Thursday, May 11, 2017

Guest Blog: 5th Annual Domestic Study Away: Day Two- "Student Ownership"

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.

Kind greetings as we entered the
 Holmen FFA laboratory. 
This is a series of blogs capturing reflections from each day of the experience by one of the participants. The goal is to post the daily reflection 24 hours after completion of activity. Below is the second day reflection of Angela Becker (@BeckerAngelaM), a member of the #psuaged18 cohort with a minor in Animal Science. Angela will be completing her student teaching internship with Ms. Deb Seibert of the Manheim Central Agriscience Program (@ManheimFFA) in Manheim, PA. The reflection focus is the second official day of DSA in Holmen, Wisconsin at Holmen High School and The University of Wisconsin at River Falls.

On Tuesday, May 9th I had the opportunity alongside the Penn State Teach Ag! Society to visit Holmen High School in Holmen, Wisconsin. This was our second high school visit of the trip and was a very different experience when compared to East Technical High School in Cleveland from the the day before. Holmen High has a student population of 1,200 with 280 enrolled in agricultural courses. Mr. Roger King, a graduate of The University of Wisconsin at River Falls, is their dedicated Ag teacher and has taught there as a single teacher for 33 years!

Mr. King was the 2016 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year (not Ag Teacher of the Year, but TEACHER of the year, the only state-wide teacher of the year in 2016 with an agriculture focus). Through our interactions with him, we witnessed his humble nature. On the day of our visit, the “Food for America: Elementary Farm Event” was taking place. For this event his students hosted 4th graders at 3 locations where the FFA members would present about livestock, dairy, or horses.
FFA members teach 4th grade students about
chickens during the Food for America event. 
Mr. King assisted in the preparation minimally. As a veteran teacher, he holds a great deal of credibility with the community and at this point in his career, does not even have to ask community members for help. We saw that his students had taken full responsibility for the event and successfully taught small lessons throughout the day to their young peers. Hopefully, some of these youngsters will find value in entering agriculture education when they reach the high school level.

Mr. King diligently hanging his
 PSU Teach Ag! pennant.

In Mr. King’s classes he utilizes hands on learning where students “Learn by Doing.” Every task or activity was organized and pushed the students to learn applicable skills, which would help them in many different ways outside of the classroom. They learned physics when tasked with building a fishing pole and a turkey call in class. Inquiry was also a focus here as asking critical questions and student-directed problem solving takes place on the daily. He hopes that in his classes, each student will be able to individualize their interests and discover their niche. As we wrapped up our tour with Mr. King at Holmen, he hung a Penn State Teach Ag! pennant on his wall! We jumped back in the big white van and followed him to his Alma Mater at River Falls.

Macy snapping a quick
picture of the Jersey calf.
The drive to University of Wisconsin at River Falls was beautiful and the campus did not disappoint. Some the of the students majoring in Agricultural Education were poised and ready to show us around their school and tell us about life in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences affectionately known as CAFES. Our tour was filled with fun tidbits of information about their school and we even got to see some dairy calves (our Jersey lover of the group was elated, @macy_fisher).

Recent statistics about WI gender in #AgEd 

After our tour we were lucky to have a potluck dinner with UWRF Ag Ed majors where we swapped stories about academic life at our universities and shared some jokes. Dr. Tim Buttles provided a formal information session where we learned about some Wisconsin Ag Ed statistics (my personal favorites shown above). We were glad to gather some gender specific statistics that tie directly to the theme of our trip, “Gender in Agriculture, in the Secondary Agriculture Classroom and in the Agricultural Education Profession.”

#AgEd majors from Penn State and University of Wisconsin River Falls.
Join us as we reflect tomorrow after our visit with Ms. Rachel Sauvola at New Richmond High School. We hope that you follow along with us on the rest of our #PSUAgEd2WI journey!

Check out our Day two video created by Allyson Balmer (@allyson_balmer). Allyson will be student teaching during the Spring 2018 semester with Ms. Gretchen Dingman at Tri-Valley High School in Hegans, Pennsylvania.

To read more about our #psuaged2WI adventures, see:

Angela Becker


  1. Meeting lots of great agricultural educators. River Falls is a wonderful campus and great people. So glad you are experiencing all of this.

  2. What a great opportunity to build that professional network! You never know where/when those connections will pay off.