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GROWING OUR FUTURE A TEXAS AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE EDUCATION MAGAZINE

FALL 2021


THERE CAN’T BE A GAME WON WITHOUT A GAME PLAN See what Texas FFA students have to say at mytexasffa.org

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SUMMARY 4

Student Engagement Involvement, and Building Quality Relationships

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Setting Professional Goals

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Professional Development Conference Provided Learning Opportunities for Teacher Members

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2021-2022 Texas FFA Officers' Strategic Priorities

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The Texas FFA Convention Reaches More Members Than Ever Before

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Texas FFA Gives to Blue Jeans Go Green™

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Advisors Watch Their Students Take Flight at State Convention

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Welcome to the 2021-2022 School Year

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Cultivating Leadership and Career Readiness

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Leadership Lens

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Gratitude… Is It a Core

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Holistic Student Development

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Texas FFA Alumni and Supporters Updates

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Texas Young Farmers Updates

Gowing Our Furture: A Texas Agricultural Education Magazine 614 East 12th Street Austin, Texas 78701 512-472-3128 Editor/Layout Designer/ Content Director Ashley Dunkerley Assistant Editor Tori Rosser Cover Photo Shot by Next Level Images

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FROM THE EDITOR

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n agricultural science education, we discuss leadership a lot. For a good reason, it is a crucial priority and component of our student’s well-rounded development.

However, have you ever realized that there is not just one definition of the term leadership? Ashley Dunkerley

Warren Bennis said, "Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” John Maxwell says, "Leadership is influence - nothing more, nothing less." Bill Gates says, "As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others." So, what is the correct answer? Is there one single definition that can encompass all that is leadership? Ironically, that answer depends on who you ask. However, the infinite number of definitions is fitting, because ultimately, there are just as many leadership styles. Furthermore, we could estimate that all of them are practiced in some form through ag education. In this issue, you will find articles and features discussing and highlighting various examples and styles of leadership in our community. We hope you enjoy the Fall 2021 issue of Growing Our Future!

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2021

INDUCTEES The Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas Hall of Fame exists to recognize and honor agricultural science teachers whose careers, achievements, and contributions stand exemplary. Inductees are known as well-rounded professionals that have proven their success with FFA activities, in the classroom, as well as community involvement. They have proven their desire to provide students with opportunities for premier leadership, personal growth and career success over a significant period of time.

GARY DAN ALLEN

JAMES HENRY BEVEL

CHESTER BOOTH

SQUIRE COLE, JR.

TOMMY JACK DAVIDSON

DENNIS ELLEBRACHT

STEVE FORSYTHE

TAMMY GLASCOCK

CJ HAGLE

TOM HEFFERNAN

FRANK HERMESMEYER

JAY LEE MAREK

BILL MILLER, JR.

HAROLD PARKER

LARRY PEVETO

EDDIE PUCKETT

BOBBY ROSENBUSCH

GARY ROSENBUSCH

DANNY SCHERTZ

MARTY SPRADLIN

JEROME TYMRAK

GARY VOS

DIEDRE WILLIAMS

WILLIAM WOODY

GERALD YOUNG

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STUDENT

ENGAGEMENT INVOLVEMENT, AND BUILDING QUALITY RELATIONSHIPS BY: S H A N NO N M C C U I ST I O N D E N T O N H I G H S C H O O L A G R I C U LT U R E S C I E N C E T E A C H E R

Agricultural scientist, farmer, and celebrated philosopher of natural farming, MasanobuFukuoka said, “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” These words have never been more valid. In agricultural science education, we don’t solely focus on educating students; we focus on building character and creating a well-rounded young human being. How do we accomplish this? We search for the individual’s core that we all share. Every person wants to be seen, heard, valued, and respected. These are all essential in knowing oneself and being a part of the “bigger picture.” Grasping this concept and honing in on the students’ individualities will help you create meaningful relationships, which is imperative when engaging them in the classroom. Building relationships is the number one reason why students come to your classroom. It’s why they want to learn from you, why they trust you, and why they will listen to you. You can have the coolest, Pinterest-inspired classroom education has ever seen, you can wear the funniest of costumes on spirit days, you can have the most beautiful, elaborate lessons planned out, but if you don’t generate a positive classroom culture by building relationships with students first, you will never have total buy-in.

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I know that most of us in agricultural science education struggle with time. There are always deadlines, hard due dates, LDEs, CDEs, stock shows, and everything else that goes along with this crazy job that we all love. It is consuming, mentally and physically draining, and most of all it takes a toll on ourselves and our families at home. But, we must remember our “why.” Why do we do this job? Why did we choose this path? Why are we always willing to put our students first before ourselves? It’s because

of the relationships we build with our students that will last a lifetime. How do we even begin to build these relationships? What does it take? How do we get students engaged? If you are like me, I can have anywhere from 200-250 students walk through my classroom every year. Will you build quality relationships with every single student? No, but you can try. Some of the most active, involved students have just got “thrown” into my classroom. They didn’t know they wanted to be in ag, they didn’t know what we had to offer, and they were unsure how their peers would perceive them. Teaching in a suburban area of North Texas, we see all kinds of students. We have several different demographics; we have wealthy, affluent students, low socioeconomic students, and a melting pot of cultures all right here. So the pertinent question is, “How can I create a positive classroom environment for this mixture of people?” I get to know them. I show up for games, band recitals, plays, even chess tournaments. I make sure they are seen, heard, respected, and valued as a person every time

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they walk into my classroom. There are multiple strategies to help start knowing your students, but the biggest thing for them is knowing that you care for them and about them.

vastly different needs than one from a large suburban or urban district. But, we all share the same common core. We all want to be seen, to be heard, and to be valued and respected.

Once you have shaped this bond with your students, you will see them become more active and involved during class. They will invest in you and the material that you have to offer. Begin to teach them about FFA, agriscience fair, LDEs, CDEs, and start getting them involved. Incorporate the three-circle model. Show them that there is more to ag than just classroom instruction.

There is no better way to “make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success.” Building relationships in ag just might be the key to unlocking a student’s potential, getting them involved in something great, and engaging them inside and outside the classroom.

Students will be more apt to connect and relate to others who are already impacting your program. They will start to generate their thoughts and ideas about what FFA is and how taking a simple ag class can completely change their lives and open their future into something they never thought they needed or wanted.

