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GROWING OUR FUTURE A TEXAS AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE EDUCATION MAGAZINE

SPRING 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 3

Standing for a Cause in The Blue Jacket

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Texas FFA Legislative Experience Online

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Sharing Student’s Time

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Floral Design in The Classroom: Adapting and Thriving

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Talking Points for Representatives and Senators

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If You Build It, They Will Come: The Community Impact of a Greenhouse

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Be the Voice of Agriculture in Your Community

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Kenneth Parker Reflects on Four Decades as an Ag Educator in Texas

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Cameron Yoe FFA Member Finds Purpose in Radio Broadcasting and Podcasting

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What Do Texas Agricultural Education Programs Teach?

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Texas Team Ag Ed Staff Spotlight

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Snow, Covid-19 and Community

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How to Plan for Retirement: Part I

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Stories Worth Telling

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Speak Up and Don’t Stink

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Texas FFA Alumni and Supporters 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 Ashley Dunkerley

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FROM THE EDITOR

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dvocacy can occur individually, collectively, or as a combination of both. Although some advocacy efforts are more successful than others, it is the process of advocacy and the voices behind it which matter most. Oftentimes, advocacy can seem daunting or appear as just another item on your to-do list. However, I challenge you to look at it through a different lens. Ashley Dunkerley

When we care deeply about something, our passions shine through in even the most casual situations. Even the smallest actions to promote our passions, which usually come naturally, can be advocacy at its most natural form. When you post on social media about a student who accomplished something you are proud of, or when you let your administration know another group of kids have passed their certification test, these simple actions are advocacy. Your stories matter. Our stories matter. This magazine was initially created as a tool to tell those stories. Our agricultural science education and Texas FFA stories. For each issue, we do our best to fill these pages with relevant and informative articles to help you grow professionally as agriculture educators, but also provide content that highlights outstanding programs across the state. This publication is a tangible piece of advocacy that can be shared with colleagues, supporters, administrators, and so many more. In this issue, you will find articles and features discussing and highlighting various forms of advocacy in our community. Ag education is important, so we are here to help tell our story. We hope you enjoy the Spring 2021 issue of Growing Our Future!

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B Y: A N G E L I C A A L DA N A T E X A S F FA A S S O C I AT I O N L E A D E R S H I P D E V E L O P M E N T C O O R D I N AT O R

STANDING FOR A CAUSE IN THE BLUE JACKET

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s we enter through the historic walls of pink granite on a late February morning, we can usually find a sea of hundreds of blue jackets. This week in late February celebrates one of our founding fathers’ birthdays, President George Washington. It is also the very week that brings together current FFA members, alumni, advisors and supporters to reflect, advocate, and share about the impact that this blue jacket makes on each person that wears it. In our great state of Texas, National FFA Week is the host of the annual Day at the Capitol experience where FFA members across the state of Texas learn about the legislative process and play a vital role in advocating for Agricultural Education, Career Technical Education (CTE), and current legislation that will impact our classrooms. Although COVID-19 changed how we execute this learning experience in 2021, the Texas FFA State Officers made it a priority to have conversations with legislators and staffers at the Capitol and remained steadfast in the reason why we host Day at the Capitol. With the diligent help of Senator Bryan Hughes, and his dedicated staffers and schedulers, the state officer team engaged in a series of meaningful experiences that left elected officials with positive memories of 3

FFA members. Their week at the Capitol began on February 23rd in the Senate Chamber where Senator Hughes introduced a Senate Resolution to recognize the Texas FFA Association during National FFA Week. This moment was significant, as our state officers were the first group allowed in the Senate Chambers to watch a Senate Session since protocols were in place due to COVID-19. Each Senator with a state officer from their district read the state officer’s biography and shared some words in support of agricultural education and FFA. The Senate Resolution unanimously passed on the floor. After much excitement, the state officer team went straight to work for the next

“THE TEXAS FFA STATE OFFICERS MADE IT A PRIORITY TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH LEGISLATORS AND STAFFERS AT THE CAPITOL AND REMAINED STEADFAST IN THE REASON WHY WE HOST DAY AT THE CAPITOL ACTIVITIES THROUGH THE FFA.”


two days visiting 150 House Representative offices and 31 Senate offices. Each year during Day at the Capitol, state officers visit these offices to drop off informational packets that provide current facts, statistics and information about FFA and agricultural education. This year’s team did just that, speaking with any available legislators and staffers. With the help of Ray Pieniazek, the officers were briefed on current pieces of legislation that impact agricultural education. The officers walked into each office ready to have a conversation about House Bill 434, introduced by Representative Bell, which would add CTE credit as an option as a fine arts credit. Other bills that the officers advocated for in conversation with legislators were House Bill 334, introduced by Representative Gates, that, if passed, would increase direct funding to schools

“AS AGRICULTURAL EDUCATORS WORK TIRELESSLY TO NOT ONLY TEACH, BUT CULTIVATE LEADERS, IT’S EVIDENT THAT THEIR WORK IS SHAPING THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS IN THE CAPITAL CITY AND ACROSS THE ENTIRE STATE OF TEXAS.” from 55% to 90% for CTE programs. The state officers were also able to advocate for these bills in scheduled meetings with their elected officials, during a meeting with members of the Senate Committee on Education, and with Chairman Burns of the House Committee on Agriculture. Their week at the Capitol also included

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time with current Capitol interns that shared their experiences in public service. While reflecting on their experiences, the state officers also shared many accounts of meeting FFA alumni. As agricultural educators work tirelessly to not only teach, but cultivate leaders, it’s evident that their work is shaping the next generation of leaders in the capital city and across the entire state of Texas. One of these very alumnus and leaders serves at the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). Jordan Gregory, Policy Analyst from the Temple FFA Chapter, kindly hosted the state officer team at TDA. This interaction included a tour of the department and an interactive session to learn about what TDA does to support the industry and current issues that are a priority of the department. They were even able to meet


with Commissioner Sider Miller. Carson Davis, Texas FFA Vice President representing Area IX, also served as the chair of the Texas FFA Legislative Experience. He shared that this experience with his teammates made him realize that “Texas legislators truly have agricultural education, and their constituents’ interests at heart.” After advocating for our organization at the Capitol, Carson also recognized the significance of communicating with legislators in order to provide them with people and stories behind the legislation. Watching the Texas FFA state officer team engage in conversations with elected officials, staffers, and leaders of our state reinforced that the work we do in agricultural education holds a depth of meaning and importance that shape the future of our communities, state, and nation. For resources that allow agricultural educators to bring a well-rounded legislative experience into the classroom, visit www.texasffa.org.

“AFTER MUCH EXCITEMENT, THE STATE OFFICER TEAM WENT STRAIGHT TO WORK FOR THE NEXT TWO DAYS VISITING 150 HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE OFFICES AND 31 SENATE OFFICES.”

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SHARING STUDENT’S TIME

TIPS ON COLLABORATING WITH PEERS TO SUCCESSFULLY INVOLVE BUSY STUDENTS IN CHAPTER ACTIVITIES BY: M E L I S S A RO S E N B U S CH F L O R E N C E 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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any times, especially in small schools, students are actively involved in numerous clubs and activities. It’s no surprise some of our more eager students want to participate in all of our FFA events as well as every other athletic and UIL activity offered. This presents an issue, more times than not, on what we can do to ensure our students can participate with both groups. While it is difficult, rearranging practice schedules, shuttling students to and from events, and making sure you always have a well-communicated plan, it is worth it. Our students, yes, OUR students, are band members, athletes, and theater students too. Participation in all of these programs helps shape them into adults who will learn how to juggle work, their childrens’ activities, and run a home in the future. As ag teachers, we have the unique opportunity to establish lasting relationships with students. We spend hours upon hours with students outside of the classroom, 8


traveling to and from livestock shows and contests. Many of them see us more than they do their own parents. They lean on us to be a huge support system, a voice for them. We serve as their advocate to other teachers regarding their grades, the counselor on their schedules, and we become their life coach for pretty much anything they are going through. This is what we do. It’s only natural we go the extra mile to ensure they are able to do everything they want to. It is difficult and does take extra work, but that’s how ag teachers are wired. We put kids first all of the time! So, it's no surprise we are the ones who reach out to coaches, band directors and theater teachers to explore options of how we can help the students do both events. In some schools, this is the norm. I am very happy to say we are blessed at Florence and collaboration with coaches and ag teachers are fluid. But I would be remiss to not admit this is not always the case. What are some strategies that can help? ESTABLISH A SCHEDULE OR CALENDAR

one to swallow at times, but we must be flexible to benefit the most students. Each year you get a new set of students who are doing different activities. Try and work around these schedules as often as you can. For instance, if you traditionally train your meats team in the afternoon, but this year the team consists of two basketball players, one softball player, and a student who works afternoons, consider making things easier on them and switch to morning practice. This is not always possible, but if you can make it work those students will appreciate it so much. OPEN COMMUNICATION

