NEWS A Texas Team Ag Ed Publication
Terry Baize, Hamilton
At the time this article will be published, District and Area LDE contests will be over. My congratulations to each of you who had teams advance to area and state competition. It takes a lot of hard work from you and your students to compete. I also want to applaud everyone who competed at your district but didn’t advance. Whether your teams advanced or not, LDEs teach valuable skills every participant can use to be successful in any career they enter. As I have done in my previous articles, I’m going to call attention to another mentor who had a great deal of influence on me as I learned how to be an agricultural science teacher. James Bevel taught me the importance of being an advocate for our profession and I had the utmost respect for him. He was constantly promoting our profession and was greatly respected. Mr. Bevel counseled many young ag teachers and was instrumental in their success. He was respected not only by his peers, but also school administrators and I know many of them asked his advice regarding what an outstanding agricultural science and FFA chapter should look like. In a way, James Bevel was a pioneer of our current VATAT mentor program to assist beginning agricultural science teachers. In keeping with Mr. Bevel’s model, I want to encourage each
of you to personally advocate for your program - if you are not promoting your local program, who will? I firmly believe agricultural science programs, along with the FFA, are the most outstanding and beneficial programs any student can participate in. Maybe I am biased, but no other program has what we have to offer to students. Sadly, many students, parents, counselors, and administrators do not know this. Hamilton is a small, rural school located in the heart of a county that relies on agriculture. Agriculture is the largest industry in our county, so it stands to reason everyone knows and understands its importance, right? If you said yes, then you are dead wrong. Even in a rural town like Hamilton, few people understand where food, clothing, and other agricultural products are made. Who is going to promote your program? You. As much as we would like to think everyone knows how good your program is and all of the good things you are doing, the truth is they probably don’t. You must be an advocate and promoter of your program, and that is not a difficult thing to do. One of the best things that we did a few years ago was to start a Hamilton FFA Facebook page. When our students do good things, we post them on the Facebook page. Over the years it has grown to have many followers
and when something is posted, many of them share the post which then reaches even more people. This has been an outstanding way to promote our program with minimal effort. I know many of you already have Facebook pages. If your chapter does not have a Facebook page and you would like to start one, check with your school administrators and find out if there is a policy in your local district regarding social media for school sponsored programs and organizations. Follow school policy and do all you can to publicize your program. Hamilton also has a local newspaper who is very good at publicizing our program. Small Continue on page 2
Notes From the Executive Director Ray Pieniazek, VATAT Executive Director Working effectively as a team in an agriculture science department is a challenge you might face as a teacher. Each one of us has a unique personality; we know what we prefer to do, what we like to do, and what we want to accomplish with our students. Working relationships with your fellow teachers are necessary for the success of the department and the students benefitting from your opportunities. I will be the first to admit the intricacies of teaching partnerships can be challenging. I have gathered some thoughts on working together. 1. It's a Partnership - Doing your share of the workload takes undue burdens off each other and contributes to the success of the group. Some districts have assigned duties for each teacher, but this does not mean you should not offer help when you see the other struggling. Pitch in every chance you can. Keeping the commitments made to completing tasks is vital to reaching the goals set forth. 2. Be Kind to Your Partners - Don’t forget they have feelings too. Sometimes a random act of kindness may be the thing that helps them through the day. Giving them a compliment when they are successful at doing something will help develop a positive bond. A little empathy may make them feel like you are understanding their challenges. 3. Establish How Decisions Will Be Made in the Department - You should have meaningful conversations on the way things need to be handled when problems arise. The burden should be shared when conflicts arise between the department and parents, students, and administrators. 4. Asking Questions - Asking questions of each other shows that you want to understand and build a rapport with your partners. If advice is given, graciously accept it when offered. 5. Use Etiquette in Shared Spaces - Pay attention as to how you respond and handle phone calls, emails and other contact in the presence of your partners. 6. Use Good Judgment with Criticism - If you feel you need to provide feedback to your coworkers, give it so that it has some impact and it is constructive. If you provide ways to make the relationship better, it will go further than just criticism. 7. Communication is Key - If it involves you, it most likely involves the whole department. Unless you are told something by administrators that is not supposed to be shared with the team, it is always a good idea to share. It may prepare them to deal with questions someone outside ofthe department may ask. It also ensures your responses 2
are as a team. 8. Always Be Polite - There may come a time when you must have uncomfortable conversations with your partners. Keep it to the point and keep it respectful. Use “I feel” language and be nonaccusatory with them. If the discussion does not solve the issue, you may have to have a joint meeting with your teaching partner and administrator. If you can solve your problems before it gets to this point, your administrator will appreciate the team solving the issue in a professional fashion. 9. Don’t Gossip - It is always a best practice to keep your problems in house. Sharing with parents, other teachers or staff in public is counterproductive to a positive working environment. 10. Admit When You Make a Mistake - Admit your errors when you have made them and ask for help when you need it. Getting along with your teaching partners can be a challenging process. Remember, your goal is to maximize the impact that your agricultural science department is making on your students. I hope you have a great holiday break and always know you can reach out to us when you need help.
