Note from the Academic Program Leader
by Dr. Brad Greiman, Academic Program Leader
Welcome to the fall/winter edition of The Ag Ed Enthusiast! The goal of this biannual newsletter is to connect students, alumni, and friends with news about the Agricultural Education Program at the University of Minnesota. Many thanks to editor Thomas Liepold, a talented undergraduate student in our major, and Sara Jensen, executive office and administrative specialist, for their efforts in producing this newsletter.
I am continually inspired by the talents and expertise of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Learning about the successful accomplishments and recognition earned by members of the agricultural education program and our community partners is rewarding. I would like to highlight a few of the many successes since our last newsletter.
The Agricultural Education Celebration of Students was held at the end of spring semester. This first-time event provided an opportunity to celebrate accomplishments of the past year. Students were recognized for receiving Ag Ed and MAELC scholarships. Graduating seniors and graduate students received special gifts and Ag Ed Club awards were presented.
Frank Bezdicek (Ag Ed, 1970) was announced as the donor of a new endowed scholarship. Frank’s generosity and support of Ag Ed students is deeply appreciated.
We also congratulated Dr. Roland and Jeri Peterson (pictured on the right) as the inaugural recipients of the Spirit Award. This award embodies the spirit of the Ag Ed program and inspires each of us to make a positive impact with our lives The purpose of the Spirit Award is to recognize individuals who have impacted the success of our students and the Ag Ed program. Thanks, Pete and Jeri!
Thank you for everyone’s positive comments about the Ag Ed Celebration of Students. Everyone is invited to attend the second annual event on May 3, 2015.
The Kahler Outstanding Dissertation Award was announced at the annual meeting of the American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE). The award recognizes a doctoral student who has completed the most outstanding dissertation during the previous calendar year. Each doctoral degree granting institution awarding a Ph.D. or Ed.D. in Agricultural or Extension Education is eligible to submit one outstanding dissertation nominee each year. I am pleased to share with you that Robert Yawson was the Kahler Outstanding Dissertation Award recipient for 2014! Robert (pictured on the left) completed his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development with dual specializations in Agricultural Education and Human Resource Development & Workforce Education. Robert’s dissertation was titled A Systems Approach to Identify Skill Needs for Agrifood Nanotechnology: A Mixed Methods Study. Robert is currently a tenure track Assistant Professor of Management at the Lender School of Business, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut. I had the honor to be Robert’s faculty advisor.
Members of the Ag Ed Club traveled to Louisville, Kentucky in October to attend the Alpha Tau Alpha Annual Conclave. National competition was held in the following contests: Debate, Essay, Parliamentary Procedure, Program of Excellence, and Quiz Bowl (read more about this event - and view photos - by clicking here). The University of Minnesota returned home with two National Championships! Jaclyn Dingels and Sarah Lee were National Champions in the Essay Contest, while Paige Lemke and Katie Winslow were National Champions in Program of Excellence. Jaclyn and Sarah’s essay will be published in the next issue of the Agricultural Education Magazine. The Ag Ed faculty treated team members to breakfast to celebrate their success!
Minnesota was honored November 20 with another championship that was announced during the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) Convention. The Minnesota Teach Ag Day Planning Committee (pictured here) was named one of four Teach Ag Champions for 2014. The Minnesota team helped to facilitate the National Teach Ag Day event held in the Twin Cities metro area on September 24-25, 2014. The event included a stakeholder dialogue, welcome reception, future teacher regional symposium, lunch and live web cast. The team consisted of representatives from CHS, Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators, Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council, Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota FFA, Minnesota FFA Foundation, and the University of Minnesota.
Enjoy this issue as you learn more about the success stories of Agricultural Education!
