January 2019

Page 1

NEWS A Texas Team Ag Ed Publication

January 2019


Tammy Christian, Penelope

As I write this, we are one week from Christmas. It is hard to believe we are at this point again and are half-way through this school year. If you have several years under your belt, congratulations, you are on your way to making another! If you are just finishing your first, second or even third year, congratulations, pat yourself on the back. If you think this semester went fast, hold on, May is will be here before you know it! The VATAT board had our winter meeting in Austin last weekend. It was an important meeting, we interviewed three very qualified candidates for the next Executive Director of the VATAT. I am proud to announce that Ray Pieniazek was selected and accepted the offer. I am excited about the future of VATAT and the Texas Ag Ed family. I am proud for Ray and I feel confident that he will do a great job of leading our organization. Ray will begin July 1st and work with Barney through July and August before taking over. Continuing my journey, I was excited to begin my college experience at Sam Houston. It did not disappoint, I was excited to start focusing on those classes that would make up my major. I fell into the groove pretty quickly, made some friends, got involved and adjusted. I had a high school

friend that was a couple of years older, that was attending Sam Houston that worked at the auction barn in Huntsville, they were needing help and she approached me about going to work there. It was an opportunity to make a little extra cash and I felt like it would be a great experience. As I got acquainted with some of the other students, I realized a number of the females were ag education majors, it definitely started my wheels to turning. If these young ladies were going to be ag teachers, I could too! I started to ask questions and inquire, I learned that I could remain an agribusiness major, and with an extra semester I could get my teaching certificate. On my next trip home I visited with my parents, they thought it was a great idea. In their words, “It was something to fall back on!” So, I headed back to Huntsville and made the necessary adjustments to my degree plan so I could get my teacher certification. As I look back, taking this route, I missed a number of classes that would have been really beneficial. I also remember a conversation I had with a professor in the education department, he asked if I would be getting a certification in anything other than ag, I answered no. His reply, “You really should think about it.” I did my student teaching in

the fall of 1988 at Madisonville High School. About two weeks into student teaching, the superintendent from Penelope High School called. He told me that their ag teacher was leaving in December and they wanted me to apply for the job. I am a firm believer that things have a way of working out for a reason. I never dreamed that there would be an opening mid-year, I was engaged, and would be getting married in April, I viewed this call as a bit of a God send. I applied and was hired to begin teaching in January of 1989…to be continued. Looking to the next semester there are certainly things to begin Continue on page 2


Dear VATAT members


Ray Pieniazek, Incoming VATAT Executive Director

preparing for now, if you have not done so. Now that we have LDEs behind us, it is time to begin preparing and planning for CDEs. It is not too early to begin getting students their study materials. If you have not begun planning, start looking at Judging Card and planning which CDE contests you will attend. These days, some of those contests fill quickly if they place a cap on the number of teams accepted. Look early and prepare. Many districts will begin their district and area officer elections early in the spring, as well as district SDEs. There are a number of schools that have started hosting invitational SDEs. Let’s just say, there is plenty of opportunity to participate in the spring, you don’t have to look too hard to have that opportunity. I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas and some much needed down-time to enjoy your family and friends. Take some time to recharge and rejuvenate as we move into the spring semester, or maybe I should say, spring madness. If you think the fall went by quickly, just wait until the spring. Until next month,have a safe and happy holiday break!

It is with great pleasure that I have accepted the VATAT Board of Directors offer to become the next Executive Director of the Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas. I hope to follow the tremendous example that Barney McClure has set for me for the future. It is my sincere hope that I fulfill all the obligations and duties of the position that I have been selected to. I appreciate all of you who have supported me in my teaching career and hope you will continue to support me in this endeavor. I will call on many of you to help me continue to make the VATAT a strong and vital organization. I hope to lead us into a future that is bright and plentiful in terms of the things our association offers to its members. If you have any ideas that will help keep our organization strong and productive, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to an exciting and productive future. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of such a great organization.