GIVE AND TAKE

It's a two-way street for sure, but work out compromises so if coaches bring students to you from a game or competition one time you offer to do the same the next. Ag teachers are competitive by nature, but remember this isn’t a competition of who gets the kids more. At the end of the day the real win is when we make our students feel valued and important. Go the extra mile so they can be an excellent team member and FLEXIBILITY successful in ALL their activiBe willing to change your sche- ties. dule. Yes, I know this is a hard Do not assume the students are sharing your practice/contest schedule with the other coaches. Many times, if it is shared, the message is ill-represented or miscommunicated completely. You need to be their liaison. Yes, the student should do their part, but it's best if you follow up too. This helps open the line of communication and establish positive relationships with all parties involved.

Devise a schedule for practice and contests early in the season. Get in writing contest dates, departure times, and returns, as well as practice schedules. Make a flyer or a handout and share this with students, coaches, parents, and teachers. We send them out on Remind, post on our Facebook page, hang on bulletin boards, and pass them out to every student. Be as transparent as you can as to the expectations for your team members. 9


BY: T Y L E R M C COY B I R D V I L L E 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

FLORAL DESIGN IN THE CLASSROOM: ADAPTING AND THRIVING

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he COVID-19 pandemic, which no one thought possible, has affected even the strongest of us for a year now. It has made us reevaluate the meaning of the word normal. But there has been one thing that has remained constant... the continued need to educate our youth, grow future leaders, and ensure the workforce of tomorrow. While the virus has impacted the way we do this, every single day teachers wake up ready to take on the challenges and obstacles that they will face. Luckily for those of us who are teaching the future of the floral industry, we have a partner in the trenches to help ease the burdens we are carrying, the Texas State Florist Association. It’s no surprise that learning the art of a hands-on skill, such as floral design, is something that can be challenging even under typical circumstances. Throw in a global pandemic and we are having to totally recreate the wheel in terms of teaching our craft. Whether our schools have students face to face, are strictly virtual, or have a mix of both, we want to make sure our students get the opportunities to learn and practice their floral design skills. Many programs have taken

numerous approaches to achieve this depending on their needs. For my program, we decided that a shotgun approach would best reach most students. This includes at-home arrangements kits, after-hour in-person small group lessons for distant learning students, and alternative assignments that allow students to gain knowledge without having to leave their homes. Our most popular option is the at-home arrangements kits, where students or their families come to pick-up their floral materials from our campus and complete the projects at home with video guidance. Guidance such as live zoom/teams meetings demonstrating and coaching students through their arrangements, prerecorded videos teaching/providing instructions/ completing a demonstration for the students, or my personal favorite, providing students links to TSFA video lessons gratuitously made available to all for free. These were a huge time saver for us and the students enjoyed the detail! As it is with many districts across the state, a lot of focus is put on certifying students and making sure they are college, career, or military ready. For us, that means getting every student we can

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certified in an area. While the knowledge aspect of the floral certification was already available to be completed online, testing for the hands-on component without being at a testing site was not an option. Which was a big concern for many teachers last year when trying to plan the remainder of their spring semester and knowing that travel was out of the picture. To address this TFSA stepped up and demonstrated their level of commitment to the students of Texas with the launch of the new virtual hands-on certification testing platform. They have invested countless dollars in our students and have ensured that we are able to provide this incredible opportunity to our students regardless of any future situation. Our program was excited to work through this new platform and was beyond pleased with the results! It has allowed our students to gain their full level one certification without ever leaving our campus. The system is very user-friendly and easy enough for students to even upload their own photos for grading. Without a doubt, a platform that will be the sole reason thousands of students all across the state will be certified this year and in years to come.


AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE EDUCATION TALKING POINTS FOR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS

2021 TEXAS LEGISLATIVE SESSION Introduce yourself. Include that you are an agricultural science teacher and a constituent. Explain the importance of funding public education. Give reasons why career and technical education is important: Data shows 95% of CTE students graduate from high school while nationally, the average is 85%. 91% of all high school graduates who earned two to three CTE credits in high school enroll in college classes. CTE graduates who pursue careers after high school have similar income opportunities as any other educated group of their peers, and similar rates of pursuing post-secondary education. CTE offers students career readiness training and allows students to gain specific as well as general knowledge skills. Public speaking, communication, citizenship, critical thinking are skills provided in all CTE curriculum. The median annual range for agricultural workers is $66,000 Talk about opportunities for student youth group participation to further develop their abilities. CTE funding should stay at 1.35 weighted funding to make sure technical equipment and supplies can be purchased to provide the learning opportunities for our students. Keeping at least 55% of the weighted funding locked in to directly funding the necessary items for CTE classes is necessary to make sure it is not diverted to other uses in the district. It was at 58% in previous budgets. TRS and Health benefits for Retirees must be fully funded. Emphasize the importance of maintaining cost of living increases and TRS as an entity being fiscally responsible.

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BY: S H A N E C R A F TO N H E N R I E T TA 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

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME THE COMMUNITY IMPACT OF A GREENHOUSE PROGRAM

We have all heard the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” There has never been a more positive affirmation of that fact than building a greenhouse program in your department. This is exactly what we did in Henrietta, small-town America. We are a small 3A school in a north Texas town of fewer than 3,000 people. If a greenhouse and horticulture program will work here, why not in your town? I am not just talking about a fundraiser for your chapter either. Yes, we do very well financially from our greenhouse financially. It is not rocket science that if you can produce plants and sell them cheaper than Walmart, and still make a profit, you are in business. However, funds are not the most valuable reward we get from our greenhouse program.

We started with a small 20 by 48 foot, plastic sheet covered greenhouse first bought back in the late 1980s. Of course, I am much too young to have been teaching then - it was purchased by my eventual teaching partner Tony Dunkerley who is much more seasoned than I. We had to move this small greenhouse on several occasions over the years because it was in the way of other school facilities, like an elementary playground and a baseball field. Finally, the last time we were asked to move it in 1996, I had a class pour a concrete footing around it so it could not be

Public relations and community involvement are the two biggest benefits we have seen from our greenhouse program. We are reaching a group of people in our community and beyond who are not typical supporters of the FFA and our students. I have made many new contacts I would have never had the pleasure of meeting if not for our annual plant sale. They support our sale, but also take a genuine interest in what we are growing and are excited students are fostering an interest in growing things. 12

moved again. It has been there ever since and is still fully functional today, with a few minor improvements over the years. We produced plant sales out of that greenhouse until 2012 when we had finally outgrown it completely. I would have to take half my class in to work and the other half would have to wait outside, switching halfway through class. This was not an ideal situation. Several members of the community saw what we were doing and noticed we would sell out of plants in less than a day. We had built a relationship with


these community members who had really taken an interest in the program. They were always asking what we needed to improve the program, so one day I casually mentioned it sure would be nice to have a bigger greenhouse so we would not run out of plants so fast. It took a couple of years to push it through the school board, but in 2014 we moved into a new, top-of-the-line, 44 by 74-foot greenhouse built right beside the older small one that we still use today.

transplanting, wondering if we were even going to be able to have a plant sale. One of the community members came by and told me they were going to shut the entire town down at midnight because of virus protacol. Not knowing when we would open back up, we made the decision to sell plants that day at six but were told no kids could be involved. Because of the relationships we have built, we had a very successful drivethrough plant sale with the help of 15 community members who up until now had been good None of this would have been customers but now volunteered possible without the community to help fill orders and carry support and relationships we trays to cars. built with those non-traditional supporters, which I firmly Community involvement is the believe are in every community. best public relations tool ag You must pique their interest science teachers have in our and build it. Most importantly, bags of tricks. We must learn call on those people from time we cannot do it all ourselves, to time and keep them involved. and we do not have to. There are people in your community My best example of how who are just looking for the to keep this involvement chance to help with your happened earlier this past program. They may not have year when COVID-19 hit. We an interest in animal SAEs but were already out of school in will get excited about plants April, and I happened to be at and a greenhouse program. Do the greenhouse doing some not be afraid to try something 13

different. When we open the door to the greenhouse in April to sell the kids’ plants, which they have grown themselves, there will be a crowd gathered to support the kids because you let them be involved in what you are teaching. The program will run itself once you get started. You just need to build it, they will come and support you.