January 15, 2015
MAELC Scholarship Deadline
MAELC scholarships are for incoming freshmen majoring in Agricultural Education and current students pursuing Agricultural Education teacher licensure. Scholarships are also available for M.Ed. Initial Licensure students at the University of Minnesota (the deadline was November 1, 2014). For more information, go to: http://mn.gov/maelc/scholarships.html
February 21-28, 2015
National FFA Week
FFA Week is an opportunity for FFA members, alumni and sponsors to advocate for agricultural education and FFA. It’s a time to share with local, state and national audiences what FFA is and the impact it has on members every day. For more information, go to: https://www.ffa.org/events/ffaweek/Pages/default.aspx.
March 2, 2015
CFANS Undergraduate Scholarship and Agricultural Education Scholarship Deadlines
Undergraduate students in the Agricultural Education major will use the CFANS application to apply for all scholarships awarded by CFANS and Agricultural Education. A streamlined process, using the same due date and application, should result in more student applications. One application, two scholarship programs! For more information, go to: http://www.cfans.umn.edu/academics/undergrad-resources/cfans-scholarships.
April 26-28, 2015
State FFA Convention
The 86th Minnesota FFA Convention is poised to draw 3,000-plus FFA members, advisors and guests from across the state to our University of Minnesota campuses. Plan now to attend, judge or participate. For more information, go to: http://www.mnffa.org/.
Best of Luck to our 2014-2015 Teacher Candidates!
After the winter break, classes resume and most college students will be back to work as usual. But this spring, St. Paul campus will no longer be “home” for some of our Ag Ed students. Beginning on February 9, 14 Ag Ed students will be scattered throughout Minnesota, fulfilling dreams they've had since embarking on the Teacher Licensure track. These students will be spending their spring semester away from campus, taking the lessons and skills they have learned throughout their degree program and applying them as teacher candidates.
“I couldn't be more excited to take all the skills I've learned in Agricultural Education and apply them back to the classroom. Giving back to the classroom is something I've been dreaming about since the beginning of my days at the University,” said senior Eric Seifert. Eric will be student teaching this spring in Belle Plaine, under the direction of Bruce Mathiowitz, a veteran agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor.
Best of luck to the following Ag Ed students, who will be sharing their knowledge in high school classrooms this spring:
|Teacher Candidate||School (Region)||Cooperating Teacher(s)|
|Nathan Anderson||Sibley East (7)||Jeff Eppen & Tim Uhlenkamp|
|Lisa Busack||Ada-Borup (1)||Nathan Purrington|
|Andrea Clement||Forest Lake (4)||Veronica Ward, Mike Miron & Ann Tauzell|
|Elizabeth Eastep*||Dassel-Cokato (5)||Eric Schwatzke|
|Roger Lamm*||Mabel-Canton (8)|
|Ethan Lapham||Foley (4)||AJ Stemper|
|Sarah Lee||Springfield (6)||T.J. Brown|
|Paige Lemke||Chatfield (8)||Stacy Fritz|
|Lisa Roker||Plaionview-Elgin-Milville (8)||Paul Aarsvold & Steve Hinrichs|
|Chris Seifert||Dover Eyota (8)||Jacob Robinson|
|Eric Seifert||Belle Plaine (7)||Bruce Mathiowetz|
|Chelsea Vilchris||ACGC (5)||Michelle Hansen|
|Hannah Wilts||Upsala (2)||Gretchen Schleper|
|Katie Winslow||New London-Spicer (5)||Jeff Gabrielson & Tracy Tebben|
*indicates Ag Ed M.Ed -Initial Licensure students
National FFA Convention "Goes All Out"
National FFA Convention was held in Louisville, Kentucky from October 29 through November 1, 2014. Nearly 60,000 FFA student members from all 50 states participated in the event. The convention theme was “Go All Out.” Many of our Ag Ed students received their American FFA Degrees, the highest honor award from the organization. A list of names can be found on the National FFA website: https://www.ffa.org/documents/degree_mn.pdf
For our collegiate students in Agricultural Education, participation in the Alpha Tau Alpha Conclave offers an opportunity to engage, compete, and represent the University of Minnesota. The Conclave, held in conjunction with National FFA Convention, involved 17 University of Minnesota students. The students represented us well, participating in five group contests and one individual essay. The ATA Conclave results are below:
The parliamentary procedure team did a great job at this year’s Conclave. Team member Michaela Gallup was the high score individual written parliamentary procedure test - she had a PERFECT score!