Get Ready for the 86th Texas Legislative Session Barney McClure, VATAT Executive Director On January 8, 2019 the session begins. As usual, each session has its own distinctive personality. Two of the three top decision makers remain, including the Governor and Lt. Governor. One thing that is different this session is that the Governor and Lt. Governor, rather than coming off 20 point victories over democratic opponents, won the general election by about six percentage points, despite outspending their opponents by a wide margin. Dennis Bonnen from Angleton is the presumed speaker following the retirement of former speaker Joe Strauss. All the players are saying the right things, and there is hope for a more harmonious session than the last couple. Deep differences still divide the legislature, so how harmonious remains to be seen. In the last session, republicans outnumbered democrats 95-55. In the last election, twelve total seats flipped. The ratio is now 83-67. This will also likely change the dynamics of the session. The Senate is still firmly controlled by the republican majority.

Everyone says the two priorities to be dealt with are property tax reform and public school finance. You can’t fix one without the other. The state’s share of the public school dollar has decreased substantially over the last forty years, which has led to local district’s increasing taxes. While neither of these issues may be directly tied to CTE, I believe whatever is done will have an effect. There will be a great deal of drama between now and the end of the session on May 27, 2019. I plan on sending an update out every couple of weeks during the session. I don’t claim to know how this will play out, but the quality of agricultural education is on our side.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE VATAT.......................................1 - 4 Texas FFA....................................5 Foundation...............................7 Young Farmers........................8 - 9


What ag education classes do you teach? Floral Design; Advanced Plant and Soil Science; Horticulture Science Why do you teach ag? I come from a farming and ranching background, so I’ve always been around agriculture. I think it’s vital to everyone’s existence and it’s important to inform everyone about where things come from.

What’S your favorite classroom memory? I have been sent messages many times from past students regarding how the things I taught them became useful in their lives. Knowing I made this impact gives me great joy and makes me want to continue teaching. What is your favorite FFA memory? One year my public relations LDE team advanced to the state contest and it snowed in Huntsville. Being from south Texas, snow isn’t something we get to see very often. We loved the chance to compete at the state level and getting to play in the snow after our competition.


What advice would you give a first-year teacher? Being an effective teacher isn’t easy, and if it is, you’re either doing it wrong or are mistaken about being effective. It takes more hard work and dedication than you can imagine. It doesn’t get easier as time goes on, you just learn how to balance it all. Why do you believe that ag education is so important? Not only do I feel as though ag education is important because of the curriculum taught, but I also strongly believe that each student can find a place that fits them. Everyone needs to know where their food and clothing comes from, but they also need basic skills to maintain equipment in their homes, keep a pet healthy, or communicate with one another in a work environment. Ag classes teach all of these vital skills that everyone needs to be successful in life.

Do you have advice on balancing work/ home life? Take care of yourself and your loved ones first. If you are worried about those things you can never fully focus on the job at hand. I also am very fortunate to work at a district that allows me to include my family in our events. My family is welcomed at meetings and functions and are appreciated by my students and their families.

UPDATE LDE Service Project Impacts City Texas FFA News

Texas FFA chapters collected more than $7,200 worth of coats intended for children in the Huntsville community, the host city of the 2018 State Leadership Development Events (LDEs). “The greatest way we can impact the world is by providing for the future,” said Ashlie Thompson, Texas FFA Vice President. “Our team decided we would conduct a multi-tier project; the coat drive in Huntsville was the first portion of the plan.” The 2018-2019 Texas FFA Officers set a goal to coordinate a three-tier community service project, titled “Believe in the Future,” that will take place at three events throughout the year: the State LDE Contest, State Leadership Conference, and State Convention. At the state contest, members were asked to bring the donations to the contest. Coats of all sizes and variety were contributed. “Collectively, we donated 360 coats to give to children in need,” said Thompson. All the donations were delivered to the Good Shepherd Mission in Huntsville, Texas. “Community service provides a great learning



experience for students where they are able to learn about humility, selflessness and caring for those around them,” said Thompson. “I believe it is crucial that members participate in community service because it is our duty as citizens to better the world around us.”


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



UPDATE Now…What Do You Do Again?

