Sunday, October 26, 2014

Year 2---Go With the Flow!

As I look back to the first few weeks of my first year of teaching (last year), I wish I would have learned to "go with the flow" and enjoy things as they happened. I was much too worried about having my classroom being perfect, having all papers graded the minute they were turned in, coming in early to set-up all of my labs for the upcoming day, and having everything planned to a "T." I kept up with this idea of "perfection and planning" until about National Convention. After that point, I realized that I couldn't control every minute of every day and learned the art of flexible planning. Well, here I find myself the week of the 87th National FFA Convention looking back at the past 9 weeks and asking, "Where on earth did the 1st marking period go?" I looked back at my calendar and some of the photos taken over the past weeks and realized that all 3 components of our Agriculture Program have been exceptionally busy, but rewarding at the same time.  Here's to recapping the past 9 weeks by the numbers.

Classroom Instruction

This year I am teaching 6 courses (Introduction to Agriculture, Animal Science, Food Science, Growing our Agriculture Leaders, Independent Study (SAE), and Animal & Plant Biotechnology). Introduction to Ag has been exploring the history of food production and is currently finishing up a unit on communication and FFA history. Food Science has been conducting numerous experiments investigating how food ingredients affect the baking or cooking process while Animal Science has just begun to investigate the importance of biosecurity on farms. To say the least, these classes have been flying by and I'm actually getting to enjoy teaching these classes by tweaking activities and instruction from my experiences last year. (The 2nd year of teaching is much less stressful than the first from a curriculum standpoint). Enjoy some of the photos to see specific classroom activities!

During Food Science, student used indicators such as Benedict's Solution, Biuret's Reagent, and Iodine to test various foods for the presence of sugar, protein, and starch, respectively. By observing color changes of the indicators, students could identify a positive or negative presence of a given nutrient in the foods.

Students in Animal Science participated in a Beef Quality Assurance training held on Wednesday, September 24th. Nichole Hockenberry of the PA Beef Council and Dr. Dave Wolfgang from Penn State conducted the training for over 50 students enrolled in Animal Science or Food Science. Students were given the chance to see an injection given on a live beef calf, learn how to administer an intramuscular and subcutaneous injection, and see the damage of giving injections in the wrong location. 
Cumberland Valley FFA

On the FFA side of things, the chapter has been quite busy over the past 2 months by competing in numerous contests, attending conferences, and conducting a popular fundraiser at home football games. 


All-American Dairy Show Junior Dairy Management Contest-2 teams represented the chapter. Throughout the contest, members judged 2 classes of live animals, identified feeds, calculated dairy financial ratios, and answered questions about quality assurance.  CV FFA had the 5th and 10th place team out of a field of 16 teams.

The 10th place Dairy Management team poses after the Award Ceremony.

Keystone International Livestock Exposition-27 FFA members on 8 teams competed among over 400 students from several states in the annual Stockman's Contest. Again at this contest, students answered questions about animal management, judged 3 livestock classes, and identified tools and feed used to manage animals. There were numerous highlights from this contest including the 1st place livestock judging team, 3rd place meat judging team, 3rd place overall judging individual, and the 13th and 17th overall placing individuals.
2 of the 8 KILE Stockman's Contest teams pose after the competition has ended

Tractor Driving-3 young men competed in both the Cumberland County and CDP area tractor driving competitions. At the county contest, CV had the 1st, 2nd, and 8th place individuals, which meant the 1st and 2nd place individual would move on to the area level. Congrats to all on a job well done!

Eastern Regional CDEs-9 students attended the Eastern Regional CDE day at Lebanon Fairgrounds to compete in Horse Judging, Aquatics, and Dairy Foods. This served as a practice for those teams wishing to compete at the PA FFA State Convention in June.


The popular milkshakes!
Milkshakes-At all home football games, CV FFA sells the famous "Farm Show Milkshakes" in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Dairyman's Association. 24 members assist at each game to sell over 900 milkshakes in a 3-hour time period. 
Members pause after milkshake set-up has finished and patiently
wait for the rush to begin.

Youth Overnight Leadership Operation-A favorite activity among members that seeks to attract new members, the "lock-in" event features many recreational activities, leadership workshops, and activities that encourage members to become familiar with FFA activities and opportunities. This year, the chapter also collected canned goods to benefit the "Harvest at Homecoming" food drive.

YOLO attendees gather with the donated canned goods and the #AgItForward campaign.
THON Tailgate Farm Animal Education Area-Another popular tradition is hosting a farm animal education area as part of the THON Tailgate event to raise money for pediatric cancer. About 300 people attend the event, which takes place directly before a home football game.

Attendees to the THON tailgate mingle with the alpacas.
4th Grade Agventure Day-In late October, FFA members invite all the 4th grade classes to the high school to learn more about agriculture and the FFA organization. The 4th graders enjoy agriculture workshops within our Ag Department and get the chance to see where they will take Ag classes in the future. Over 800 students, parents, and teachers attended this year's event!