“WE ARE REACHING A GROUP OF PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITY AND BEYOND WHO ARE NOT TYPICAL SUPPORTERS OF THE FFA AND OUR STUDENTS. I HAVE MADE MANY NEW CONTACTS I WOULD HAVE NEVER HAD THE PLEASURE OF MEETING IF NOT FOR OUR ANNUAL PLANT SALE.”


AGRICULTURE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION OF TEXAS

SCHOLARSHIP

apply now THE ASSOCIATION OFFERS SCHOLARSHIPS TO MEMBERS' CHILDREN UPON HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION

APPLICATIONS ARE DUE ON OR BEFORE APRIL 1, 2021 VISIT WWW.TEXASAGTEACHERS.ORG FOR MORE INFORMATION

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AG TEACHER SPOTLIGHT

AMY HARTMAN

SCHULENBURG HIGH SCHOOL TENURE: 21 YEARS

WHY DO YOU TEACH AG? My high school ag teacher, Martin Mueck, played a large role in my decision to become an ag teacher, even though it was not my intent when I went to college. After a short time in the ag business department at Texas A&M, I realized it was not where I was meant to be. I found myself in Dr. Chris Townsend's office changing majors, which brought me into Dr. Gary Briers' world. Through conversations with him about my time in FFA during high school, I decided to work towards a second bachelor's degree in agriculture science to become an ag teacher. I have to say it was by far one of the best decisions I've ever made.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FFA MEMORY? There are so many to choose from over the years, but my favorite may be something that kind of just happened. In January 2021, the girl’s basketball team was going to honor the 2020 Ag Advocacy LDE team for winning the state contest. By chance, the team members who were on the 2018 state-winning advocacy team were at the game that evening. The members from the 2018 team presented the 2020 team with their banner since the new banners had not come in yet. What was originally going to be a nice moment to recognize the 2020 team became a special moment between the two teams, especially since there were two sets of sisters on the teams and we were able to get a picture with both teams together.

WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THAT AG EDUCATION IS SO IMPORTANT? Ag education is so important because it helps bridge the gap between producers and consumers. It is important we are able to provide a basic knowledge base to high school students about where their food comes from and how American agriculture provides a safe product for them at a low cost. Beyond the lessons of how the agriculture industry provides for our country and the worlds' population, I believe what we teach in our classes goes beyond. The soft skills we teach our members and students are an invaluable commodity that often is not recognized until they are in college or in the workforce.

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BY: A N N E K I M M E Y C U LT I V AT E A G E N C Y

BE THE VOICE OF AGRICULTURE IN YOUR COMMUNITY

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owe a big part of who I am and many of my experiences to FFA. Like many, this organization has pushed us out of our comfort zone not only as students but also prepares us as adults to wield influence in our communities.

Self-awareness is an essential aspect of our personal growth as well as chapter growth. I vividly remember my agricultural science teacher, Bill Burton, calling me into his office as a sophomore. He often pushed me out of my comfort zone; come to think of it was almost weekly. He sat me down with some of our other chapter officers and told us to start working on a presentation we had been invited to attend and present to the Rotary club the following week. I was terrified. Today, it seems like we have a day or week to celebrate just about anything, and it's only fitting that we celebrate National FFA week each February. During this week, FFA chapters across the country celebrate and share what FFA is and its impact on members every day. It is a great time to join in and raise awareness of the program and advocate for agriculture in our communities. But why stop at just a week in February? Why don't we use our voices to advocate every day? An advocate is defined as a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. You are an advocate, whether you realize it or not. I challenge each chapter in our state to share, connect and ask their local community to become partners with their chapter over the next few months! Now is the perfect time to engage with your communities as the school year winds down!

9 WAYS TO ENGAGE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY

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Connect with and host alumni that live locally at a meeting in-person or virtually. Ask them to talk about how FFA impacted their lives and careers.

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Create a social media campaign spotlighting SAE projects or members. Be consistent in your posting, don't just post during the school year, make sure you post year around.

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3

Reach out to your local civic/agricultural organizations for a presentation. They are always looking for educational programs, and you have a lot to offer! Think Rotary Club, Lions Club. Kiwanis, County Livestock and Farm Bureau boards.

4

Look for a community service project where you can serve your community!

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Don't forget to invite your local politicians (mayor, city council, school board, county commissioners, and judge) to attend your end-of-the-year banquet.

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Talk to your elementary and middle school principals about partnering with your local farm bureau to host youth ag day.

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Look for food recognitions such as National Chocolate Milk Day (September 27) or Beef Month in May, and Dairy month in June – take time to promote agricultural products on your social channels. National Ag Week and Ag Day are celebrated in March, and it is a great time to promote your chapter!

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Create a social channel dedicated to advocating about the impact agriculture has on our daily lives. Think outside the box and promote STEM projects, by-products, horticulture.

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Create a monthly chapter e-newsletter to send out to your community leaders, parents, etc. Use it to spotlight what your chapter is doing and use it as a vehicle to communicate the impact of FFA and agriculture.

I challenge you to think outside the box and become an advocate. You are a part of the agricultural industry. As an industry, we have silently gone about producing items consumers hardly think about when they go to grocery stores, the hardware store, the gas station, or their clothes. It is time for you to be the voice of agriculture.

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KENNETH PARKER

REFLECTS ON FOUR DECADES AS AN AG EDUCATOR IN TEXAS

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or more than 100 years, agricultural science education has been positively impacting students and local communities. Throughout that time, there have been thousands of ag educators who worked tirelessly to advance agricultural science education and the FFA. Many who have dedicated their entire adult lives and careers to students in and out of the classroom. One of those individuals is Mr. Kenneth Parker. HOW DID YOU FIND THE AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE TEACHING PROFESSION? I grew up on a farm and started 4-H at a very young age with the support of great parents and four siblings. This led me to the ag teaching profession. Early in my career, I had great agriculture education mentors and peers like Robert Little at Brenham ISD, Loyal Thomas at Bryan ISD, Eddie Harrison in Washington County, and Charles and Ida Mae Parker who helped me get started. WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THAT AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE EDUCATION IS SO IMPORTANT? As an agricultural science teacher in Fort Bend ISD, I understand how important it is for kids to know where their food and meat come from. It is important for them 18


to support, learn and participate in gaining knowledge of and skills in all aspects of agriculture. I want all of my students to be a part of the entire agriculture process. HOW HAS TEXAS AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE EDUCATION EVOLVED OVER YOUR TENURE AS A TEACHER? In my years as a teacher, I have seen good and bad changes. First, I have had the opportunity to watch great individuals like Fred Mclure and Coby Shorter challenge students and myself to work with all races of people in agriculture. In the past, there were only a few black teachers in the profession. There were only about 20-35 and I had the utmost respect for them. They possessed skills that I wanted to learn. Their style of teaching helped me create the system I use to get my kids to learn. Those teachers knew a vast amount about poultry, cattle, swine, sheep, and goats, but they also knew others would not give them chances to express their skills and knowledge.

tion will continue encouraging all races of people to participate in all aspects of agriculture. All students need to know they are accepted into a program that really cares about them. For example, capturing pictures of diverse students and projects in the agricultural education magazine, or playing more than just country music at state convention sessions, concert, or dance. I have had many students express they feel left out because they do not feel represented. This has to change to make all of our lives better, because representation matters.