“EVERY PERSON WANTS TO BE SEEN, HEARD, VALUED, AND RESPECTED. GRASPING THIS CONCEPT AND HONING IN ON THE STUDENTS’ INDIVIDUALITIES WILL HELP YOU CREATE MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS, WHICH IS IMPERATIVE WHEN ENGAGING THEM IN THE CLASSROOM.”

I firmly believe that building connection before content is vital when creating your chapter’s culture. It’s also the best way to get students actively involved and engaged in the classroom and FFA. We all have unique chapters built with different students who all have different needs. A large chapter in a small community will have 6


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BY: CH R I S BO L E M A N PRESIDENT AND CEO, HOUSTON LIVESTOCK SHOW AND RODEO

SETTING

PROFESSIONAL

GOALS

I believe that the worst question you can ask in an interview is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Have I asked it of myself and others? Of course, but very few people have any idea where they will be in five years. That is just the way life is. However, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a plan, goals, and dreams.

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am honored to be asked to serve as a guest writer for this issue! The topic I was asked to address is “setting professional goals.” So, I hope that the first paragraph was the right “hook” for you to want to continue to read this article. Below are five points I would like to share with you. Enjoy!

all of us have a “learning line.” A line that includes everything you already know about something, a subject, or a topic. However, every line on every subject can be moved based on your willingness and openness to learning. So, as I like to say, if you want to grow professionally and set goals, step one is a commitment to move your learning line!

ONE For me, setting personal goals is about personal growth. Your number one professional and personal goal is to continue to learn and grow. People that don’t reach goals typically get far too comfortable in their current situation. As soon as you turn off “your willingness to learn,” you have, in essence, quit chasing goals. So, even if you are in a position where you want to be the remainder of your career, that is great, but it doesn’t mean you can’t better yourself through learning. Remember,

TWO As you are setting your goals, make sure they are aligned with your passion. So, point two is to chase your passion. For example, I have observed too many people who want to “move up” just to move up. They are chasing extrinsic factors and the glamor of the position. However, are they willing to do the work? Are they ready to make the tough decisions and accept the increased responsibility? The 8


can not be successful professionally if you are not in a good place personally. For Randi and me, there is no goal we could ever reach without the full support of each other. Now, it may not be marriage for you, but it is about making sure you are in a good place personally. That is the key to professional success.

“SETTING PERSONAL GOALS IS ABOUT PERSONAL GROWTH. YOUR NUMBER ONE GOAL IS TO CONTINUE TO LEARN AND GROW.”

With that being said, I will summarize with this one question. Did your line just move? If it did, then this read was worth your time.

answer to these questions is a heck of a lot easier when your professional goals line up with your purpose and passion. When personal passion aligns with organizational mission and purpose, you have hit the “sweet spot.” If you close your eyes and think about a most meaningful leader in your life and had the greatest impact, I promise you it was someone who felt that their purpose aligned closely with the organization. It is the right fit. It’s the “it” when people say, “that person gets it.”

Finally, there is no way I can close this out without thanking you for all you do for the youth of Texas. I know that sounds cliché, but I can never say it enough. You are a difference-maker. You change lives. You are an inspiration to so many, including me!

THREE

“I KNOW THAT SOUNDS CLICHÉ, BUT I CAN NEVER SAY IT ENOUGH. YOU ARE A DIFFERENCE-MAKER. YOU CHANGE LIVES. YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION TO SO MANY, INCLUDING ME!”

Too many people are scared of change. It is not that we don’t aspire to do something different, think differently, or quit dreaming. We are simply afraid to take the step because there is uncertainty, uncomfortableness, and nervousness. Actually, these things are all good! It is what keeps us alive and helps us thrive. Remember your first visit to the university campus you eventually attended? Were you scared? Of course, but look at you now. In reality, change is good! In my opinion, change is good for the heart, the soul, and the mind. Embrace it. Own it.

FOUR Never forget the power of falling forward. Everyone has failed to reach a professional goal — every single one of us. The reality is we learn a heck of a lot more from our failures than we do our successes. So, the key to failure is not actually “the failure.” It is the bounce back. The resilience. The fact that you learned from it and you don’t make the same failure twice.

CHRIS BOLEMAN, PH.D. PRESIDENT & CEO

BOLEMAN WAS NAMED PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE HOUSTON LIVESTOCK SHOW AND RODEO™ ON MAY 12, 2020. DR. BOLEMAN JOINED THE RODEO IN 2017 AS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE AGRICULTURAL COMPETITIONS AND EXHIBITS DIVISION. IN 2019, HE WAS PROMOTED TO CHIEF MISSION OFFICER. A NATIVE TEXAN, DR. BOLEMAN EARNED A BACHELOR OF SCIENCE, MASTER OF SCIENCE AND PH.D. FROM TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY, WHERE HE ALSO HAS SERVED AS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR.

FIVE And most importantly, marry your best friend. I understand that this topic is “professional goals,” but the reality is you 9


BY: R AY P I E N I A Z E K A G R I C U LT U R E T E A C H E R S A S S O C I AT I O N O F T E X A S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE PROVIDED LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR TEACHER MEMBERS

The 2021 Agriculture Teacher Association Conference held in Corpus Christi, Texas this past July was a success. We were excited to be holding an in-person event and we had a large number in attendance by virtual means as well. The conference was the product of hard work by many individuals and made possible by the support of our many sponsors, including our title sponsor CEV Multimedia. We kicked off Sunday with the move-in of exhibitors. This year we had 92 exhibits covering 216 10x10 booths. We appreciate the attendance of many returning exhibitors and a few new ones! The day ended with our annual board of directors meeting.