Heifer International "Beyond Hunger" Event-Dr. Phil Ogline of Heifer International invited CV FFA to be a part of this 70th anniversary celebration of Heifer International. 4 FFA officers attended and assisted with escorting "Seagoing Cowboys" and helping kids realize that hunger is a world issue through numerous interactive booths. The officers brought back valuable information to be utilized during the planning stages of our annual "Hunger Banquet" in March.

Attendees to the Heifer International event were asked to
take a picture with this sign and post photos to various social
 media sites.

Supervised Agriculture Experience

Last, but certainly not least, is the ever-important 3rd component of any Agriculture Education program--SAEs! SAE is the extension of classroom learning that complements a student's interest and allows them to gain experience for their future careers. CV has a variety of SAEs ranging from various entrepreneurship projects where students raise livestock to  home garden projects to off-farm employment and even agricultural communications. Part of the SAE process is for the Ag Teacher to provide supervision to the students conducting their SAEs.  Over the past 9 weeks, I've visited about 13 students with various CDEs.

Some highlights include watching 2 students compete in a Central PA Rodeo Association show and learning that preparing a horse for rodeo events is a very strategic process, tagging 9 market animals for the Pennsylvania Farm Show, visiting a student that is shadowing a horse barn manager, helping 2 Freshmen get started on an Aquaculture SAE, and supervising 2 students begin their Poultry SAEs.

In addition, for 1 Senior and 8 Juniors, hard work and dedication to their SAE projects will pay off shortly as they are beginning to complete their applications for the Keystone and Area Degree, respectively. It is amazing to see all the growth these students have achieved in their SAE programs over the past 3-4 years!

I have numerous students I still need to visit, but our program is slowly beginning to put more of an emphasis on the importance of each student carrying an SAE.

Photos of Emiliann and Makayla at the Central PA Youth Rodeo Association
event in Wellsville on a beautiful September Sunday.

2 of 5 goats that will be attending the Pennsylvania Farm Show
in January to try and qualify for the Youth Sale of Champions
As I'm preparing lesson plans for the upcoming week when we travel to Louisville for the 87th National FFA Convention, I'm looking forward to an exciting week! Our Ag Communications team has been practicing for the National Stage and our AgriScience Fair finalist is preparing to present her research on Equine Ethics.  Time will sure fly by from now until Thanksgiving! Until then, go with the flow!

The Ag Communications team attended a practice Press
Conference to prepare for the national competition this week!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Geting the Dirt on PSU CASE Plant Science 2014

As the summer was winding down, the Center for Professional Personnel Development and the Cumberland Valley Agriculture Department were putting the finishing touches on the plans to host a Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) Summer Institute. The institute hosted this year was Agricultural Science--Plant to complement the previous institutes offered in 2012 (Agricultural Science-Animal) and 2013 (Introduction to AFNR), respectively. With 17 Agriscience teachers from 7 states registered and 2 fantastic lead teachers in place, #case14asp hit the ground running on August 3rd and continued until August 13th.

Clay models created to illustrate the
external and internal anatomy of a
complete flower.
CASE is a one-of-a-kind curriculum that shifts the classroom towards student-based learning and inquiry-based instruction where students apply critical thinking skills and problem-solving each and every day in the classroom.  Students are challenged to take control of their learning and become an active member of the learning community.  For many agriculture programs, this curriculum is implemented to increase the rigor and relevance of agricultural science while preparing students for diverse careers in the field of technical agriculture.

A unique professional development experience in itself, CASE institutes equip teachers with the content they will teach by employing 2 Lead Teachers that guide participants through key Activities, Projects, and Problems that make up the curriculum. Certified CASE teachers have seen the curriculum through a student's eyes and have completed the lab activities and projects firsthand to lead their classes with confidence through the new content. Rather than leaving with a binder full of worksheets, answer keys and video clips, teachers are prepared to develop an engaging classroom environment and lead students in inquiry-based lessons.

Lab exercises utilizing  Labquest interfaces
 and sensors increased the rigor of the
Plant Science course. Here, 2 participants are
measuring the turgor pressure within a leaf stem.
New this year to the CASE arsenal is CASE Online, a resource available to certified CASE teachers. This system provides students and teachers an online method to communicate while completing coursework and share course assignments and assessments. End-of-course assessments and review question banks are now available through this platform for teachers already implementing CASE curriculum.

In addition to learning the curriculum and about available resources, CASE workshops are an excellent opportunity for new and beginning teachers to gain "tricks of the trade" from experienced lead teachers and colleagues with years of teaching under their belt. During several lab activities, participants would volunteer their expertise and provide value-added classroom extension projects that were successful in their past classes. This professional collaboration is often a driving factor in motivating teachers to return to CASE institutes each summer to increase the rigor and relevance of their classes and prepare students for employment in the 21st century food and fiber industry.

