Monday, March 30, 2015

Catch the Wave...Catch the Teach Ag Rave!

For the past few weeks, I've been assisting +/- 12 students in developing their own lesson for the 6th annual Penn State Teach Ag! Essay Contest. What is this, you may ask? A unique opportunity to say the least!

In this state-wide contest, the tables are turned as the students become the teachers. Students are given the chance to teach a class for a day to see the 'behind the scenes' of what it takes to conduct an Agriculture class. Students must identify a topic, create a lesson plan, receive teacher approval and feedback, teach the lesson, and construct a reflective essay about what they learned as a "teacher for a day."

Last year (2014), I had only 6 individuals participate in the contest, so I could 'micro manage' their every move to ensure they had a picture perfect lesson. With more students interested (and some of them repeating from last year), I had to learn to give up some control, give explicit directions about my expectations, and learn to trust my students and their abilities. With only 3 students left to teach at this point, I can say that these kids know their stuff and how to create a fun, engaging lesson!

Watching these students teach has reminded me during my student-teaching experience...wanting to have everything perfect, planning way too much content for a class period, and getting some blank stares from the crowd. Nonetheless, it was cool to see how each student (teacher) adapted to the challenges that were presented to them and how they overcame the ultimate challenge of teaching their peers. I frequently include 5-7 minute presentations into each of my classes, so students are used to speaking in front of their peers. But, keeping their peers' attention for 42 minutes was a new experience for most of them (and somewhat unique for me to sit back and analyze how each person responded).

I hope that the students enjoyed their teaching experience for a day and realize how much work goes into preparing a single lesson (let alone 6 different lessons each day). I hope that by promoting this event, it will benefit all parties involved by creating the opportunity for new conversations during class that may not have existed. Students may realize shared interests, see skills in a classmate that they never saw before, or have a new respect for 'how easy' teachers make teaching look.

Take a look at some of the awesome lessons that students developed!

Taylor E. (pink shirt) presented a lesson on various
salamanders in Pennsylvania and even brought in some
salamanders she caught herself on a scouting trip!

Emiliann G. brought her 2-year-old gelding to school to give students
in Introduction to Agriculture the chance to tack up a horse.

Megan M., another animal lover, thought the best interest approach would
be one of her chickens, Chicko! She discussed the benefits of purchasing farm
fresh eggs.

Courtney W. wanted to share her experience of butchering animals at a local farm.
She discussed terminology for meat science, then gave her peers the chance
to practice skinning a chicken wing--it's harder than you think!

Mackenzie Y., a finalist in last year's Teach Ag! Contest wanted to discuss the
precautions farmers take on their farms to improve biosecurity. She poured her own
agar plates, then asked students to swab a dirty, clean, and disinfected boot
to observe bacteria growth. Did cleaning or disinfecting kill more bacteria?

Monday, February 2, 2015

CV FFA Members Shine at 2015 Pennsylvania Farm Show

Cumberland Valley FFA Members Shine at 2015 Pennsylvania Farm Show

Agriculture takes center stage each year at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, held in early January of each year. THis year, the PA Farm Show celebrated its 99th edition and Cumberland Valley FFA's involvement was evident in many departments within the exhibition. 

Cumberland Valley FFA has consistently participated in the Landscape Design contest, where chapters are asked to create a design that is 10’ x 15’ in size. CV’s Plant Science & Landscape Design class met the challenge and created an engaging landscape design. Students enrolled in Plant Science also created several Horticulture Exhibits that were showcased the entire week.

Additionally, FFA members experienced widespread success in the show ring with their market and breeding livestock projects. With entries coming from across the Commonwealth, exhibitors bring the ‘best of the best’ to compete for top honors.

 Finally, FFA members are able to compete in contests just for FFA chapters within the state of Pennsylvania. CV FFA qualified for the Ag Safety Quizbowl Competition (by placing 4th at Ag Progress Days in August) and had an excellent showing in a competitive field. Members also created a Career Connections Video with the help of CV Alumni about the requirements needed to gain a job within the Food Products and Processing pathway.

To read the full update, please visit this link, Cumberland Valley FFA Newsletters, and click on "2015 Farm Show Update."


22 First-Year members received their FFA Jacket as part of the 
Pennsylvania FFA Alumni Jacket Campaign. Congratulations to all jacket recipients!

Nick Crain, CV's 2015 Keystone Degree Recipient, poses with the 1st year
jacket recipients at the Mid-Winter Convention.

Several students entered Horticulture exhibits into the FFA divisions offered
at the PA Farm Show. Abby Klinger's miniature landscape received "Best of Show"

CV's Plant Science class designed, planned, and implemented a landscape in the
annual competition. This year's theme was "Native Plants." The display
placed 4th.

Several students exhibited livestock in the Youth Market Divisions. 4 qualified for
the Youth Sale of Champions by placing in the top 5 of their respective weight classes.
Megan (in blue) and Paige (in plaid) show their market goats in Lightweight Division I.