I am very lucky to have gained so much knowledge from them. They were excellent. They all had a great deal of self-pride and respect for one another to enhance the skill of teaching and learning. Unfortunately, I can remember a time when DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE some of them lost their jobs as MEMORY FROM YOUR TIME agriculture teachers during inWORKING WITH STUDENTS? tegration. This was very hard on some of them. My most favorite memory as a teacher was trying to win the WHAT DOES TEXAS AGRICULTUArea III leadership contest held RAL SCIENCE EDUCATION NEED at Blinn College. My team plaTO DO TO MEET THE NEEDS OF ced behind Gerald Young two OUR STUDENTS FORWARD? years in a row and the judges informed me we were close, but I hope that the agriculture innot quite good enough to addustry and agricultural educavance to state because we had 19

different types of kids in that contest. My students were very diverse that year. They were good kids, and I made sure they worked well together. To this day, it is still my teaching style to work with ALL students. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A FIRST-YEAR TEACHER? The advice I would give a first-year teacher is to have respect for your students. Do not look at his or her hair, clothing, or outfits. That will change when they learn to respect you as a teacher. Please learn about how some of them have to survive, work with their parents who are busy, and give them a chance to understand what agriculture and agricultural education could do for them. Let them know life is not all about football, basketball, or other sports. It’s about them learning how to respect themselves, and teaching the next generation to gain more from each other as good agriculture students.


BY: L A N I P I E P E R T E X A S F FA N E W S S TA F F

CAMERON YOE FFA MEMBER FINDS PURPOSE IN RADIO BROADCASTING AND PODCASTING

C

ameron Yoe FFA member Kincaid Callahan tion, learned important audio editing techniturned his interest in sports statistics into ques, and scheduled and interviewed guests. a Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) project in agricultural communications. The weekly 30-minute episodes feature interesting people around Milam county. He The high school senior first started his project researches local agribusinesses, as well as as a statistician for the local football team at general ag topics affecting producers in the KMIL 105.1, a local radio station in Cameron, area. Texas, in 2018. “As I move forward in my education and ca“My experiences there jump-started my inte- reer, being able to identify timely and perrest in communications and has been my dri- tinent news will be a marketable skill,” said ving force in my pursuit of a career in sports Callahan. broadcasting,” said Callahan. Callahan said the behind-the-scenes work Throughout his tenure at the station, Callahan was some of the most fun and challenging lined up shows, wrote news articles, and ser- parts of the experience. It took a month of ved as an interim host of a sports talk show. He solid planning and networking in order to get developed skills in public speaking and sound the pilot released on streaming platforms. mixing to equip himself for future endeavors. “I learned several things from that experienWith his skills and experience from the station, ce, but I’d say the most important thing I Callahan was inspired to start a podcast of his learned was how to network with other peoown. ple,” said Callahan. “Back in January 2020, I decided to work on my skills in developing projects from the ground up and established a [podcast] show called Monday in Milam,” said Callahan. He purchased and set up hardware for produc20

In addition to discovering a new passion, the success of Callahan’s project was recognized as the 2020 Texas FFA proficiency winner in Agriculture Communications.


WHAT DO TEXAS AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS TEACH? OVER 2,300 AGRICULTURAL EDUCATORS TEACH THE AGRICULTURE, FOOD, AND NATURAL RESOURCES CAREER CLUSTER STANDARDS COVERING MORE THAN 49 COURSES AND LABS STATE SO THAT MORE THAN 214,000 STUDENTS CAN GAIN AN IN-DEPTH UNDERSTANDING OF THE DIFFERENT SECTORS OF THE AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY.

TEXAS AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION PATHWAYS Percent of students who participate in each education pathway:

25% 1%

iples of AF inc NR r P

7% 1%

24% r o d u c to r y C l

ass

pecific Pathw n-S a o N

ys

Int

4%

16%

22%

UNIVERSIT Y LEADERS SAY TEXAS FFA STUDENTS ARE: 1.5 times more prepared than their peers 1.6 times more valuable than athletic students when recruiting 1.13 times more valuable than National Honor Society students when recruiting FOOTNOTE Pathway statistics acquired from Texas Education Agency data. Universit y statistics obtained via the Texas FFA Foundation Student Success Repor t (available at TexasFFA.org).

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AG TEACHER SPOTLIGHT

CHRISTY TOBOLA BELLVILLE HIGH SCHOOL TENURE: 8 YEARS

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FFA MEMORY? My favorite FFA memory is when my ag sales team won the national competition. Like most national qualifiers, we spent months studying and preparing. One of our students decided not to return for the competition which tasked us with training a new student and getting them ready. Our expectation was to do our best, learn from the competition, and be happy and excited to be there. Towards the end of the awards banquet, we realized our team had not been recognized yet. We thought they had forgotten to call us for one of the lower ratings. I will never forget them announcing Bellville as the champions. More importantly, I will never forget the reactions of my students. Their joy, excitement, and pride are why we all push our students to be their best. The student we added to our team ended up being the overall high individual of the contest. It was truly the greatest moment of my career thus far and definitely my favorite FFA memory.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CLASSROOM MEMORY? In my first year, I taught a veterinary technology class with only about 10 students. They were all non-traditional ag students who had been placed in the class to fill their schedules. Since they had so little background in agriculture, they were a fun group to teach. On one occasion, I was given a few turkeys which needed to be processed and thought it would be a good learning experience to give a processing lesson. They were not thrilled with the smells or pulling out viscera, but overall they seemed to have fun and enjoy it. It truly was a memorable experience I will never forget, and one I hope they will never forget either.

WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THAT AG EDUCATION IS SO IMPORTANT? Agriculture can be tied to almost anything and, to me, it is important for future generations to realize this. Through our classes, students learn the basics of the agricultural industry and begin to develop their own passions for agriculture. We cannot live without it and the more we share that knowledge with others the better things will be for all of us.

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Agr

icul

ture

Tea che rs A s

soc

iati

on o

f Te

xas

Teach Ag Tips SOCIAL MEDIA

BY: RAY PIENIAZEK, ATAT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

1. Apply a “good judgment” test for everything you post, including items you like or mark as favorites. 2. If you manage an FFA account and have a personal account, know which account you are posting to and commenting from. Make sure you toggle between them when posting personal items. 3. Make sure what you are posting on behalf of your FFA chapter or school district has been approved by your administration. Follow all district guidelines related to posting. 4. Only post student’s pictures on your FFA or personal accounts with permission. Follow the guidance of what your school district social media policy is. 5. Everything posted on a website or social media channel will become a permanent electronic record. It is highly likely someone will or has already screenshotted something you posted if they do not like it. 6. Be careful of having parents and students as friends on your personal social media accounts. Your district may limit social media communication with your students - make sure you follow those guidelines. 7. Show respect, proper decorum, and honesty toward all in your posts. 8. Follow standards of ethical behavior regarding the use of copyrighted material. Include proper attribution for previously published material. 9. Review the materials you are posting, reposting, or sharing. Evaluate if it is from a valid source and is accurate. 10. Post items which promote a positive image of agriculture, public education, FFA, the organizations you are a member of. 11. Pay close attention to what is in the background of your photos. Does it portray your students and your school in a positive manner. 23


TEXAS TEAM AG ED

STAFF STAFF SPOTLIGHT SPOTLIGHT ANGELICA ALDANA

WHAT ARE YOUR JOB RESPONSIBILITIES? My role involves leading the state officer team through their year of service and planning and executing leadership development experiences for all Texas FFA members. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB? I firmly believe that leadership is a disposition of every student. Watching students realize this and grow into their potential through our leadership experiences is my favorite part of this role! WHY DO YOU THINK AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT? I'm a product of agricultural education. It completely changed the course of my life for the better and made me realize that there is a greater responsibility to serve others and solve problems no matter where I go in this life. It creates a home for every student.