Although the end of the institute came way too quickly, the friendships, partnerships, and camaraderie developed at this institute will continue to grow as the 17 certified CASE teachers will communicate throughout the school year and work together through classroom challenges. I look forward to see how my fellow participants will implement CASE in their classrooms this upcoming year and how many students will be impacted through the CASE program into the future.

For more information on available CASE curriculum, CASE Online, and upcoming CASE pilot courses, please visit

17  newly certified Agriscience Teachers from 7 states ready to implement
CASE Agricultural Science-Plant into their classrooms this fall!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Reflection of Year 1

After a CrAzY spring semester, I am happy to say that I am no longer a 1st year teacher! Although the first year was challenging, I can look back and know that I’ve grown in my ability to develop student potential for success in the classroom, through FFA events, and in their various SAE projects.
Group photo from Mid-Winter Convention
Harrisburg, PA
The spring semester finished with many highlights that required the chapter to pull together and produce some great agricultural programming.

A major highlight was visiting West Virginia on our Educational Spring Trip. With a stop at President Eisenhower’s Farm in Gettsyburg, a tour of West Virginia University’s Agricultural Research Farms, and a little ziplining thrown in there, 27 members got a chance to wind down before Easter and learn more about regional agriculture and post-secondary educational opportunities.
27 students attended the annual Spring Trip. The group posed for a picture
after touring the WVU Research Farm.

Directly after Spring Trip, it was time to get ready for 3 back-to-back events.  The first was the 60th Annual Cumberland Valley FFA Parent/Member banquet. The chapter hosted 250 community members, parents, honorary members, administrators, and supporters to the high school auditorium to enjoy in the accomplishments of the chapter during the past year.

The next event was the 3rd Annual “A-Day: Connecting Communities.”  This event was geared toward bringing community members, agriculturists, and students together to become more aware of the bounty that agriculture provides to each individual every day. The event consisted of free “Ag in the Classroom” activities, a Flower Sale, live music, pony rides, and a hay ride. Over 400 individuals attended even with inclement weather.

The final event of the year was the 2nd annual Feast or Famine Hunger Banquet. To replicate the disbursement of poverty in the world, attendees are asked to dine in the shoes of the poor, middle class, and high class based upon the luck of the draw. Tables are decorated accordingly and the meals are varied based upon the class chosen randomly. Speakers from Heifer International, the Central PA Food Bank, and Project SHARE shared remarks on how individuals can help fight hunger locally and abroad.
Feast or Famine was a great event to raise awareness of food insecurity
and ways that local groups can help to fight hunger in Pennsylvania.

As I’m currently attending a CASE institute, I’m reminded of how it is important to recharge during the summer with a combination of professional development and relaxation (well, maybe next summer?). Agriculture Education is a unique career in education because of the opportunities to continuously talk with other educators that are providing a holistic approach to developing their students. Since we see students in many settings beside the classroom (county fairs, judging contests, CDE practices, overnight leadership conferences), it adds that much motivation to seek out new opportunities to develop oneself as a teacher/mentor/coach to make the upcoming year better than the last.

Cheers to year 2!

Monday, January 27, 2014

98th Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show--CV FFA Builds the Future!

Along with students showing animals during the jam-packed schedule at the Farm Show, CV FFA members were also garnering awards for their dedication and hard work during the school year.

The highlight of the Farm Show for many FFA members is the annual Pennsylvania FFA Mid-Winter Convention where the prestigious Keystone Degree is awarded to deserving seniors.  To qualify for the degree, a student must have completed at least 2 years of Agriculture Education classes, earned or productively invested $1,000 in their Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE), or work 300 hours in excess of class time.  This year, 8 CV FFA seniors earned their Keystone Degree with 351 other students from across the Commonwealth.

The 8 Keystone Degree recipients pose with other chapter members attending the Mid-Winter Convention.  Holding their Keystone Degrees (L to R) are K. Paulus, J. Griffin, M. Slike, A. Emig, L. Shatto, S. Christie, and J. Karns. Missing from photo is T. Yount.

CV FFA also had 5 students compete in the FFA Agriscience Fair with their research projects.  Students that have an interest in conducting research to supplement their current Agriculture coursework are encouraged to choose a topic and design a plan to test their hypothesis.  Students then conduct their experient, create a tri-fold display board, and present their results to judges at the event.  Projects receiving 1st place in their respective category have the opportunity to qualify for competition at the 2014 National FFA Agriscience Fair in Louisville, KY.  Here are a listing of the projects that competed in the 2014 PA FFA Agriscience Fair:

  • Feast or Famine: Investigating the Diet of Red-Eared Sliders (E. Goodhart and A. Klinger)
  • What is Happening to the Ogallala Aquifer? (T. Yount)
  • Bovines, Biohazards, and Biological Impacts: How Do They Intertwine? (A. Pauletta) **2nd place
  • Equine Ethics (P. Smith) **1st place
P. Smith presenting her project to a judge.  She received 1st place for her "Equine Ethics" survey project and will be applying to compete at the 2014 National FFA Agriscience Fair in Louisville, KY.

