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NEWS A Texas Team Ag Ed Publication

March 2016

Are You Making The Most Of Your Chances? Ray Pieniazek, East Central

The spring semester is in full swing and, if you are like me, it can be difficult to juggle everything. Our time is consumed with instruction, livestock shows, CDEs and speaking events. Additionally, some of you have even identified your next potential district, area or state officer candidate. There is probably one right under your nose just waiting for encouragement to step-up to the challenge. We all know that kid who would make a great officer at another level. Offer that challenge to take a chance at serving the FFA in a higher office. Who knows the next state officer might be sitting in your classroom. At the beginning of the month I had the pleasure of speaking to the student teachers at Texas State University under the supervision of Dr. Morrish. He wanted me to talk to them about training teams. I jumped at that chance because I love coaching CDEs in the spring. It was a small group but it gave me an opportunity to encourage young adults who will be the future of our organization. I spoke about my approach to training teams, which CDEs I prefer and how I encourage team members to grow with each practice and contest. I offered encouragement

and advised them to really shadow their supervising teacher. I also advised them on the importance of absorbing as much as they can from the student teaching experience. A few thought provoking questions were posed, for example what makes teaching worthwhile to me? I spoke of witnessing a kid’s face lightup when they have their name called out at a contest when they doubted they were good enough. In fact, the student that I was referring to was sitting in the room at that time, and I watched their expression transform when they realized I was referring to them. Another thing that keeps me going is when a student tells you that you are their favorite teacher. I hope that each of you have made a connection with a student like that and they share that with you. I also asked the college students why they wanted to teach. Almost every one of them mentioned that they were inspired by a great ag teacher. That should be an inspiration to each of you. Surely there is someone in your classroom you could encourage to teach. There are many of us that are reaching retirement; therefore, we should be looking for excellent

replacements. Take a chance to tell someone that they would make a great teacher. Someday they could be your teaching partner or your replacement. I actually had the pleasure of having a former student of mine as a teaching partner and I also had the privilege to be the teaching partner of my high school ag teacher. Both were great experiences and made me the into a better teacher and FFA advisor. You could be the inspiration for the next generation of teachers. Have a great spring semester, spring break and keep taking chances to inspire your students.


Contracts and Resignations Barney McClure, VATAT Executive Director In most cases teachers are contract employees. At some point prior to beginning work you are asked to sign a document spelling out your responsibilities, salary, and the beginning and ending dates of your employment. You should always keep a copy of the contract you sign. A contract is meant to bind both parties to the terms spelled out. It is a legal document that can only be broken by either party for just cause. This protects you from having to seek employment elsewhere when there are few jobs open, and protects the school district from having to seek a replacement teacher when few are available. I occasionally talk to a teacher who would like to resign in the middle of the contract year. Some even express surprise when their administration is less than pleased the teacher wants out of the contract they signed only months before. If a teacher leaves employment without being released by the district, they will likely have their teaching certificate flagged by S.B.E.C. for up to two years. This makes them basically unemployable by any school district in Texas. Most districts will allow the teacher to leave without penalty only if they can find a suitable replacement. At times this is a tall order.

Other times a teacher signs a contract and later secures another offer. A teacher can resign without penalty if it occurs forty-five days prior to the start of classes. Within that forty-five day period, the rules are the same as if it occurred in the middle of the year. When writing a resignation letter, be sure you date the resignation, and the date you want it to be effective. Usually this is at the end of the contract year. You can briefly state the reason, and express appreciation for the opportunity to teach in that district. Some want to explain the negatives of the job. The truth is that few will see the letter, but if it makes you feel better, go ahead. Although graceful exits are often not possible, it is always better to leave on good terms with your certificate not under a cloud.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE VATAT................................................................1 - 2 Texas FFA..............................................................4 Foundation....................................................7 Texas FFA Alumni................................................8 Young Farmers.............................................10 - 11

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UPDATE 2016 Texas FFA Day at the Texas State Capitol Ashley Dunkerley, Communication Coordinator For one day the Texas State Capitol became a classroom as more than 550 Texas FFA members and agricultural educators visited Austin on Feb. 23rd for the seventh annual Agricultural Education and Texas FFA Day at the Capitol. Since 2010 Texas FFA members have gathered in Austin to celebrate our organization and advocate for the continued support of agricultural education. Throughout the day attendees sat in the Texas House Chamber, walked the Capitol hallways, and saw where history has been made since 1889. The event provides a unique opportunity for high school students to learn from various players in the state’s legislative process. Members and guest enjoyed keynote speeches from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and State Senator Lois Kolkhorst. Students also participated in interactive workshop tours facilitated by individuals involved in numerous aspects of government and policy. A significant part of the FFA experience is preparing students to be engaged citizens and empowering them to be people of influence in our communities. Texas FFA Day at the Capitol is a celebration of more than 85 years of excellence in this organization, but more importantly it is a call to prepare for self-government and leadership. The annual event is a great way for our state leaders to see the true impact of agricultural education and the FFA. It also affords our members the opportunity to see first-hand the legislative process, and how they can affect change in their own communities.