Continued town newspapers are always looking for ways to fill the pages, and they love to showcase local students and their successes. Utilize your local paper. Larger towns and cities may have other media, such as radio and television, that could be used as well. Utilize whatever resources you available to promote your program. As we approach the holiday season, make time to connect and strengthen relations with your family. We spend a lot of time with other people’s kids and it is important to spend time with your own family. Take time to get some rest and get recharged for the mad dash of spring. I have always said that we try to cram a whole year’s worth of activities into four months. Starting the new year rested will be very helpful. In closing, act right, do your job, and have fun! See you next year from the range.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE VATAT.......................................1 - 3 Texas FFA...............................6 - 7 Young Farmers......................10- 11
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What ag education classes do you teach? Principles of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (Middle School Level)
What advice would you give a first-year teacher? It does get easier!
Why do you teach ag? I teach ag because my high school ag teachers made such a huge impact on my life. I have always said if I can impact the life of one student the way my teachers influenced mine, I would be happy. Going into high school I didn't even know what FFA was, but I am so grateful I ended up in an ag class and that my teachers encouraged me to become involved in FFA. If not for Dean Fuchs, John Ford, David Fleming, and Amanda Kacal, who knows where I would be today!
Why do you believe that ag education is so important? Society so far removed from production agriculture that that they often misunderstand and mischaracterize it. I feel it is essential for students to learn where their food comes from and how connected their lives are to agriculture. In addition, the FFA aspect of ag education is so important too. I know personally that my life would look vastly different without it!
Whatâ€™S your favorite classroom memory? That is such a difficult question, so I could never choose just one. I personally just enjoy working with quirky middle school students!
Do you have advice on balancing work/home life? I'll be honest; this is not one of my strong suits. Since I donâ€™t have children of my own, I have often said that, "I'm married to my job and have 175 kids!" However, as I am progressing in my career I am learning. It is important to, as difficult as it may be, go home before the sun sets, leave some weekends open, and make sure to take some time for yourself or your family!
What is your favorite FFA memory? That is another difficult question, but I can narrow this one down to three memories. First would have to be one of my students winning the state Junior Prepared Public Speaking Contest as a 7th grader. Second would be the time I had a student win a $10,000 scholarship from the San Antonio Livestock Show's public speaking contest. Lastly, having a group of four students that I began my wildlife CDE career with as 8th graders place 5th at the state contest their senior year. It is so fulfilling to see students be rewarded for all their hard work. Their efforts being rewarded is the absolute best feeling as an ag teacher!
THIS LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE FOR SENIORS WILL HELP GRADUATING FFA MEMBERS LEARN HOW TO APPLY WHAT THEY HAVE LEARNED IN THE FFA JACKET TO THEIR POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION OR THE WORKFORCE. EXECUTING WITH EXCELLENCE WILL BE A ONE-DAY EXPERIENCE HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE MADE FOR EXCELLENCE AND BUILDING EXCELLENCE CONFERENCES. IT'S OPEN TO ALL TEXAS FFA SENIORS.
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY-KINGSVILLE - 12/2/19
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN UNIVERSITY - 01/13/20 ANGELO STATE UNIVERSITY - 11/04/19
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A POST-FFA SPRINGBOARD FOR SENIORS
WEST TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY - 10/21/19
THIS CONFERENCE IS FACILITATED BY ZIGLAR YOUTH CERTIFIED SPEAKERS AND FOCUSES ON SELF-IMAGE, RELATIONSHIP BUILDING, AND GOAL-SETTING. BUILDING EXCELLENCE IS A ONE-DAY EXPERIENCE OPEN TO ALL TEXAS FFA MEMBERS IN THEIR JUNIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL AND WILL BE HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE MADE FOR EXCELLENCE AND EXECUTING WITH EXCELLENCE CONFERENCES.
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MIDWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY - 11/18/19
LEADERSHIP STARTS WITH THE INDIVIDUAL. THIS PROGRAM FOCUSES ON PERSONAL GROWTH AND CAPITALIZES ON THE WISDOM, COURAGE, AND STRENGTH STUDENTS NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL AS INDIVIDUAL LEADERS. MADE FOR EXCELLENCE IS A ONE-DAY EXPERIENCE OPEN TO ALL SOPHOMORE TEXAS FFA MEMBERS AND WILL BE HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE BUILDING EXCELLENCE AND EXECUTING WITH EXCELLENCE CONFERENCES.