JOB TENURE: 2 YEARS JOB TITLE: LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR EMPLOYER: TEXAS FFA ASSOCIATION

WHEN TALKING DIRECTLY TO OUR ADVISORS, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY TO THEM? I will never claim to know firsthand the challenges that you've faced this past year. But I do know that you matter. Your work matters. The lessons and experiences that students carry into their adult life start in the classroom with their ag advisors. Hold on to this. We couldn't do this without you and we are so grateful for your tireless work in advancing our mission and making a difference in these students' lives.

TORI ROSSER WHAT ARE YOUR JOB RESPONSIBILITIES? I coordinate the association’s New Teacher Mentor Program, manage the association’s awards process, and beginning this year, I will coordinate the conference workshop selection and scheduling process in collaboration with AM Planning. I also coordinate and manage the ATAT conference and FFA convention exhibit halls. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB? I love that, through my work on the mentor program, I get to make a positive impact on both new ag teachers and their students. WHY DO YOU THINK AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT? Ag ed provides important opportunities for students to learn real-world skills and begin applying them. While students may enroll in an ag ed class to learn about the stereotypical "cows, plows, and sows," skills like budgeting, public speaking, interviewing, and even running meetings according to parliamentary procedures are invaluable as they enter the workforce.

JOB TENURE: 3 YEARS JOB TITLE: SPECIAL PROJECTS COORDINATOR EMPLOYER: AGRICULTURE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION OF TEXAS

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JOANNE SHELTON WHAT ARE YOUR JOB RESPONSIBILITIES? My primary responsibilities are to support the executive director and the board of directors, manage donor and sponsor relations, disburse academic and award scholarships and act as the foundation’s finance coordinator. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB? I’m lucky to have a position that changes based on what time of the year it is. When I’m processing scholarship disbursements it’s inspiring to read all the letters from the scholars and hear how they have excelled along with how grateful they are for the donor support. During the convention, it’s powerful to meet so many Texas FFA students and get the chance to see them in action as Foundation Ambassadors. I’m always amazed and leave with a feeling that the world will be in good hands. I’m fortunate to have a job that I get to be surrounded by so many positive people. WHY DO YOU THINK AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT?

JOB TENURE: 11 YEARS JOB TITLE: EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT / SCHOLARSHIP ADMINISTRATOR EMPLOYER: TEXAS FFA FOUNDATION

When I began over 10 years ago I didn’t have a reference to FFA or think at all about ag ed. I am disappointed that my children were not in agricultural education and if I had to do it again that would change. I see firsthand from scholarship recipients and ambassadors that are equipped with life skills, responsibility, and passion that prepare them to succeed in whatever career they choose. It’s so much more than just agriculture education. WHEN TALKING DIRECTLY TO OUR ADVISORS, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY TO THEM? Thank You! There wouldn’t be FFA or agricultural education without them. I have been fortunate to get to know many who have participated in the Foundation’s LEAD Experience and during conventions. Seeing how dedicated they are to their profession and especially their students is always inspiring. We can never have too many people that love our kids this way.

RETIREMENT RETIREMENT ROSARIO RODRIGUEZ IS RETIRING Rosario Rodriguez who has served the VATAT Credit Union as President and CEO for the past 20 years is retiring as of April 30, 2021. We would like to thank her for hard work and dedication to all the members of the credit union. The VATAT Credit Union is financially sound with almost seven million dollars in assets and loans. Rosario has a wealth of knowledge and experience that has helped the credit union provide loans and personalized services to our members. Thank you Rosario for all that you have done for the members of the credit union. If you would like to participate, we are gathering cards, notes, or other sentiments of appreciation from members, past and present, to surprise her with on her last day. Please send your correspondence to VATAT Credit Union, 614 E. 12th Street Austin, TX 78701, include “Attention Meredith Hartmann” to help with keeping this a surprise for Rosario. JOB TENURE: 20 YEARS

If you have any questions email meredith@vatatcu.org.

JOB TITLE: PRESIDENT AND CEO EMPLOYER: VATAT CREDIT UNION

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BY: R YA N P I E N I A Z E K 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 K R U M 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

SNOW, COVID-19 AND COMMUNITY I have always been proud of being a graduate and former FFA member of East Central High School. The influence Mr. Dennis Ellelebracht and Mr. Glen Rode had on me is immeasurable. These two men gave their time and energy to their students ensuring generations of students experienced success on many levels. I am forever grateful for the difference they made in my life and for helping shape the person I am today. They were a large part of our community and made a major impact on the families and students. As I think back to the community I grew up in it is a little confusing. East Central had a San Antonio address, but was far from being in San Antonio. I had an Adkins mailing address, but Adkins wasn’t really a town. Our local volunteer fire department was in Lone Oak and we went to church in St. Hedwig. I am proud to call all these places home and recognize them as the whole community that shaped me into the person I am today. While each of us comes from a community that looks diffe-

rent from the one just down the road, without question each of us had a community and an ag teacher who made you who you are today. Most of the time we do not even realize everything happening in our communities and the difference it is making in the lives of the people within it. This past couple of weeks were nothing out of ordinary when we look back to the challenges our communities have faced over the last year. The week of February 15th brought a winter storm to all of Texas. For most of us, it was unlike anything that we have experienced before. During this time I watched my community come together to help ensure our school barn and livestock were kept warm and healthy as parents jumped in to lend a hand during a time of need. The same scenario played out across Texas as people throughout the state opened up their barns to lend a hand to exhibitors who were stuck on the road and in need of a place to keep their animals while roads cleared and exhibitors were able to make their way back to their homes and communities. Once again our ag community 26

stepped up. As the weather calmed, my family experienced COVID - 19 as my wife and I both fell ill to the virus. Luckily, at the first sign of us feeling ill our children were able to go be with their grandparents for a safe place to stay. This could not have happened at a more inconvenient time. We had swine and steer projects which needed to be clipped and hauled to San Antonio and I was laid up sick in bed. Thanks to my teaching partners, parents, and family friends our projects were cared for, made show ready, transported to the

“WHILE EACH OF US COMES FROM A COMMUNITY THAT LOOKS DIFFERENT FROM THE ONE JUST DOWN THE ROAD, WITHOUT QUESTION EACH OF US HAD A COMMUNITY AND AN AG TEACHER WHO MADE YOU WHO YOU ARE TODAY.”


show and shown. It was very difficult sitting at home while my students were at the show. Although I was able to watch online, our students would not have been able to compete had our ag community not stepped up once again. The spring brings many activities to our program. As we wrap up livestock shows, train CDE teams, complete advanced awards and degrees, and plan our chapter banquets I challenge you to remember your community. Never fail to recognize the community members who help make your program what it is. Don’t forget to

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 A L S C I E N C E & TECHNOLOGY NEWS

THINKING

OF THE

PAST

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“WHILE IT IS CRUCIAL TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR PROGRAM BY RECOGNIZING THE SUCCESS AND EXPERIENCE OF YOUR MEMBERS IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR PROGRAM BY INCLUDING YOUR COMMUNITY AND THANKING THEM FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO YOUR PROGRAM’S SUCCESS.”

YEARS THE DOINGS AND HAPPENINGS IN YOUR ASSOCIATION From February 1990

thank the parents, community leaders, and businesses which step up to help make your program's activities happen. Additionally, make sure and keep your administrators involved and up to date on what’s going on in your program and remember to recognize and thank them for their support to your local program.

Teacher’s In-Service Workshops and Conference Expanded to Weeklong Format “At the workshop planning meeting in San Angelo in January it was decided to expand the workshops to a two-day format. The Corpus Christi Conference will begin on Monday with two full days of workshops on Wednesday and Thursday.”

While it is crucial to advocate for your program by recognizing the success and experience of your members it is also important to advocate for your program by including your community and thanking them for their contributions to your program’s success. Remember, you and your program are part of a community that stretches beyond your local town or school district. You are part of one of the greatest communities in the state that time and time again steps up to help each other. Be proud of where you and your students come from and be proud of those who make each and everyone of us who we are.