Area Realignment Feedback Commission on Area Realignment The Texas FFA Realignment Commission has posted the preliminary report and has made it available for public comment. The 60-day comment period ends on March 15th. The report contains three different map proposals, with the understanding that each proposal constitutes a rhetorical “what if” question and forms a basis for discussion. It should be understood that the final map proposal will likely be a hybrid of the current proposed maps and possible new proposals which surface as a result of input solicited during the 60-day comment period. The Area Realignment Commission Page can be accessed from the home page of The public comment form does require you to include name, chapter, area and what stakeholder group you represent. Texas FFA will not publish anonymous posts to the system. Please be thoughtful, honest and professional in your remarks. They will become a permanent record in the Texas FFA archives. It is the earnest desire of the board and of the commission to have a robust, vigorous discussion about issues related to area realignment and to provide an open, accessible opportunity for input and the airing of concerns. Furthermore, it is understood that new ideas are likely to be produced by this public process.


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UPDATE Excellence. Setting the Standard. Lead! Aaron Alejandro, Texas FFA Foundation Executive Director What is the goal? To be the best? Set the standard? Lead? Whether our efforts are in the classroom, in business, in policy/governance or FFA activities; what is the goal? Is it to manage, to maintain, to “not rock the boat” or is the goal to grow, to excel and to set the standard. “When you’re green you grow … when you ripe you rot.”

A Goal is a Target That Beckons Personally, I want to see Texas agriculture education and Texas FFA programs set the bar – and set it high. Every state, the national organization, sponsors and stakeholders should look at our Texas Team Ag Ed as “the standard” – this is how to do it right. We are an organization working to be the best by delivering exceptional service, putting out an outstanding product, and are stewards of what we’ve been given. What does it take to lead such a standard of excellence? “Every day we have to compete. Face each day prepared to win. Compete and win the minds of our students, potential sponsors, stakeholders and policy makers. We have to look for “best practices,” technology, ideas and concepts that give us a competitive edge. If our efforts are not geared to being the best, we should adopt a new slogan.” – No Worse than the Competition.

The Texas FFA Foundation has two main strategic priorities: 1) Improve the organizational culture of Texas Team Ag Ed 2) Advocate for agriculture. Meeting the strategic priorities of the Foundation means empowering our teachers with tools to lead, set the standard and compete in the classroom. Our strategies challenge students to engage in the discussion of advocacy and telling our incredible Texas FFA story.

The Foundation is working to provide cutting edge technologies, concepts, ideas and tools to assist teachers, students, parents, sponsors and stakeholders in effectively meeting this challenge; winning; and setting a standard of excellence for agricultural science education. It only takes one – a teacher, student, parent, stakeholder or sponsor to compete. They inspire another … who then inspires another … we improve our culture … we hit the target and we find new ways to stay on top.

Awaken “One man awake awakens another, The second awakens his next door brother. And three awake can rouse the town, And turn the whole place upside down And many awake can cause such a fuss, That it finally awakens the rest of us. One man up with dawn in his eyes, Surely then multiplies.”



UPDATE Attaboy Award Kelly White, Texas FFA Alumni President I am sure that most of you have been given or even presented the “Attaboy Award” at some point in your life. I present this award several times a day during my classes. Let me explain to those of you not familiar with this acclaimed honor. When I have a student that does a good job on a project, an assignment, etc… I will pat them on the back and tell them “Attaboy”. The Texas FFA gives more than “Attaboys”… we give money. The Texas FFA Alumni offers ten $500 grants for chapter affiliates awarded annually. These grants can be for a large variety of projects that may be student oriented, for program improvement or community service. How do you qualify for these grants? The only catch is that this money goes to a local affiliate/chapter that is in good standing with the National FFA Alumni and the State FFA Alumni. This is defined as having at least 10 members who have paid their National FFA Alumni member dues and State FFA Alumni dues. They must have constitution/bylaws in harmony with the State and National FFA Alumni Bylaws and have a council of elected members. Money for projects such as the local support grants, scholarships, support of the Texas FFA, Texas FFA Foundation, and the VATAT Family Night is raised at our Annual Texas FFA Alumni Auction held in conjunction with the State FFA Convention. Major contributors such as McCoy’s, Priefert, Ag Worker’s Insurance, & LaQuinta work with us. Fundraising vendors are also strong supporters of our organization. Our local alumni affiliates contribute items to the auction. They also compete in the Penny-A-Vote Basket Contest. The winner will win a traveling trophy and have those bragging rights when their baskets are auctioned off on Thursday night of the convention. So if you are looking for money or wanting to purchase a squeeze chute, scales, airline tickets, hotel stay, etc… maybe the Texas FFA Alumni is for you. Check us out at 8