On Monday, the day started with certification workshops, several being held offsite at schools in the area. These trainings included “Painting Ag Mechanics Projects” at Tilden High School and a blacksmithing workshop at Calallen High School. Along with our regular Texas Parks and Wildlife, floral design, and pesticide workshops, we had a leatherworking workshop that was held on-site. Our area coordinators also met to get details from ATAT, FFA, and Foundation staff on the upcoming year and collaboration to plan activities for the year. In addition, a fun run and golf tournament was held that moring to support the scholarship fund. 10


“WE REACHED RECORD MEMBERSHIP FOR OUR ASSOCIATION THIS YEAR WITH OVER 2,380 MEMBERS.” Registration also began on Monday afternoon, with our in-person attendance totaling 1,865 active, associate, and student attendees. Trying a new schedule for Tuesday, we kicked-off our general session in the Selena Auditorium, with Ryan Pieniazek serving as host for the session. Greg Peterson of the Peterson Farm Brothers shared their story of advocating for agriculture through music parodies and videos of what their daily lives as farmers entail. We also recognized our retirees and our tenure awards of 45, 40, 35, and 30-year members. Area meetings were held beginning at 11 a.m., with six areas meeting following by another six at 230 p.m. We concluded the day with our partners from the state livestock shows making presentations beginning at 5 p.m.

throughout the day, along with the annual VATAT Credit Union meeting. Thursday continued with more workshops. Sixty-five in-person workshops were held between the two days. With over 500 virtual attendees, our offerings were expanded with additional prerecorded workshops for all to access. Additionally, several workshops

Throughout the week, Texas FFA programmatic committee meetings met to make decisions on rule revisions, travel plans, and ways to make items like degree check run efficiently. Wednesday opened with workshops stretching 11


“AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION PLAYS A VITAL ROLE IN OUR SCHOOL SYSTEMS, AND WE ARE EXCITED THAT OUR TEACHERS ARE INVOLVED IN PROMOTING THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY.”

were recorded on-site and placed on the conference website.

One new and significant highlight of the evening was the induction of 25 former ag teachers into the newly formed ATAT Ag Teacher Hall of Fame. Many of them had families in attendance to celebrate their awards and congratulate them. Individuals raised more than $35,000 to have these members placed in the hall of fame. The evening ended with a live auction performed by the Texas Auctioneers Association as they auctioned off items to raise money for scholarships. The effort raised over $4,000. Riverstar Farms also committed another $10,000 to the fund.

During the conference week, 1,496 unique logins occurred on the event site and were accessed 7,757 times, with 47% of the accesses from a mobile device. There were 527 that logged in to watch the live opening session, and 346 watched the closing session. As of August 16th, the three most accessed workshop videos on the conference site were “From the Classroom to the Board Room - Real World Public Speaking,” “Teaching Outside the Lines,” and “A Look Inside the Classroom of Award-Winning Teachers.”

The week ended with our closing session hosted by Traylor Lenz. We honored members of the association who earned 20 and 25-year tenure awards, and hearing from Tiffany Drape, a former ag teacher and now a college professor at Virginia Tech University who spoke on the importance of recognizing the diversity of our agricultural programs in order to make all students feel comfortable.

The highlight of the week came Thursday evening with Family Night sponsored by Ag Workers Mutual Insurance. Nearly 1,900 meals were served, and a few hundred door prizes were given out. A cornhole tournament was held with over 30 teams competing. We recognized our Outstanding Teachers, including Victoria Espinoza as the Oustanding Young Teacher, David Laird as the Outstanding Mid-Career Teacher, and Missy Swarz as the Outstanding Experience Teacher. Our outgoing president, Ryan Pieniazek, was recognized and our new officers introduced, including Traylor Lenz as incoming president, Marco Barrientes as vice president, and Lynita Foster as incoming secretary-treasurer.

We reached record membership for our association this year with over 2,380 members. Agricultural education plays a vital role in our school systems, and we are excited that our teachers are involved in promoting the future of agriculture. 12


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B Y: T H E T E X A S F FA O F F I C E R S

2021-2022 TEXAS FFA OFFICERS' STRATEGIC PRIORITIES

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s state officers, our job is to serve our great organization and the members within it. We are making a concerted effort to communicate information and updates, discussing the various programs and initiatives our state association and leadership are working towards.

MEMBERSHIP RETENTION AND ENGAGEMENT This committee will focus on establishing methods and opportunities to maintain active and interested members.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

OUR VISION STATEMENT

This committee will focus on increasing the leadership development of chapter members so that they have more fulfilling FFA experiences.

For the upcoming year, our team has developed a statement to guide us through the decisions and actions. Our team’s vision statement reads, “We will cultivate an uplifting community by encouraging growth, fostering intentional relationships, and embracing individual value.”

STRENGTHENING EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES This committee will focus on strengthening agricultural education by providing educational resources to students and teachers.

In many ways, this has directed the creation of our strategic priorities to enhance member experiences in FFA on the chapter, district, area, and state levels.

AGRICULTURAL LITERACY This committee will focus on increasing agricultural literacy among our students related to all areas of agriculture, past, present, and future.

OUR STRATEGIC PRIORITIES A strategic priority is a specific issue or item of business that the current state officer team finds should be evaluated or addressed. We set these priorities to advance our organization and better fulfill the needs of the Texas FFA members.

As a team, we look forward to the growth we will experience alongside you all this year. We are excited to work towards achieving these priorities, and we hope you thoroughly enjoy your year as a Texas FFA member.

Below, we’ve outlined our strategic priorities for this year. We hope to keep you informed regarding progress over the next few months.

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FOR SENIORS

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THE TEXAS FFA

CONVENTION REACHES MORE MEMBERS THAN EVER BEFORE

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he feeling was indescribable as the Fort Worth Convention Center roared to life on Monday afternoon. After a canceled in-person event in 2020 and months of uncertainty regarding the 2021 convention, it was surreal for the start of the 93rd Texas FFA Convention to be here. The 2020-2021 state officers chose the theme of “Elevate” for this year’s convention. The theme was an appropriate representation of how, despite the challenges of this last school year, FFA members and chapters rose above adversity to achieve great heights. Here are some of the exciting things that took place at this year’s convention! Eight hundred sixteen chapters registered for the in-person convention experience, and 12,246 individuals joined us in Fort Worth for the festivities. Sixty-three chapters registered for the virtual convention experience, and 2,881 unique visitors came to the convention platform throughout the week. Those visitors accounted for 7,092 unique visits to the site and more than 50,000 individual page views during that time. When looking at both in-person and virtual participation, we had the most participation ever in a convention with 15,127 participants! Many favorite convention activities were back after a hiatus due to the pandemic. This year’s convention featured general sessions, an exhibit show, leadership workshops, and the FFA rodeo! William Clark Green played the convention kick-off concert, sponsored by Ag Worker’s on Tuesday, and participants rocked out to our incredible talent contestants on Thursday during Fun Night! State-level competitors in the Agriscience Fair, Speaking Development Events, Spanish Creed Speaking Invitational, and Star Awards fought hard for top honors. It was an incredible week celebrating and highlighting the excellence of Texas FFA members and chapters. 16