Aaron Alejandro, Texas FFA Foundation Executive Director “Explain to me again exactly what it is the Foundation does?” A common question among Texas agricultural science teachers and one I’ve been answering for almost 19 years. I wished more teachers could see “behind the scenes” regarding the goals, strategies and efforts of the Foundation. Many view the Foundation as the “fundraiser” for the Texas FFA, and we are, but we are much more. Teachers, sponsors and individuals alike are surprised to learn of the many ways the Foundation is engaged for a stronger Texas agricultural science education and FFA program. Development is our focus and it includes “fundraising,” it is also about building professional networks and opportunities our students and teachers can connect. Securing a sound financial future for Texas Team Ag Ed efforts is not a sole function of the Texas FFA Foundation – it is all our responsibility. The Foundation is involved in key strategies for the development of financial resources, collaborations and sponsorship relations which strengthen our position on the youth development landscape. The Foundation is about strategic alliances benefitting the whole. Here’s some specific ways we are engaged to be of assistance: Financial Development. As agricultural science education and Texas FFA grow, so do our needs for capital for student and teacher opportunities. Our goal is to raise funds in excess of our annual budget to create a financially secure program in perpetuity. The Foundation’s corporate and convention sponsors, along with individual gifts, are our common methods used to reach our goals. Strategic Alliance Development. The Foundation works progressively to engage all members of the Texas agricultural education and Texas FFA affiliate organizations. The result of this effort is a seamless message that will be heard more clearly, and understood, by those watching our programs. We enjoy engaging leaders within our sponsorship ranks so they can lend us their professional insights into improving,

developing and promoting our vision. If you want to be the best, train with the best. We are bringing some of the brightest minds and best practices to our fingertips. Cutting Edge and Innovative Promotions. The Foundation has played a key role in the progression of agricultural science and the Texas FFA program in a technology driven business and communication environment. The Foundation’s vision of chapter websites, and the innovative MYTEXASFFA.ORG website and mobile app are recognized by our corporate peers and fellow state leadership as innovative and best practice. Leading edge technologies empower us with marketable skills in a global economy while providing a front seat to modern communication. Advocacy Development. The Foundation works diligently to engage professional networks beyond our traditional ranks of supporters and advocates. Credible voices in a non-agricultural world lend value and thirdparty endorsement to our classroom and FFA program efforts. Our students are connecting STEM to the real world and our advocacy efforts are helping our students be ready for tomorrow…today. Transparency. We invite all teacher agricultural science teachers, student members or other stakeholders to join us for any our board of director meetings. We make our annual strategic plan available to all teachers. We are always just a phone call away to help with local development efforts, presentations or general program advocacy. We want to see our teachers and student succeed. “Explain to me again exactly what it is the Foundation does?” I hope this helps It is a pleasure to serve and it is a labor of love. Students and teachers are becoming more and more engaged in asking, “What can I do to help the Foundation.” Helping the Foundation is not just about helping raise money, it is about serving, leadership, stewardship and legacy. We are working hard to provide expanded opportunities for students, teachers and sponsors today while ensuring a secure program and opportunities for tomorrow. 7

UPDATE Notes From


Executive Secretary

Bob Young, Texas Young Farmers Executive Secretary I, as all of us who receive the VATAT Newsletter, am fortunate to be able to participate in many events, projects, and activities that enhance my overall agricultural experiences and strengthen my entire outlook on life in general. We can all say that we have a special appreciation for the people who work hard to provide opportunities for us. Regardless of our particular chosen profession, we all should aspire to use these opportunities and strive to learn more, accomplish more, and share what we gain through them with others. Just imagine what agriculture (or anything else, for that matter) would be like if there were, for example, no continuing education seminars, no contests in which to participate, no organized curriculum of study or program of work, or even no rewards system for our efforts. The point is, somebody put forth the extra effort to make these activities possible. And then somebody took advantage of these opportunities and did what they could to make things even better. We have so many professionals who are willing to do the “extra” work that it requires to put these things into action. That is what makes our agricultural world so great. One of the most educational, enjoyable, and motivational events that is provided to Young Farmers across our nation is the annual National Young Farmers Educational Association (NYFEA) institute. The 52nd Institute was held in Rogers, Arkansas, on December 12-15, 2018. This is our National Convention, so to speak, but it is so much more than that. It is the opportunity to network with people from all over the United States about agricultural issues, trends, practices, innovations, successes, and, yes, even failures in our varying agricultural worlds. The only negative aspect of the Institute was the fact that attendance could have been much greater. Texas Young Farmers, however, was very well represented with twenty-four members in attendance from the Limestone 8