for more information. The site is always a work in progress. When was the last time you were given the prestigious award “Attaboy Award”? Well…Allow me to give you one if it has been a long time or if you have never received one. Pat yourself on the back and say these words… Attaboy!

The Texas FFA Alumni is always looking for testimonials regarding the hard work that your local affiliate does for your FFA Chapter. Contact Kelly White via the website to submit your testimonials.




UPDATE Notes From the Executive Secretary Don Beene, Texas Young Farmers Executive Secretary I want to remind everyone that each chapter must adding monetary donations, or sponsoring the file an eCard each year with the IRS. Every January winning prizes, etc. I receive a letter with all of the active chapters listed, There are a lot of different ideas on how to attract however I am having problems this years. There members. Sometimes setting up an informational seem to be 10 active chapters not on the IRS roll, booth at your local stock show may work. Other and it is not easy to get them placed back on the list. times it is addressing the FFA members and their When you receive this newsletter I will be in parents about what your chapter does. To me the Washington DC attending the National Young easiest way to get new members in your chapter is Farmers Ag Promise Program with two of my by simply asking them. Don’t use the same ol’ adage granddaughters. This leadership program primarily of “Do you want to come to a meeting?”. That might targets our youth and we are planning on incorporating scare some off or you might end up with a variety it into our State Convention next January. I am of 100 excuses as to why someone cannot make a hoping my granddaughters will be able to assist us meeting. Instead, ask a prospective member if they with the program at convention, Tanner is a junior would like to help with one of your fundraisers and ag education major at Texas Tech University and explain how and who the funds will be benefitting. McKenna is a freshman elementary education major Even better show them how the funds are being at the University of Arkansas. used. If you are going to ask them to a meeting, Also, I want to remind everyone that the Texas make sure it is a fun meeting, maybe a meet and Young Farmers scholarship application deadline is greet with food and fellowship. April 1, 2016. The process is very easy to complete While stock show season can be a long and due to the resume format. I encourage you to start tiresome four month stretch, it also presents a early and put some though into your application. We great opportunity for your chapter to expand upon will be awarding five $1000 scholarships this year. its membership. As always, if at any time the state Good luck! board can be of assistance with helping you with any matter dealing with the Young Farmers, please feel to contact me either by email at Howdy From Your President or by telephone at (830) 672-2437. I can get you in Robert W. Bland, Texas Young Farmers President contact with a state board member or our Executive Stock show season is upon us. From major stock Secretary, Don Beene. shows to local county fairs, Young Farmer chapters will be out in force supporting the youth of our great state. This allows for a great opportunity to help grow your Young Farmer chapter. I think all chapters, and TEXAS YOUNG FARMERS for the most part all civic organizations, are always SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION trying to grow their chapters or clubs so they can expand the services they provide. Having your local Young Farmer chapter actively helping the youth that participate in stock shows, allows others to see the good in which you are bringing to your community. This could include actually running the stock show,











614 East 12th Street Austin, Texas 78701


Upcoming Events March


1st Spring Membership Deadline

April Continued

1st Swine Tag Orders Begin

15th Texas FFA Convention Media Deadline

1st Texas Young Farmer Scholarship Deadline

29th Texas FFA Foundation Board Meeting, Austin

1st VATAT Scholarship Application Deadline 4th Texas FFA Association Board Meeting, Austin 15th Foundation Ambassador Application Deadline


Office 806.794.7752 | Cell 806.789.7712


(512) 472-3128

Officers Ray Pieniazek, President

Shane Crafton, Vice President

Michael Meadows, Secretary/Treasurer

Staff Barney McClure, Executive Director


Ashley Dunkerley, Communications

Karen Jones, Membership Services

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