“THE THEME WAS AN APPROPRIATE REPRESENTATION OF HOW, DESPITE THE CHALLENGES OF THIS LAST SCHOOL YEAR, FFA MEMBERS AND CHAPTERS ROSE ABOVE ADVERSITY TO ACHIEVE GREAT HEIGHTS.” Conducting the business of the association is always a highlight of the convention each year. On Wednesday morning, convention delegates considered several items of business. Dues for the 2021-2022 membership year were set at $5.00 per member. Delegates also approved the budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year and approved the state degree and honorary state degree recipients. Ryan Williamson of El Campo, TX, was selected as the 2021 National Officer Candidate from Texas. Ryan will represent our state at the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo this fall. Finally, a new slate of officers was elected to serve the association this coming year.

with this new officer team. Thank you to everyone who registered and participated in this year’s convention. Thank you to the 2020-2021 state officer team for everything that was done over the last year to keep members feeling connected and affirmed in their purpose. Thank you to the Texas Team Ag Ed members for working hard to make this opportunity a reality for students. Thank you to the Fort Worth Host Committee for their efforts to garner support for our hallmark event. This would not have been possible without the efforts of everyone! We’ll see you next summer in Fort Worth for the 94th Texas FFA State Convention, July 11-15, 2022!

We look forward to the year that lies ahead

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TEXAS AUCTIONEERS ASSOCIATION & NATIONAL AUCTIONEERS ASSOCIATION Your Partner for FFA and Future Auction Professionals! PROUD TO BE 2021 GOLF TOURNAMENT & LECTURE SPONSOR! • Thank you to TAA and Morgan Hopson, National & Texas Champion Auctioneer and Hudson Sisk, FFA Alumni, for their support of the 2021 VATAT Convention and new family night auction!

YOUR AUCTION PARTNER & RESOURCE!

• For Free Teacher & Student Guides to the NEW Auction Profession SAE, Visit www.TexasAuctioneers.org and click on the FFA RESOURCE button! TAA can provide information on: • How to find an auctioneer. • How auction marketing works. • How to become an auctioneer. • How to include auction method in your chapter fundraising with your students.

WWW.TEXASAUCTIONEERS.ORG - INFO@TEXASAUCTIONEERS.ORG

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W R I T T E N B Y : M A C I S C H L E Y, E D G E W O O D F FA P H O T O B Y: J I L L F U LT O N , G E O R G E T O W N F FA

TEXAS FFA GIVES TO BLUE JEANS GO GREEN™

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90% cotton or more, the item is considered acceptable for the program.

Since 2006, Cotton has worked with Bonded Logic, Inc. to manufacture this insulation material. Each year, a portion is distributed to help build efforts in communities around the country.

Mace said she already recycles her clothes, but she was excited to give an organization a cause and be a part of a group effort.

exas FFA members are living to serve by participating in the Cotton’s Blue Jean Go Green™ denim recycling program at the 93rd Annual Texas FFA State Convention. More than 3,350 pairs of jeans were collected and will be recycled into insulation and used in various applications.

Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green denim recycling program is an industry sustainability initiative created by Cotton Incorporated to combat textile waste, specifically denim, and harness the collective power of individuals and organizations across the U.S. Since denim is made from cotton, a natural and sustainable fiber, it can be recycled into something new. All types of denim apparel, including shirts, skirts, shorts, jackets, etc., can be contributed. As long as it’s at least 19

Magnolia West FFA members Kayden Mace and Vanessa Dozal said although they thought denim was a curious textile to be collecting, they were elated to give to the cause.

“It was such a nice thing to do. Giving denim products is a unique type of service, which is what I loved being a part of,” Mace said. Dozal has a strong passion for giving back since the community has provided her with many outstanding opportunities. “Incorporating community service projects into our state association exemplifies how much FFA wants to give back,” Dozal said.


W R I T T E N B Y: B R A E LY N P O I N T E R , S U DA N F FA & AVA - C L A I R E C A S T L E M A N , H A R M O N Y F FA P H O T O B Y: M A E C Y S M I T H , J A C K S O N V I L L E F FA

ADVISORS WATCH THEIR STUDENTS TAKE FLIGHT AT STATE CONVENTION

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very year FFA advisors bring their students to the Texas FFA Convention with the intention of elevating each member’s journey to new heights.

ner stated. “They take that back and use those ideas to make our chapter grow.”

With so many opportunities for personal growth at convention, student development is evident in the eyes of chapter advisors. Brenham FFA advisor Colby Finke said his students develop a passion for the FFA while being at the state convention. Shannon Dahlstrom, Jack C. Hays FFA chapter advisor, said even though most of her students have never attended state convention before, the impact of the event has positively influenced them. “The greatest thing is when they put on official dress and walk into the convention hall for the first time,” Dahlstrom said. “They feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves.” Dayton FFA advisor Hali Wagner has seen many improvements from her students as a result of coming to the convention. “It’s awesome when students get ideas from what other students and chapters do,” Wag20

Not only does state convention promote personal and program growth, but the opportunities also present themselves for relationships to be made for years to come. Mike Rempe of Yoakum FFA said the most rewarding thing about the convention is the friendships and bonds made not only within their chapter but with other chapters across the state. “They’ll have friends from all over the state that they never would have had before,” Central FFA advisor Erin Griffin said. “They meet new people here and network with people from different backgrounds.” Caldwell FFA advisor Lisa Pieper believes because of the experiences FFA offers, her students reap a variety of benefits. “I’ve seen students come out of their shell and be more of a voice within their chapter because they have been exposed to different experiences,” Pieper said. “These experiences have given them the confidence to teach and educate other members.”


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Special Awards

VIP Award

Champion Award Jake Paine

Jerome Tymrak

Legislative Award Trent Ashby

TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 57

outstanding teacher Awards David Laird

Victoria Espinoza

OUTSTANDING MID-CAREER TEACHER

OUTSTANDING YOUNG TEACHER

Margaret Swartz OUTSTANDING EXPERIENCED TEACHER

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A G R I C U LT U R E T E A C H E R S A S S O C I AT I O N O F T E X A S

WELCOME TO THE 2021-2022 SCHOOL YEAR

BY: T R AY LO R L E N Z P R E S I D E N T O F T H E A G R I C U LT U R E T E A C H E R S A S S O C I AT I O N O F T E X A S A N D A N G L E T O N H I G H S C H O O L A G R I C U LT U R E S C I E N C E T E A C H E R

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elcome to the 2021-2022 school year. If you are a returning teacher, I hope it is your best year ever. For those of you just starting, I hope that this year will be free of stress and that you accomplish all that you set out to accomplish. You all have chosen a very rewarding and demanding profession.

campus or in your district. At some point, your students and possibly their parents will notice what you are doing. Maybe that will create a model for your students to follow. Remember that we are being watched 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Leadership is not something we do only from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

I am Traylor Lenz, your ATAT president for 2021-2022. This will be my twenty-fourth year teaching agricultural science. I have only taught in one school district, and that is Angleton ISD. I could not have made it without the support of some great administrators and other agricultural science teachers that I looked up to. Do not be afraid to seek out help from some more experienced teachers in your area.