A. Pauletta poses with her project "Bovines, Biohazards, and Biological Impacts." Pauletta placed 2nd in the Environmental Systems division and will be competing at 2 other science fairs this spring with her project.

T. Yount patiently awaits to present her project "What is Happening to the Ogallala Aquifer?" to a panel of judges.  She spurred an interest to further investigate this disappearing resource after competing in the Agriculture Issues Forum CDE at the 2013 National FFA Convention.
In addition, 8 first-year FFA members received their very own blue corduroy jacket as part of the Pennsylvania FFA Alumni's First Year Member Jacket Scholarship program.  To qualify, each student submitted an application that asked them what they hoped to achieve in FFA and what an FFA jacket means to them.
Jacket Recipients pose after zipping up their jackets for the very first time! (L to R)-P. Smith, A. Pauletta, J. Robinson, M. McGee, C. Noss, and A. Klinger.
K. McCarty also received
her FFA Jacket.
K. O'Connor poses with her
mom after receiving her

Finally, CV FFA senior A. Hamilton spearheaded the creation of a 5-7 minute video to participate in the Agriculture Career Connections contest.  She completed interviews with a park ranger within the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to learn about the opportunities in Environmental Education.  The videos were posted online at the Lancaster Farming website and each participating chapter presented a 20-minute informational session about career opporunities they learned about during the creation of the video. Hamilton poses below with the check presented to the chapter on behalf of Lancaster Farming. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

98th Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show--Show Ring Scenery

During the first full week of January, most students are getting back into the routine of going back to school after a much-needed holiday break.  However, for Cumberland Valley FFA members, the beginning of January signaled the beginning of the 98th Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show.  The Farm Show boasts many opportunities for FFA members from across the Commonwealth to display their talents and assist in promoting the story of agriculture to over 1 million visitors at the week-long event.

Saturday, January 4th--Junior Market Goat Show

Four members of CV FFA were preparing to exhibit a market goat in the Junior Market Goat Show against 150+ youth from across the state.  Market goats need to weigh between 65 and 120 pounds to be exhibited at the Farm Show.  In addition, the goal is to have your animal qualify for the Youth Sale of Champions on Tuesday of the following week.  For market goats, only the top 5 placing animals qualify for the sale, making it a very stiff competition.  Here are photos of the competitors and their results:
L. Shatto (Pink shirt) and N. Short (on right) exhibit their market goats in Lightweight Division I.  Shatto placed 5th with her 65-pound market goat, earned "Master Showman" status, and qualified for the Youth Sale.  Short placed 6th with his 65-lb market goat out of 15 entries.
N. Crain (red shirt) exhibits his 72-lb market goat in Lightweight Division II.  Crain placed 8th out of a competitive 15 entries.

A. Emig (far right) placed 3rd in Lightweight Division III and qualified for the Youth Sale on Tuesday.

Sunday, January 5th--Junior Market Lamb Show

A. Miller exhibited a Crossbred market lamb during the Junior Market Lamb Show with his lightweight market lamb.  Miller placed in the middle of Lightweight Division I in the crossbred lamb show.

Monday, January 6th--Junior Market Swine Show

M. Myers exhibited a home-bred crossbred barrow to a 3rd place finish in the one of the most competitive junior events at the PA Farm Show.  By placing 3rd, she too qualified for the Youth Sale of Champions.

Tuesday, January 7th--Junior Livestock Sale of Champions
Even with sub-zero temperatures on a brisk Tuesday morning, three CV FFA members eagerly anticipated the Youth Sale in which they would sell their prized project animals to local businesses that support the 4-H and FFA programs across Pennsylvania.  Shatto, Emig, and Myers eachs sold their respective projects to Cumberland Valley Cooperative, Hoss's Steak and Sea House, and Corner Top Farm.  A hearfelt THANK YOU goes out to each of these buyers for supporting these and other Cumberland Valley FFA members throughout the years at both the PA Farm Show and the Shippensburg Fair.

M. Myers directs her hog in the Sale Ring.  Her barrow was purchased by Corner Top Farm (Ryan and Andrea Brown) of Mechanicsburg.
L. Shatto braces her wether, "Landon" in the Sale Ring.  Cumberland Valley Cooperative was the buyer of this FFA project animal.

A. Emig shows off her 3rd place market goat during the Youth Sale.  Hoss's Steak and Sea House had the final bid on Emig's market goat.