As we plan for the 2021 conference in Corpus Christi, there will be some changes that will be made to the schedule. It is nice to see that our conference planning meeting is still making plans and changes just like in 1990 to have a successful week for our teachers.

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1. © Kubota Tractor Corporation, 2021. Up to 20% off MSRP on select models plus Standard Rate Financing (Promotional Rate Financing not Applicable). KTC reserves the right to cancel this program entirely, modify or amend any aspect at any time without prior notice. Purchase price is eligible for cash or applicable standard rate finance offers. MSRP for base equipment. Excludes dealer delivery, set up, and assembly fees, freight, taxes, and any finance charges. Optional equipment not included. Equipment image shown is for illustration purposes only and may not be base equipment. Please see your dealer for details or KubotaUSA.com. This program applies only to members in good standing with the National Cutting Horse Association and other qualifying national or regional equine organizations. Please see dealer for details. Offer expires 12/31/21. KCDA-14-2021 Texas FFA Print Ad


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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

HOW TO PLAN FOR RETIREMENT PART I

P

art of advocating for yourself is planning for the future. Many of you think you are too far away from retiring to really think about it. However, now is the best time to start planning out your finances for retirement. This is the first of a two part series discussing the topic of the Teacher Retirement System, how it works, and other items you may do to plan for retirement. Although I am not an expert on financial planning, I want to share some options for you to save or invest money for retirement. WHAT IS MY RETIREMENT PLAN? TRS is a pension fund based upon regular payments made during a person's teaching career. The pension is paid monthly from an investment fund to which that person or their employer has contributed. TRS defines their services as “TRS administers a defined benefit retirement plan that is a qualified pension trust under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. The pension trust fund provides service and disability retirement, as well as death and survivor benefits, to eligible Texas public education employees and their beneficiaries.”

You contribute to your TRS fund in addition to the state making a contribution during each month of your employment. During the 2021 school year, you will be contributing 7.7% of your salary while the state is contributing 7.5%.

It is utterly important any mistakes are corrected within 5 years. From the Benefits Handbook, “To receive TRS credit for the service not reflected on your annual statement, you must notify TRS within five years of the end of the school year in which the service was rendered and provide verification of the service in a form prescribed by TRS. Once the service is verified, you may purchase it at actuarial cost at any time prior to your retirement to receive the service credit. If you do not verify the service within the five-year deadline, the service cannot be purchased and will not be creditable.” If you move or have a change of address, make sure you change it with TRS.

One question I often receive is “do stipends and extended days I received count towards it?” Yes! Compensation reported to TRS should reflect any type of monetary benefit you receive including sponsorships, stipends for services rendered, or any other payment not excluded by law. If you leave your district and they pay you for unused local leave, that amount will not be counted in your amount reported to TRS as part of your annual salary. There are some WHEN AM I ELIGIBLE FOR other exclusions which can be RETIREMENT? found on the TRS website. No matter which of the following categories you qualify under, to Each fall you should receive a be eligible to retire and receistatement of what is being re- ve a lifetime monthly annuity ported for you including salary you must have at least 5 years and compensation. You shou- service credit, meet eligibility ld create an account at mytrs, requirements, stop your emlinked off the TRS website. It is ployment, apply to receive retivital you check each year and rement benefits, and complete report by the following May 31 a one month break in service. to have any errors corrected. If There are several categories it is your current district, this our current teachers might fit gives them time to correct it in when looking at retirement. before the next reporting period. Teachers “who became mem30


bers of TRS prior to September 1, 2007, had at least five years of service credit on August 31, 2014, and maintain membership until retirement, the following eligibility requirements must be met to qualify for normal age retirement; either be age 65 with five or more years of service credit, or any combination of age and service totaling 80 with at least five years of service credit.”(TRS website) Teachers “who first became members or returned to membership on or after September 1, 2007, but prior to September 1, 2014, had at least five years of service credit on August 31, 2014, and maintain membership until retirement, the following eligibility requirements must be met to qualify for normal age retire-

“MANY OF YOU THINK YOU ARE TOO FAR AWAY FROM RETIRING TO REALLY THINK ABOUT IT. HOWEVER, NOW IS THE BEST TIME TO START PLANNING OUT YOUR FINANCES FOR RETIREMENT.”

ment with age 65 with five or more years of service credit, or at least age 60, meets the Rule of 80 (combined age and years of service credit equal at least 80), and have at least five years of service credit.” (TRS website) The last group of teachers are ones newest to the profession, including teachers “for whom any of the following apply: first became a member or returned to membership on or after September 1, 2014, (2) had less than five years of service credit on August 31, 2014, or (3) had at least five years of service credit on August 31, 2014, but terminated membership in TRS on or after September 1, 2014, and resumed membership in TRS again at a later date, the following eligibility requirements must be met to qualify for normal age retirement of age 65 with five or more years of service credit, or at least age 62, meet the Rule of 80 (combined age and years of service credit equal at least 80), and have at least five years of service credit. In our next issue we will discuss other parts of TRS including accrued sick leave, your benefits payment from TRS and other options you might consider as ways to save money for retirement.

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AG TEACHER SPOTLIGHT

GINGER HOLTON CISCO HIGH SCHOOL TENURE: 19 YEARS

WHY DO YOU TEACH AG? I have always wanted to be an ag teacher. I can't remember ever wanting to do anything else. My dad, Bob Andrew, taught ag for 49 years, 46 in Valley View where I grew up. I was fortunate to be able to tag along with my dad to all kinds of FFA events and activities. I loved spending time with him, and as I got older, I began to notice the impact he made on students and in our community. I always hoped to have that same influence in my own program and community. I had a very well rounded experience as an FFA member and I know the impact it had on me personally. I truly believe kids are still good and there is something for every student in the FFA program. I believe students can find their place to shine in the FFA. I also feel a responsibility to advocate for the agriculture industry, especially in the day and time in which we live. What better place to promote ag, but in the classroom.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FFA MEMORY? I have millions of memories of student successes and fun both in and out of the classroom. I think one of the happiest days was last year at our local show when we cut the ribbon on our new barn. We had waited for a very long time to build a project center. It snowed that day, but the barn was warm and full of our local FFA and 4-H members, parents, and what seemed like the entire community. People came to enjoy the show, support the kids, and support the program. The project center in my home town was like the hub of the community. That day, ours served the same purpose.

WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THAT AG EDUCATION IS SO IMPORTANT? Now more than ever we have to advocate for our industry. We don't want to lose our way of life as we know it. Kids need support and guidance, and I think we as ag teachers have a great opportunity to not only teach young people about the ag industry and the importance of sustaining it but also to provide a positive influence in the lives of young people.

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BY: AU ST I N L A RG E 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

STORIES WORTH TELLING

L

had previously. My heart broke year? I encourage you to think each time an event had to be differently about what you can canceled or changed in format. share to help demonstrate that the impact of agricultural eduAfter being in the dumps for a cation is timeless and transwhile, I reached out to a dear cends circumstance. friend and colleague in agricultural education, and she posed What new skills have you learthis question to me. “In a year ned, or classroom tools have so wildly different than any you acquired over the last year most of us have experienced in which has made you a more our lifetime, how do we refra- adaptable and effective edume our own expectations, and cator? What membership acthe expectations of others, to tivities have you been able to actually see and celebrate the accomplish that have kept your unique impact agricultural edu- students connected and engacation and the FFA have had ged? What local service initiathis year?” tives have been put into place to serve the unique needs That question was like a sma- of your community during the ck in the face to me. It was a wake-up call that our world, while different, was not com“I ENCOURAGE pletely doom and gloom. There were still remarkable things YOU TO THINK As I take stock of everything happening for students and by DIFFERENTLY ABOUT that has happened over the last students. WHAT YOU CAN 12 months, it’s difficult to not think of everything which has As we think about advoca- SHARE TO HELP been “lost” for our students and ting for our programs moving teachers. Admittedly, I’ve found forward, what will be the hi- DEMONSTRATE it difficult at times to motivate ghlights and data points we THAT THE IMPACT myself, because I lost sight of share? What will stories of the the importance of why we do past year sound like in the ab- OF AGRICULTURAL the work we do. Like so many of sence of livestock shows, com- EDUCATION IS you, my only interactions with petitions, leadership camps, or people were Zoom calls from conventions? What are the sto- TIMELESS AND my home. I wasn’t able to be ries worth telling from our agri- TRANSCENDS in a flow, because my work had cultural education programs to look so different than it ever and FFA chapters over the last CIRCUMSTANCE." ast spring, I shared with you thoughts on how we can tell the incredible story of agricultural education and the FFA. I discussed the idea of advocating locally to build a coalition of supporters and provided data to substantiate the claims that we develop student potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. I was so proud of the idea of equipping our teachers and stakeholders with information to advocate for agricultural education and the FFA and excited for that information to be put to use…and since then our world was plunged into a pandemic which still to this day affects daily operations in schools across the state and nation.