In my career, I have been asked to read many leadership books by my different principals. At first, I was not a big fan of reading the assigned books. As I have gotten older, I have found myself reading the books and going back and rereading those from the past. Some of them have excellent ideas that can help you with teams, classroom management, and working with your peers. All things that can help accomplish your goals and reduce your stress. Sometimes, taking on leadership roles can just add things to your plate and cause more stress. I feel it is all in how you approach the role and who is around to help.

As I look back on my career, leadership seems to be something that always sticks out. Good leaders seem to come to my mind, whether it was a CTE director, principal, or another ag teacher. Without good leaders, it is hard to accomplish the things we would like to achieve. I know that many different leadership styles can be used; however, I tend to lead by example.

One of my new favorite quotes about leaders comes from Coach Nick Saben.“If you want to make everyone happy, don't be a leader; sell ice cream.”

I feel we as teachers should lead by example. If we want our students to dress a certain way then we should model that style. If we want our students to do things a certain way in class we should model that as well. As we go through the school year, there will be many leadership opportunities for you as a teacher. What better way to exhibit leadership to your students than to step up and help in that role on your

“NOT ALL OF US WILL BE COMFORTABLE IN VARIOUS LEADERSHIP ROLES. BUT WE ARE THE LEADERS OF OUR CLASSROOM AND OUR PROGRAMS.” 23


“I HOPE YOU ACHIEVE ALL YOU SET OUT TO ACCOMPLISH THIS YEAR. REMEMBER, MANY PEOPLE IN THIS PROFESSION ARE WILLING TO LISTEN AND READY TO HELP YOU.”

A N E XC E R P T F R O M A PA S T A G R I C U LT U R E T E A C H E R S A S S O C I AT I O N OF TEXAS NEWSLETTER

THINKING

Not all of us will be comfortable in various leadership roles. But we are the leaders of our classroom and our programs. We are not always going to be the most popular, but if we stick to our values and make good choices, we should be able to sleep at night with a good conscience.

OF THE

80

As we go into this new school year and think on leadership, it reminds me of a quote from a speaker we had at our conference one year, Dr. Kevin Elko. He said, “Your level of success depends on your ability to lead and influence the people in your life.” To me, that is just what we, as teachers do. The people in our lives are our students. If we lead and influence these young people the right way, we can accomplish what they want and what we want.

YEARS THE DOINGS AND HAPPENINGS IN YOUR ASSOCIATION

I hope you achieve all you set out to accomplish this year. Remember, many people in this profession are willing to listen and ready to help you. I hope everything goes your way.

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From 2008 "We need to start looking toward the future and start encouraging our students to become our replacements. We must show them the great things they can achieve when they give back, using the knowledge and wisdom they have developed under your guidance. The future is always full of promise and with your counsel and dedication ag education will continue to grow and prosper. There are numerous career opportunities for our students as we prepare them for college. I hope that we will get back to encouraging them to choose the field of agriculture education.”

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AGRICULTURE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION OF TEXAS

SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

Taylor Barrett Megan Bindseil Janae Braune Aiden Butler Katelyn Carnes Kelly Cash Dalton Clarke Jordan Davis Cooper Dube William Edwards Victoria Fowler Presley Griffith Eric Harrel Trey Heard Bethany Heimann Brady Ingram James Kelley Kayli Kennedy Micheal Kroll, III Robert Lankford Brittyn LeCompte Mason Lindig Kasey Long Karlie Lowe Emma Lozada Regan Lux Maci McKay Blake McKenzie

Connor Meinardus Reagan Meinardus Julie Michalcik Avery Oliver Delaney Pavelock Channing Pieniazek Kyla Porter Mason Pouncy Dylan Reiley Grace Rempe Jace Richardson Colton Rudloff Kayden Salinas Kolby Sims Bayleigh Smith Taylor Spencer John VanDevender Jordan VanDevender Karlee Vinklarek Madelyn Wallace Alexa Waneck Trinity Watkins Braden Watts Hayden Wehba Ryland Wieding Lawrence Wood William Wood 25


A G R I C U LT U R E T E A C H E R S A S S O C I AT I O N O F T E X A S

CULTIVATING

LEADERSHIP AND CAREER READINESS BY: R YA N P I E N I A Z E K PA S T P R E S I D E N T O F T H E A G R I C U LT U R E T E A C H E R S A S S O C I AT I O N O F T E X A S A N D F R E N S H I P H I G H S C H O O L A G R I C U LT U R E S C I E N C E T E A C H E R

A

s agricultural science teachers and FFA advisors, the word leadership is one that we are all familiar with. As I write this, you are probably already encouraging students to be on your leadership development teams. Perhaps you are working with a new officer team and growing the young ones to fill the shoes of recent graduates. When I talk with business and industry representatives, the overwhelming majority tell me that the agricultural classroom is the only place they learn parliamentary procedure. To take it a step further, our leadership development events are one of the few places that students learn to effectively communicate with diversified audiences on a wide range of topics in numerous settings.

fortunately, our great state and country are experiencing a shortage in our labor force. The FFA mission statement reads that the purpose of our program is to develop our students' potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. Through agricultural education and the three-circle model, we are preparing students to be not only the skilled laborers needed to meet the needs of an ever-growing population but we are also cultivating the next leaders in our communities, our state, our country, and our world.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” - Luke 10:2

But have you ever sat down and thought about what exactly it means to develop leaders? What are we actually preparing our students to do? Take a minute and think about your community. Who are the leaders in your community? From town to town, each day there are former students who step up and take on the role of being a leader. From the volunteer fire department chief to the school board member, to the president of your local booster club, to the chairman of the county fair board, we are preparing the next leaders of our community.

As you drive around your towns and communities, you may have noticed a recent trend. It seems that businesses are having a difficult time finding employees. Some businesses have even had to reduce hours of availability due to the shortage of staff. Regardless of the region you live in, the number of help wanted signs that can be seen in front of businesses is many. Un-

“AS LEADERS, WE ARE CALLED TO PERSEVERE THROUGH DIFFICULTIES AND STAY THE COURSE TO BE EXAMPLES FOR OUR STUDENTS AND COMMUNITY.”

