Thursday, May 18, 2017

Guest Blog: 5th Annual Domestic Study Away Day 5: "Community is Key to Success"

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 the fifth day reflection of Michala Kuhlman (@kuhlman_m40), a member of the #psuaged18 Agricultural and Extension Education cohort.  Michala will be completing her student teaching internship with Mr. Curt Turner of the Central Columbia Agriscience Program in Bloomsburg, PA. The reflection focus is on the fifth official day of DSA at the School for Agriculture and Environmental Studies (SAGES), Randolph High School (RCFFA), Jung Seed Company, and visited Bluestem Bison Farm.

First Grade SAGES students showing us
their chicken project.
We began the day with a refreshing look at agricultural education in the view of an elementary school student. The School for Agriculture and Environmental Studies (SAGES) is located in Fox Lake, Wisconsin and is a public elementary charter school. Students from the first, second, and sixth grade each spent some time with us sharing some of their proudest accomplishments from the past school year. First grade students participated in a chicken project where they received a grant to fund the development of a chicken coop. Students kept journals on what they learned each day about the chickens including: the anatomy of an egg, various breeds of chickens, as well as how to properly care for their chickens. Second grade brought geometry to the agricultural classroom as they mapped out barn quilts. Each student created their own design for a barn quilt, the student body as a whole voted on the winning quilt square, to be auctioned off at the school fundraiser. The sixth grade completed the plastic bag challenge, collecting a total of 1,556 pounds of plastic films. Mrs. Sheri Hicken said it best, "little kids can do big things." Check out what other great things SAGES elementary charter school is doing!

Students in the Randolph Cambria- Friesland
agricultural program have access to a land lab
that was donated to the program. 
Next we headed to the infamous Randolph Cambria Friesland FFA Chapter (@RCFFA). Keith Gundlach, better known as Sir has been teaching at the Randolph High School since 1977. He has taught numerous family generations throughout those 40 years. The agriculture program is comprised of students from both Randolph and Friesland High Schools. Since 1992 the chapter has over 200 American Degree recipients, of those 9 were American Star Finalists, as well as over 60 National Proficiency Finalists. Currently the program is investigating genetics in rat populations to isolate the hairless gene. In combination with SAE grants students are developing ways to give back to the community using the programs land lab. 

We have heard numerous times throughout the trip that an FFA chapter will not survive without the support of the local community, Randolph Cambria Friesland FFA looks to Jung Seed as a supporter of their program. Jung Seed is rich in family heritage, starting in 1907 John William "JW" Jung started printing seed catalogs with a small hand press, laying the foundation for the company today. The company has grown to distribute eight different seed catalogs, totaling over 8 million catalogs a year, as well as open multiple Jung Garden Centers. The company employs many FFA members and will soon be selling an FFA members metal art work in the garden centers.

The buffalo herd is on rational grazing.
Here you see them in one of their pastures
with some of the new born calves.  
The Bluestem Bison Farm located in Mt. Calvary, WI, hosted us for dinner. Patrick and Rebecca Reiss have been raising bison for meat production for 13 years. Their herd has grown to about 75 head of grass fed bison. We had the opportunity to take a ride out to visit the herd. We learned that bison farming is hands off and many of the operating procedures are done naturally. All breeding is done naturally using the herd bull "Steve." We also learned that sheep are detrimental to Bison herd's as they are carries of a disease that can wipe out an entire Bison herd. We ended the night enjoying bison burgers and good fellowship.

Day 5 gave us new perspectives on our individual teaching philosophy's , and how to utilize the local community. The community is vital to having a successful agricultural education program. We are thankful to everyone who made our day so successful. We are immensely grateful for all the advice we received throughout the day. 


                                                                                                                 Michala Kuhlman

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