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!

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