The skills our students are gaining from participating in leadership development events are not just preparing them for careers but for roles so desperately needed in each and every one of our communities. Yes, we are also preparing our students to be future scientists, salespeople, and agricultural advocates, but we are preparing them for something so much more.

26


state CDE committee in the revision of our state CDE rules. All the teachers who assume the role of Area Coordinator, such as Kelley Clements, take the lead in our area associations in the coordination of activities within our areas. And I can’t help but think of the individuals that serve on the Texas FFA Board of Directors who over the last year and a half had to make many difficult decisions, many of which have not always been popular, to help keep our program’s activities happen in a manner that was best for all members. The list could go on and on, but undoubtedly the ag ed family is blessed with leaders who consistently step forward and do whatever it takes for our students.

“THROUGH AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION AND THE THREECIRCLE MODEL, WE ARE PREPARING STUDENTS TO BE NOT ONLY THE SKILLED LABORERS NEEDED TO MEET THE NEEDS OF AN EVERGROWING POPULATION BUT WE ARE ALSO CULTIVATING THE NEXT LEADERS IN OUR COMMUNITIES, OUR STATE, OUR COUNTRY, AND OUR WORLD.”

I hope that you have a fantastic year in the classroom and all your FFA endeavors. Thank you for allowing me to serve you this past year as the ATAT President. I hope you will all continue to fight the good fight of cultivating leadership within your chapters and communities. In closing, I would like to leave you with some words by former President Teddy Roosevelt:

We will always be faced with challenges that our program and our students must overcome. We live in a time where we are witnessing political turmoil coupled with COVID, and state education mandates that we must continue to learn to overcome. As leaders, we are called to persevere through difficulties and stay the course to be examples for our students and community. As an agricultural science teacher, you have the opportunity to show and cultivate your students to become young leaders that can and will make a difference in our world.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Teddy Roosevelt

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 When I think about our leaders within agricultural education, I think of many people. I think of individuals like Jim Harris, who cultivated the idea of honoring outstanding agricultural science teachers by planting the seeds to form the Agricultural Teachers Hall of Fame. I also think of Brent Lankford, who has served for many years with the Texas FFA Scholarship Committee and serves in his community by helping his students and selflessly helps other chapters with their activities, and devotes his time to programs at the North Texas State Fair. Melissa Rosenbush also comes to mind as a leader within our organization as she has helped guide our

“I HOPE THAT YOU HAVE A FANTASTIC YEAR IN THE CLASSROOM AND ALL YOUR FFA ENDEAVORS.” 27


A G R I C U LT U R E T E A C H E R S A S S O C I AT I O N O F T E X A S

LEADERSHIP LENS WHAT LEADERSHIP LENS DO YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF THROUGH?

BY: R AY P I E N I A Z E K A G R I C U LT U R E T E A C H E R S A S S O C I AT I O N O F T E X A S E X E C U T I V E D I R E C T O R

I

n last fall’s magazine issue, I wrote on the importance of being involved in leadership positions in your school and community. This year, as I began to write my article I was not sure what I wanted to discuss, so I Googled “leadership stories” and came across an article titled “What’s Your Leadership Story” by Alyson Meister, Wei Zheng, and Barker Caza in the Harvard Business Review.

sion for the program? As in my last article, I suggested getting involved in school committees. Maybe you see a need for the school outside of your program that you want to take on and engage with others on campus. You may also have officer or teacher conflicts to deal with, and this is the lens you must see things through. As I think about dedicated agriculture teachers, the lens of performing seems to fit many of us. You want the best for your students and look for ways to make them grow. You may also feel that you may want to protect your agriculture department team members from administration and work to mitigate on their behalf when issues arise. You step up to make sure all department members are succeeding and thriving in their work experiences.

They interviewed 92 people, asking their origins of leadership. They concluded that all respondents looked at their origin through a lens of one of the following themes – being, engaging, performing, or accepting. The question would be to you as a teacher, sponsor, supporter, or retiree what leadership lens did you see yourself through? Those that chose being “always thought of themselves as a leader.” I am sure many of you might have experienced this. Surely you see your students organizing others, or you have organized others to meet goals that were asked of you. Encourage your students to take charge – you will more than likely see the natural leaders. Empower them with opportunities to develop their leadership skills in the classroom, the FFA, other organizations, and community groups.

You as a teacher may also be using the lens of accepting because you may have never seen yourself as a leader growing up, but see people following you in what you are doing now. You may be seeing this situation play out with our students. They may not even notice that others are following them. That sets you up to make them aware that they have leadership skills even when they feel they are not actively leading. Finally, the article states that you may look at yourself as a leader through more than one lens, which will help you strengthen yourself both inside and outside the classroom. I can see myself through many of these lenses, and I bet you can too. I hope you have a great fall and a great school year.

There may be many of you as agricultural science teachers that have been faced with the engaging lens. If you have been tasked to start a new FFA or agricultural science program, you fit into this category. Are you changing the way the previous teacher did things and created a new vi28


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30


T E X A S F FA F O U N DAT I O N

GRATITUDE…

IS IT A CORE VALUE? BY: A A RO N A L E JA N D RO T E X A S F FA F O U N DAT I O N E X E C U T I V E D I R E C T O R

W

hat are you grateful for? As teachers, students, or stakeholders, what do we have to be grateful for in Texas agricultural science education and FFA in 2021? Let’s reflect on gratitude, its opposite, and what we have.

tude?” After a long pause, he added, “The opposite of gratitude is ENTITLEMENT.” So, when we examine the rhetoric around entitlement, it includes: • • • •

GRATITUDE When you start each day, do you assess items of gratitude? Time and again, whether the question is asked to teachers, students, or stakeholders, here is what most people share. I am grateful for: • • • • • • • • • •

A sense of entitlement is a trait based on a belief someone deserves special treatment or recognition for something they didn't earn. This attitude conveys the world owes them something without ever giving anything in return. When asked what feelings are associated with entitlement, respondents said:

Family Friends My Country My State Freedom / Liberty Health Faith Job Ability to Help Others Opportunities

• • • • •

Negative Angry Anxious Aggressive Disappointment

BENEFITS OF GRATITUDE

A follow-up to the question, “what are you grateful for,” when you reflect on what you are grateful for, “How does it make you feel to reflect on those things?” Most people respond: • • • • • • •

“That’s mine.” “That’s not fair.” “I deserve that” “Give me.”