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pandemic? While we may not have the “normal” achievements, awards, or memories from the last year, incredible and meaningful work being done in agricultural education and FFA is still very much alive.

for a MEANINGFUL CAREER in

NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT Responsible land and water use, along with conservation methods, are vital to ensuring the future of natural resources. To help the next generation understand ecology issues and gain experience in the field, Ducks Unlimited has developed the Ecology & Conservation Management Certification.

When I’ve felt down over the last year, I’ve tried to remember a quote from Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers said “when I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.” You, my friends, are the helpers. You are the ones who are making incredible things happen for students, despite the incredible challenges placed in front of you. You are the people who have been making an incredible difference, and you have incredible stories to tell.

The certification verifies individuals’ knowledge and skills in the areas of ecological principles and wildlife management, as well as habitat, forest, grasslands, wetlands and waterfowl conservation and management.

INDUSTRY STANDARDS The certification exam consists of 100 questions and assesses knowledge and skills from the following weighted industry standards:

20 %

Ecological Principles

10% Species Identification

Thank you for the work you’ve done and what you continue to do to help FFA members experience our mission of premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. Your tireless efforts to show up and deliver for your students and communities; and the determination and grit demonstrated by your students prove that there are still stories worth telling.

30% 40 %

Wildlife Conservation & Management Habitat Conservation & Management

“It’s important that students understand not only the conservation and ecology of wildlife and wildlife habitat, but also their personal roles as future stewards.” Mark Horobetz Manager of Youth & Education Programs Ducks Unlimited

LEARN MORE:

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T WAY TO PRED S E B ICT HE your

FUTURE IS TO

CREATE IT — ABRAHAM LINCOLN —

PROUD SUPPORTER OF THE

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TEXAS FFA


TO THE TEXAS AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE EDUCATION FAMILY SPRING 2021 STUDENT TEACHERS

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On Demand

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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

SPEAK UP AND DON’T STINK

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exas is blessed with three vital, and renewable, resources: youth, agriculture, and leadership. Agricultural science education, and the Texas FFA, combine all three to field incredible young leaders today who will become dynamic influencers in the future. Our Texas FFA members are using STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to solve real-world problems. I really enjoy promoting our students, teachers, sponsors, and stakeholders. I am a full-time advocate. In this issue of Growing Our Future, we are taking a deeper dive into the topic of advocacy, so let’s look at the difference in marketing and public relations when it comes to sharing our Texas FFA story. Let’s start with some simple strategies for effective advocacy. BE READY TO SHARE Know what you want to say, why you want to say it, and what supporting information you have that validates your perspective. THEY ARE LOOKING AT YOU

son. Be clear, concise, nice, factual, approachable, and transparent. You may be the only expert in farming, ranching, or food production they have ever met. Make a great impression. BE POSITIVE…RESPOND Some people will be encouraging, others will be negative. Thank those that encourage and be prepared to stay positive in the trenches with those that are negative. Remember when challenged you have the choice to react or respond.

personal brand and agricultural brand focused on what you are hoping to assimilate and steer clear of discussions that take you outside your brand. Stay with the facts, experiences, and best practices that make your testimony powerful and convincing. It is important we know the difference between our marketing and public relations strategies.

Public Relations: The professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company, other organization, or famous Here’s an example to better un- person. derstand the appropriate response. If you go to the doctor Marketing: The action or busiand she gives you medicine and ness of promoting and selling then reports your body is reac- products or services, including ting to the meds … this usually market research and adverticonsidered not good. You want sing. your body to respond to the meds. We want to appropriately The main difference? Marketing respond to negative forces. is focused on promoting and selling a specific product, wheBe confident and stand firm in the truth. Stay focused and positive on what you know and are “WE HAVE A prepared to share. Stick to your talking points. Remain passionaBRAND IN FFA te and smile. STAY IN YOUR LANE AND PROTECT YOUR BRAND

When you interact with the pu- So many issues in today’s cultublic, you are the face of the Texas re/news are tied to social conFFA or agriculture for that per- cerns. Be diligent to keep your

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THAT COMMANDS RESPECT, INVOKES EXCELLENCE, AND ENCOURAGES OPPORTUNITY."


of commerce or other business-to-business organizations. Connecting will give your FFA chapter more visibility in your community. A local FFA chapter as a member of the Chamber of Commerce will draw attention.

“WE HAVE TO SPEAK UP AND SHARE THE GREATNESS OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE EDUCATION AND THE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES THROUGH THE FFA.” reas PR is focused on maintaining a positive reputation for an organization, local FFA chapter, or company as a whole. Since we don’t have marketing or public relations departments at the local FFA chapter level … we have to do both. MARKETING A son wanted to buy his mother the perfect Mother’s Day gift. After strolling the mall, he was headed out when a bird in a pet store caught his eye. It was an African Grey Parrot that had a 1,000-word vocabulary. He thought, “this is the perfect gift.” He had the bird carefully couriered to his mother as the perfect gift to keep her company.

Hold a town hall meeting or talk about an agricultural issue. Establish your chapter’s social media presence. PUBLIC RELATIONS Abraham Lincoln once said, "What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself." Public relations is how we keep a positive image in our local communities. If we don’t brand ourselves in our local communities and maintain the brand, someone will do it for us and we may not like the way they do it. Here are a few tips on local PR. Be a patient storyteller. Tell the right story, at the right time, to the right people. Know the difference between stories and news. Stories have a cascading effect and maintain the necessary elements for driving reader engagement. Great stories are shared. News announcements are fleeting, and at their worst, inconsistent over time. Press do their homework and it’s very easy for them to dismiss “another press release” as noise, versus something of substance that they need to take an interest in, following and sharing with their readers.

After a couple of weeks, he was surprised he had not heard from his mom so he gave her a call. The son asked, “Mom, I just wanted to make sure you received your Mother’s Day gift. What did you think?” The mom replied, “Thank you, son. The bird was perfect and absolutely delicious!” After a long pause, he said, “Mom, that bird was expensive and had a 1,000-word vocabulary! You ate it?!” She said, “Yes, he should have spoken up.” We cannot hide the light of the Texas FFA under a basket. We have to speak up and share the greatness of agricultural science education and the leadership development activities through the FFA. Here are a few tips to market your local FFA chapter. Develop a student, parent, or teacher referral program. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.

Have a call to action. Once you have someone’s attention, how will you keep them engaged? This is crucial. Public relations is not an island. Great PR is woven into the organization from day one. We are part of an extraordinary Texas education experience that is agricultural education. We have a brand in FFA that commands respect, invokes excellence, and encourages opportunity. We are the keepers of the brand. Our job is to steward the brand and leave it better than how it was given to us. We must speak up in sharing our brand and protect it from ever stinking.

Send out a survey to ask how’s the chapter doing?

“OUR JOB IS TO STEWARD THE BRAND AND LEAVE IT BETTER THAN HOW IT WAS GIVEN TO US.”