County, Schulenburg, Gonzales, Fairfield, Teague, and San Saba chapters. We had two full days of tours and they were excellent. The business sessions, officer elections, guest speakers, and entertainment were great as well. Of course, there is the Executive VicePresident of NYFEA, Gordon Stone, and the National Officer Team and Board of Directors who literally work all year in preparation for the annual Institute. It was well organized, informative, and fun. As always, the food was very, very good. Special emphasis of the Institute is placed upon encouraging young adults to take interest in, not only agriculture, but also agricultural leadership and responsibility. So, NYFEA sponsors the Agricultural Communications Contest which is conducted during the Institute. It provides contestants the opportunities to develop the skills for sharing the message of agriculture with the rest of the nation and to refine their skills as a responder. Writing skills, communication in prepared speaking, social media posts, and recruitment activities are all significant areas of the contest. Twenty-two contestants were entered, including our own Roy Ward, Limestone County Young Farmer, Young Farmer State VP, and a Senior at Texas A&M University. Roy did an outstanding job of representing Texas, as he earned 1st Place in the contest. This is a tremendous honor and accomplishment for any young agriculturist. He proved that he is prepared to accept the responsibilities of telling the story of agriculture in the most effective methods. We are all extremely proud of Roy. His accomplishment earned him a trip to the Agriculture’s Promise Program in Washington, D.C., on March 3-5, 2019. He and other participants will have the opportunity to discuss agricultural issues affecting our nation and the world, to hear USDA and industry leaders’ updates, and to meet with Senators and Congressmen on Capitol Hill. All activities focus

on training and encouraging the next generation of agriculturists to “tell the story.” Congratulations, Roy! By the time you receive this newsletter, the Texas Young Farmers State Convention, in Temple, January 10-12, will have been completed. It is planned to accomplish many of the same goals as the National Institute and to recognize chapter and individual achievements throughout the state. We will have a full report in the next newsletter. Young Farmer Chapters, if you have not yet submitted your rosters and state dues, please do so as soon as possible. Please inform me of your meeting dates and of any special event(s) that your chapter sponsors. I want to visit as many chapters as I can. Let’s work together to make our organization even stronger. Until next time, think about what Zig Ziglar had to say about SUCCESS, “Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.”

Thank You to Our Texas Young Farmers Sponsors

KOOPMANN CATERING SCHULENBURG, TX 979-561-6272 koopmanncatering@gmail.com

National Young Farmers Educational Association (NYFEA) institute

L to R: Don Beene, Gloria Roach, Allen Koopman, Connie Koopman, Janet Bulger, Ken Bulger, Stephanie Wood, Savannah Bland, Robert Bland, Jackie Casey, Herb Casey, Roy Ward, Ken Hedrick, Joann Hedrick, Charlie Rochester, Bill Ward, Ethel Rochester, Charles Rochester, Clovia Ketchum, Bob Young, Tommy Ketchum, Linda Janacek, Wesley Janacek, (not pictured, Chad Wood).



Fresh Country Supports the

VATAT with a

Annual Donation!

www.FreshCountry.com 11


614 E. 12th Street Austin, Texas 78701

Upcoming Events January



10th - 13th Texas Young Farmers Convention, Temple

1st National Scholarship Online Submission Deadline

1 Spring Texas FFA Roster Deadline

7th Texas FFA Board Meeting, Austin

15th State Officer Nom Com & Adult Consultant Application Deadline

25 Texas FFA Board Meeting, Austin

8th Texas FFA Foundation Board Meeting, Austin

16th - 23rd National FFA Week 19th/21st Texas FFA Day At The Capitol



(512) 472-3128


Officers Tammy Christian, President

Terry Baize, Vice President


Ryan Pieniazek, Secretary/Treasurer

Barney McClure, Executive Director Ashley Dunkerley, Communications Karen Jones, Membership Services Tori Rosser, Special Projects


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