When we start from a position of gratitude, we are energized and want to say thank you for the chance to enjoy the gift, opportunity, or accomplishment. People who possess an attitude of gratitude are generally happy, visionary, empowering, and encouraging. Conversely, ungrateful

Positive Energized Humbled Good Optimistic Encouraged Hopeful

“PEOPLE WHO POSSESS AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE ARE GENERALLY HAPPY, VISIONARY, EMPOWERING, AND ENCOURAGING.”

ENTITLEMENT Foundation board member, Tom Ziglar, spoke to a group of college students and asked them, “What is the opposite of grati31


Leadership Development: Texas FFA members have access to more leadership development training beyond the chapter level than ever before. Students can access the Leadership Continuum (Made for Excellence, Building Excellence, and Executing with Excellence), Growing the Future Leadership Series, Ford Leadership Scholars, Legislative LEAD, and the Texas FFA Foundation Ambassadors. In addition to what is offered to students, our agricultural science teachers have more opportunities too. The LEAD Experience and Legislative LEAD program provide next-level leadership training.

“IF YOU ARE A TEXAS FFA MEMBER, AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE TEACHER, OR STAKEHOLDER, YOU HAVE MORE TO BE THANKFUL FOR TODAY THAN EVER IN OUR 93-YEAR HISTORY. people tend to be absorbed in the sense of self-importance, arrogance, vanity, and a need for admiration and approval. Narcissists (those who think the world revolves around them) struggle with the ties or relationship of reciprocity or showing gratitude. They expect favors and feel no need to give back or pay it forward.

Professional Networks: With the addition of more sponsors and stakeholders, our students and teachers have access to more professional networks accessing insights, expertise, best practices, and leading-edge knowledge. Improved networks afford students access to references, college, and career opportunities.

Embracing gratitude is liberating. Gratitude is the recognition that life owes me nothing and all the good I have is a gift. There are benefits of having an attitude of gratitude:

Sponsors and Stakeholders: More sponsors and stakeholders – than ever before - are providing much-needed fuel to help make dreams come true. Sponsors share their time, talents, and treasurers to empower, encourage, and prepare our students for a successful future. Our teachers have additional educational assets and information to share in their classrooms and community.

• Improved sleep quality • Improved emotional stability • Increased feelings of happiness and positivity • A feeling of hope for the future • Reduced stress, burnout, and increased resiliency

WE HAVE MUCH TO BE GRATEFUL FOR

SAY THANK YOU We have a goal at the Texas FFA Foundation to say thank you seven times to our sponsors. It could be a letter, email, handwritten note, or phone call. It could be a call from a board member, another sponsor, or professional colleague, but we want to ensure sponsors hear the words “thank you,” “we appreciate you,” “that you had many options to share your support, but you chose us, so thank you.” We want our sponsors to know we have a culture of appreciation and gratitude that we are passing on to the next generation.

So, what does Texas agricultural science education and the FFA have to be grateful for? If you are a Texas FFA member, agricultural science teacher, or stakeholder, you have more to be thankful for today than ever in our 93-year history. Scholarships: Texas FFA members have access to more academic and award scholarships than ever before. We have wonderful scholarship sponsors who have increased the number and amounts of scholarships given to the Texas FFA. Additionally, the efforts of the Texas FFA Foundation to secure donors for our award scholarship endowment are providing diverse scholarship support in perpetuity.

Say thank you to someone today and start each day by reflecting on all we have to be grateful for. 32


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T E X A S F FA A S S O C I AT I O N

HOLISTIC STUDENT DEVELOPMENT

BY: AU ST I N L A RG E F O R M E R T E X A S F FA A S S O C I AT I O N E X E C U T I V E D I R E C T O R

I

t has been an honor to be a part of the agricultural education profession for the last 14 years. Since I stepped into my first classroom as an agricultural science teacher at Esparto High School, I have been driven by my purpose of serving people and building systems that serve people. In each role that I have had within agricultural education, I’ve been charged with the holistic development of students.

ture around us. We mirror the attitudes and dispositions of those above us on the campus food chain, and it has a negative impact on both our students and programs. As you begin this new school year, my challenge is to be the thermostat on your campus and in your program. Be the individual that sets the tone and establishes high expectations for success.

Part of that development for my students has always encompassed the book series “Habitudes” by Dr. Tim Elmore. “Habitudes” are images that form leadership habits and attitudes and connect leadership content to an easily recalled image. Since our students are so visual in consuming information, this has been an excellent resource for them as they develop as young leaders. As I’ve shared before, I’m a firm believer in the practice of reflection. Since my time in agricultural education is quickly ending, I want to share a few of my favorite “Habitudes” with you as you look to begin a new school year.

“The way to the top with people is by serving them extravagantly and sacrificially. A simple clerk did this to Mr. Waldorf, and the rich tycoon returned to make that clerk his first hotel manager in New York. People expect good service from leaders. They are surprised when we serve sacrificially.” 2

THE WALDORF PRINCIPLE

“People are either thermometers or thermostats. They will merely reflect the climate around them, or they will set it. Leaders develop values and principles to live by and set the pace for others.” 1

This image tells the story of Mr. Waldorf Astor and his wife being served extravagantly and sacrificially by George C. Boldt. Mr. Waldorf and his wife were found themselves stuck in a storm in Philadelphia, and they attempted to get a hotel room at the hotel where Mr. Boldt was the desk clerk. Although the hotel was sold out, Mr. Boldt offered his personal room to the Waldorf’s because he could not allow them to go back out in the rain in search of other accommodations. A few years later, Mr. Waldorf opened the Waldorf As-

What a concept, to be a thermostat rather than just a thermometer. When you recognize that you as a teacher and FFA advisor can set the climate around you, it changes how you approach situations and deal with setbacks. Too often, we are all guilty of just reflecting the climate/cul-

“IT HAS BEEN AN HONOR TO BE A PART OF THE AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION PROFESSION FOR THE LAST 14 YEARS.”

THERMOSTAT vs. THERMOMETER

34


ld happen in the classroom, through SAE, and through involvement in the FFA for ALL students. You are each incredible gardeners, and I cannot wait to see the fruit of your labor!

