and Instagram.

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.

Luke Kerstetter

Student Blogger

Twitter Handle: @lmkerstetter96

2020 Agricultural Education Student Teacher