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