Make chapter infographics. Join a professional organization. A chamber

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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

TEXAS FFA ALUMNI AND SUPPORTERS

UPDATES "HE'D SAY YOU'VE GOT TO STAND FOR SOMETHING OR YOU'LL FALL FOR ANYTHING YOU'VE GOT TO BE YOUR OWN MAN NOT A PUPPET ON A STRING NEVER COMPROMISE WHAT'S RIGHT AND UPHOLD YOUR FAMILY NAME YOU'VE GOT TO STAND FOR SOMETHING OR YOU'LL FALL FOR ANYTHING" SONGWRITERS: AARON TIPPIN / WILLIAM BROCK / WILLIAM CALHOUN JR. BROCK

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large majority of you reading this article weren’t born when the lyrics above were on the country music airwaves back in 1991. Granted, the saying was used well before it was put to music. Irene Dunn (Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies) used the quote back in 1945 on a popular radio program. An even earlier description of advocacy states “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9

tion. The Texas Alumni Association was chartered in 1971. It has established scholarships and sponsored activities for members each year since. Currently, the Texas FFA Alumni gives out the following monetary contributions: four $500 scholarships; ten $500 local grants, sponsor for the annual Ag Teachers Association conference, and we welcome the retiring state FFA officers with a lifetime FFA alumni membership. The money we give is raised at our Annual Alumni Auction held in conjunction with the Texas FFA Convention. Items such as scales, airline tickets, boots, retreats, FFA memorabilia, outdoor items, and much more are bid on. FFA Alumni Affiliates/Chapters contribute to our auction by entering the Alumni Basket Contest. Rules for the contest can be found on the alumni website.

Is advocacy is more than a CDE contest we train our FFA members in so we can place a banner on the wall? Is it just a script we have members memorize, use their best public speaking voice and impress the judges? Or, do they take these words to heart? My bet is they do take these words inscribed in their minds to heart. Why? Because they are THE GRANT FFA members! They believe. What do you do to get grant moAllow me a little bit of time to ney? How must it be used? Be advocate for the Alumni. First, prepared to answer the following a little history lesson. The first questions: What is your Project? National FFA Alumni Council met What do you want to accomplish? in January 1971. E.C. "Dick" What is your Plan of Action? How Weekley, Texas FFA executive will this project make an impact secretary and advisory coun- on your members and/or procil member, assisted in forming gram? Be prepared to have an the Texas FFA Alumni Associa- estimate of what your project will

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cost. You may be asking yourself how to get free money, and what is the catch? All an FFA chapter has to do to be considered for the awards mentioned above is to have an active local FFA alumni affiliate with a minimum of 10 members paying their annual state and national dues by February 1st, and to have the completed applications turned in to the Texas FFA Alumni Association by the June 1st deadline. Grants and scholarships have been denied because they did not meet the requirements or missed the deadline. I hope you choose to charter a local affiliate/chapter of the FFA Alumni & Supporters Organization as a support group for your FFA chapter.

“THE TEXAS ALUMNI ASSOCIATION WAS CHARTERED IN 1971. IT HAS ESTABLISHED SCHOLARSHIPS AND SPONSORED ACTIVITIES FOR MEMBERS EACH YEAR SINCE.”


AG TEACHER SPOTLIGHT

HUNTER MORGAN PEARLAND HIGH SCHOOL TENURE: 24 YEARS

WHY DO YOU TEACH AG? Agriculture is a noble pursuit. I teach because it gives me an opportunity to show God’s love to a key audience. High school kids are at a turning point in their lives and no better audience to give yourself to and multiply the talent's God gave you. I do believe in the future of agriculture and believe the skills learned and the lessons taught are key to making great humans. The resumes students build and the skill set acquired give them a leg up in this world I enjoy being a small part of that. I teach ag because I know every day my life matters.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FFA MEMORY? Watching kids achieve their dreams is pretty cool. Holding banners at the majors, having success at a state contest, becoming a state officer, each are special moments that are deeply satisfying. But my favorite moments are watching kids who might struggle at times improve. Non-verbal students find their voice because of the therapy found in a show pig. Kids with disabilities discover their abilities bridge gaps they never knew possible because of an SAE or other FFA opportunities. The FFA offers so many unique opportunities that everyone has a place.

WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THAT AG EDUCATION IS SO IMPORTANT? This goes back to why education is important. Education is important because it changes outcomes. It gives students a chance, the ability to change generations opens doors. If you want people to stay impoverished then keep them uneducated. Agriculture education just does a better job of developing the whole child. Gains in confidence, decision making, speaking ability, career certifications and development, and opportunities to experience life combined with knowledge make ag ed unique and effective.

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“Fundraising at its

It is humbling and an honor to work with such a unique group of individuals and be a part of the ATAT. Ag teachers have once again gone above and best” beyond and con�nue to persevere during an ongoing disrup�on to life as we know it.

Our staff at RiverStar Farms takes this opportunity to thank each and every one of you reading this newsle�er. We thank you for your loyalty, support, and most of all your understanding and pa�ence. We con�nue to work with our suppliers to not only provide safe and quality products, but to plan produc�on and prepare for the upcoming summer and fall of 2021. Supply chains are s�ll behind but the outlook is ge�ng be�er day by day. As al always, we strive to improve every aspect of our company and our customer experiences. We are in the process of making slight, needed changes to our popular Mobile Link system to insure that consumers and teachers have a pleasant interac�on and receive products in a �mely manner with accurate records and reports.

“Fundraising at its best”

Products are always at the forefront of our programs and we will be announcing new items and new brochures in the near future. We look forward to seeing you all this summer at the ATAT Conference. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Fresh Fruits | smoked Meats | Gourmet Desserts | Snacks | Beverages WWW.RIVERSTARFARMS.COM | 800-662-8808 | EMAIL: RSFARMS001@AOL.COM 43


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Proud supporter of FFA members

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It is our hope to see all of you in person during the Texas State FFA Convention and Professional Development Conference this summer!

Fresh Country will be offering some fundraising opportunities this Spring semester. Our new Crunchy Cookie program is available as a stand-alone program. This program offers a 40% profit margin and is NON-REFRIGERATED. It can be offered in your community at any time that is convenient for you and your Chapter. Our Signature Collection is also available, but we offer it for delivery only during certain time periods depending on the area of the state so please see Spring Delivery Dates at www.freshcountry.com. PLEASE NOTE: Our Smoked Meats & More program is NOT AVAILABLE FOR SPRING 2021.

Wishing you a great Spring Semester! 44

g • Sin c

Texas Ag Science Teachers,

n isi

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Fund Ra ry

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ACTIVE

MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS

LOBBYIST WORKING FOR INTEREST INVOLVING AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE EDUCATION AND RELATED TEACHERS

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ACCESS TO LEGAL ASSISTANCE

ACCESS TO A $1 MILLION PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE POLICY

YEARLY SUBSCRIPTION TO THE ASSOCIATION’S QUARTERLY MAGAZINE, GROWING OUR FUTURE

ACCESS TO THE ASSOCIATION’S WEBSITE, INCLUDING THE CAREER PAGE

ACCESS TO THE ASSOCIATION’S ONLINE MEMBERSHIP DIRECTORY

ELIGIBILITY TO APPLY FOR THE ASSOCIATION’S STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP (ACTIVE MEMBER’S CHILDREN ONLY)

ELIGIBILITY TO APPLY FOR THE ASSOCIATION’S AWARDS AND RECOGNITION PROGRAM

ELIGIBILITY TO APPLY TO BE A PART OF THE ASSOCIATION’S PROFESSIONAL NEW TEACHER MENTORING PROGRAM

ELIGIBILITY TO PARTAKE IN THE KENNETH HUGHES LIFE INSURANCE PLAN

ACCESS TO THE ASSOCIATION’S AGRICULTURE SCIENCE TEACHERS CRISIS FUND

ACCESS TO THE VATAT CREDIT UNION

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ACCESS TO THE AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION FORD TEXAS FFA LEADERSHIP CENTER FOR MEETINGS OR SMALL GATHERINGS


MAKE YOUR CATALOGS STAND OUT. FOIL STAMPING, EMBOSSING, DIE CUTS, RAISED UV, SOFT TOUCH

Don Denny Cell: 806-789-7713 Office: 806-794-7752 slategroup.com/cattle

Profile for Texas Ag Ed

Growing Our Future: Texas Agricultural Science Education Magazine  

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