PRAIRIE VIEW A&M UNIVERSITY - 10/07/19
A PERSONAL GROWTH EXPERIENCE FOR SOPHOMORES
UPDATE Notes From
Kelly White, Texas FFA Alumni President
“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…” As I write this, the weather doesn’t look that way here in Central Texas, although it is beginning to look this way in the grocery stores, the Department Stores, and advertisements. The countdown to Christmas is on. Bah Humbug! This infamous phrase comes from Charles Dickens’ character Ebenezer Scrooge. In the 1843 Dickens’ novel, “A Christmas Carol”, Ebenezer is a cold-hearted miser who despises Christmas. The tale of his redemption by the three Ghosts of Christmas (Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) has become a traditional tale of the Christmas holiday in the English-speaking world. Scrooge's catchphrase, "Bah, humbug!" is often used to express disgust with many of the modern Christmas traditions. Have you ever experienced this “Bah Humbug” feeling outside of the Christmas Holidays? Perhaps it hit the first day of school when you noticed that the counselor has scheduled 38 students in your Ag Mechanics Class. Perhaps it occurred when that LDE team you had such high hopes of going to state froze up in front of the judges. Or when your wife reminds you that you have to attend a Christmas party when you would rather stay at home watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and cheer on the Grinch. It is a good bet that we have all had these moments. Or, perhaps you equate your life to the classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” featuring Jimmy Stewart. George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all- and it's Christmas! As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence, who shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn't been for all his good deeds over the years. 8
What would some of your students’ lives be like if you weren’t there with your good deeds? A Christmas Tradition around our house is to sing, out loud, the song “Happy Holidays” when we are NOT in the Christmas Spirit. An example is a busy parking lot and another vehicle swipes the parking spot that you had been patiently waiting for, or to the rude person that cuts in front of you as you are waiting in the check-out line. This little burst of mayhem singing of “Happy Holidays” sometimes helps ease the situation. My Christmas wish to you is that we overcome the “Bah Humbugs” and the negative things that can ruin not just our holidays but every day. Scrooge had the redemption of three ghosts, and so do we. Do not dwell on the negative. Enjoy your Christmas Present. Count your blessings and look forward to your Christmas Yet to Come. And not only remember those wonderful memories of Christmases past, but remember the Christmas Past that brought Three Wise Men, not ghosts, to the small stable in Bethlehem that gave the world the best Christmas present we will ever know. From the “White House” of Kelly and Glynda White, Merry Christmas!
Dues Information National FFA Alumni Dues $100 for Affiliation Texas FFA Alumni Dues $100 for Affiliation 10 members constitute an “Active FFA Alumni Affiliate” Rosters are found at FFA.org
DISH is proud to support Texas ag education. Introducing the DISH Ambassador Program, a new way to fundraise for Texas FFA chapters Are you an FFA advisor? Learn how your chapter can participate in the DISH Ambassador Program at dish.com/FFA
FFA and its members are not authorized retailers of DISH products and services, for information on DISH products and services please contact DISH directly. Door-to-door distribution of materials regarding the DISH-FFA program is prohibited. Telephone solicitation in connection with the DISH-FFA program is prohibited. Use of the FFA Name or Mark does not represent an endorsement by FFA of this product or service or an endorsement by FFA of the manufacturer or provider of this product or service. From October 24, 2018 until June 31, 2019, for every new and qualifying former customer that signs up under DISHâ€™s Digital Home Advantage program, FFA will receive $200.00. Restrictions apply. Program not available in AL, HI, IL, MA, MI, SC. See website for details.
WISHING YOU JOY AND HAPPINESS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON AND IN THE COMING YeAR
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614 E. 12th Street Austin, Texas 78701
Upcoming Events December
1 Texas FFA Junior Roster Deadline
9th - 12th Texas Young Farmers Convention, Denton
8 - 9 VATAT Board Meeting
6th Texas FFA Board Meeting, Austin
7 Swine Validation Materials Deadline (Major Shows) 13 - 14 State LDEs
7th Texas FFA Foundation Board Meeting, Austin
17th State Officer Nom Com & Adult Consultant Application Deadline 22nd - 29th National FFA Week 25th & 27st Texas FFA Day at The Capitol
Officers Terry Baize, President
Ryan Pieniazek, Vice President
Traylor Lenz, Secretary/Treasurer
Ray Pieniazek, Executive Director Ashley Dunkerley, Communications Karen Jones, Membership Services Tori Rosser, Special Projects