“I HOPE YOU ENTER THE 20212022 SCHOOL YEAR WITH THE MINDSET OF SERVING YOUR STUDENTS, CAMPUS, AND COMMUNITY EXTRAVAGANTLY AND SACRIFICIALLY. IF YOU DO, I AM CONFIDENT THAT THOSE ACTS OF SERVICE WILL COME BACK TO YOU TENFOLD."

I wish each of you nothing but the best as you start what I hope is a more normal school year. There will undoubtedly be challenges, but I hope you remember the following: • You can be a thermostat in any situa- tion and set the climate/culture arou- nd you • Serving people extravagantly and scrificially expands your ability to impact and influence • Our duty is to tend to the develop ment of ALL students in the class room, through SAE, and in the FFA

toria hotel in New York City and asked Mr. Boldt to be his first manager. I love this “Habitude” because it shows how you can impact others in big and small ways. As individuals in the agricultural education profession, serving people sacrificially and extravagantly is not a new practice. I share this as a reminder that when we do our very best to serve others, our ability to impact and influence expands. I hope you enter the 2021-2022 school year with the mindset of serving your students, campus, and community extravagantly and sacrificially. If you do, I am confident that those acts of service will come back to you tenfold.

Thank you for the work that you do! Citations: 1 “Image Four: Thermostat vs. Thermometer.” Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits & Attitudes, vol. 1, by Tim Elmore, Growing Leaders, 2010. 2 “Image Nine: The Waldorf Principle.” Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes, by Tim Elmore, vol. 2, Growing Leaders, 2007. 3 “Image Ten: The Gardner’s Job.” Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes, by Tim Elmore, vol. 2, Growing Leaders, 2007.

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T E X A S F FA A L U M N I A N D SUPPORTERS

U P D AT E S B Y: K E L LY W H I T E , T E X A S F FA A L U M N I P R E S I D E N T

J

ohn Maxwell once said, "The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them as leaders, and continually develops them."

der the National FFA Alumni and Supporters 501 c3 umbrella. I also read on “Ag Teacher Buddies” that it was suggested to have an Alumni and Supporters Affiliate “because your school district can’t tell you what to do.” Allow me to share a story with you…

I would almost bet that when American author, speaker, and pastor, John Maxwell, wrote the above statement that he was on the outside looking in on the FFA organization. Perhaps you may have the next John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar, or the next Texas FFA President entering your classroom this year. What impact will you have on your students?

I received a call from Josh Rusk, the Executive Director of the National FFA Alumni and Supporters. He shared with me that he received a call from a disgruntled parent asking what right a high school principal had to tell their alumni how to conduct business. In the conversation, the caller also stated that he wasn’t happy with the ag teachers because they didn’t have any business telling the alumni what they can or cannot do. I pondered this conversation and remembered back to a previously held meeting at my local alumni affiliate. I curiously asked Josh the name of the program that the caller said the problem occurred; low and behold, the call was from my program. I had a sneaking suspension because my teaching partner and I had a conversation with our principal and associate principal after the same caller told our administration that they possessed no authority over our alumni.

You may have noticed that the overarching theme of this magazine issue is leadership. Yet, my goal as an FFA Alumni and Supporter leader is to persuade you to establish an affiliate (aka chapter) at your local program. I follow a Facebook group by the name of “Ag Teacher Buddies.” Perhaps you have heard about it? Anyway… I have seen several discussion post about the pros and cons of a support organization. I appreciate those that favor having an alumni program at your school. I have no hard feelings for suggesting a booster club or a young farmers program as your support group. However, my preference is an alumni, followed by a young farmers group then a booster club. Granted, I have seen some that suggest staying away from a support group as if it were a poisonous snake.

Josh Rusk shared the following Ag Ed Organizational Chart with me developed by the National FFA Organization. I have since then shared it with fellow ag teachers, a superintendent that was trying to save his new ag teacher, and others looking for how to establish their program. It may not be popular or the answer that you seek. I hope it helps when searching for that “right fit.”

The bottom line is that any of these programs are like a pair of boots. Find something that fits your comfort and your style. Just remember that you can custom-fit any of these. However, ask yourself which one offers grants, scholarships, supports the ATAT and the Texas FFA. We even provide an umbrella un-

I hope that you consider chartering an Alumni and Supporters Affiliate this year. 36


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T E X A S Y O U N G FA R M E R S

U P D AT E S B Y : H E R B C A S E Y, T E X A S Y O U N G FA R M E R S P R E S I D E N T

Agricultural Teachers Association of Texas administers the program. Membership is not limited to those who are engaged in farming or have special interests. The Young Farmers Association and chapters are comprised of persons simply interested in agriculture. However, you must be above 18-years-old and out of high school. Members of the organization are “young at heart.”

The Texas Young Farmers Association began as the “FFA Alumni Club” but evolved into a viable and far-reaching organization open to others interested in the progression of agriculture, leadership, and education. Presently, agribusinesses, people in many walks of life, and local firms have supported the endeavors of the Texas Young Farmers with their money and time, thus contributing to the success of the association.

Since the organization, a 501.c3 non-profit, has a constitution and bylaws, activities of the Young Farmers have standards to follow. As a result, personal agendas that some individuals may have when joining the organization are severely limited. Members are interested in youth, agriculture, education, community service, leadership, and recreation. The local ag teacher is the “behind the scenes” person exercising indirect leadership as a school-based organization.

The future of agriculture lies with the youth of America and the ability to become more involved in the education of our young people. What better way to keep an organization and country moving forward than to educate the men and women of today…for tomorrow! Local Young Farmers members cooperate with the agricultural science teachers, FFA chapters, and their activities, often raising money to meet the chapter’s needs that school budgets cannot provide. For instance, one Young Farmers chapter has purchased a lamb/goat/swine trailer, squeeze chute, and panels for a new barn, just to name a few. They have also provided $2,000 each year for LDE/CDE entries, t-shirts for all county show participants, and scholarships.

The Texas Young Farmers State Convention is held annually and features educational and leadership workshops, tours of various agricultural and recreational points of interest, along with membership awards and contests. Some past conventions have been held in Bryan, Caldwell, Denton, Gonzales, Kerrville, San Antonio, and Temple. Details regarding the January 2022 convention can be found at www.txyoungfarmers.org.

Many local Young Farmers chapters also provide scholarships to FFA members. These opportunities are available through state and national associations.

For further information, assistance, or program speakers, please contact Sandra Choate, Executive Secretary, 903.286.0520 or txyfaes@gmail.com.

Only eight members are required to secure a Texas Young Farmers charter and become affiliated with the state association. The 38


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