Team members: Hannah Wilts, Chelsea Vilchis, Jessica Juncewski, Michaela Gallup and Emma Hoversten.
First place Program of Excellence and fundraising winner at the 2014 ATA Conclave.
Team members: Paige Lemke and Katie Winslow.
Third place debate team at the 2014 ATA Conclave.
Team members: Lisa Roker, Lisa Busack, Vinz Karl and Sarah Lee (not pictured).
First place team essay at the 2014 ATA Conclave.
Team members: Jaclyn Dingels and Sarah Lee (not pictured).
In addition to the team members listed above, Laura McAlister participated in the individual essay, and Andrea Clement, Teal Kampe, Ethan Lapham, and Dan Porter participated in quiz bowl. We are proud of all students who represented the Ag Ed Club at the 2014 Alpha Tau Alpha Conclave!
Global Entrepreneurship & Leadership, Books, and Wine: Studying Abroad in South Africa
by Ellie Bauer, University of Minnesota sophomore
Last January, Dr. Brad Greiman and Dr. Patrick Plonski took 20 University of Minnesota students from the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences, Carlson School of Management, the College of Education and Human Development, and the College of Design to South Africa. The 15-day trip gave students the opportunity to learn about South African agriculture, historical trends which affect agricultural production, and how practices have changed since the end of the apartheid in the 1990s - all while enjoying 80˚ F weather.
Three main themes of the trip included crops, animals, and wine country. Students explored South African crops including citrus, forestry, and sugar cane. Students had the chance to learn more about different technology used in South Africa crop production practices. One example is indoor composting. Leaves and other organic matter from banana and pineapple production and processing were piled in a room with a slanted cement floor. A drip irrigation system flowed water through about three feet of organic matter bringing with it important nutrients. This water filled with crucial nutrients was then collected and used as fertilizer.
Another lesson learned from crop farmers was the concept of social sustainability. One farmer shared his mission of hiring those who had been oppressed during the apartheid. He had good intentions of helping the country return some land to those who were transitioning from being oppressed to again be entrepreneurs and business owners. The farmer picked out a man he would like to give a section of land to because of his work ethic; however, the minister of agriculture ended up giving the land to someone he had a connection to. This favor-run political system is different from our political system and was an eye opener for the students.
Many of the students stated they would like to go back in five years and see what the people they met were doing and how their farms were progressing.
While in South Africa, the group learned about the high school senior who had the top score in an ACT-type exam. This student came from a very poor social economic background, living in a shack, and yet he beat all other students who had attended private school and had tutors and other opportunities he did not. The University of Minnesota students were inspired by his story.
Animals were explored through a wildlife preserve, a game farm, and a safari. When people travel to South Africa, they often want to see the big five: an African lion, an African elephant, a Cape buffalo, an African leopard, and a White or Black rhinoceros. The study abroad group was lucky to see four of the five, including seeing an elephant face-to-face.
Many of the students came to the game farm skeptical of its ethics. While visiting, the group learned about its purpose and history. In the 1930s and 1940s, the government decided to step up their preservation practices because the number of various valued animals were declining. One reason for these declining numbers was a practice of medicine in the Far East which used rhino horns. The game farms were set up to keep out poachers. In a game farm, the old animals who are no longer able to reproduce are then available for those who want a mount of the animal to hang in their business or home. This opened a good debate about the good and bad of keeping these animals on a game farm.
The final leg of the trip was in Cape Town and its wine country. Cape Town’s wine has recently been discovered world-wide. Many countries refused to trade with South Africa while the country was still under apartheid, so the wine did not get very much exposure. The group visited the oldest vineyard in South Africa. The vineyard had documentation of Napoleon Bonaparte importing wine into France, a country known for its wine. A nearby university showed the group the technology used to create wine including research stations devoted hybridization of grapes for wine.
Tips and Tricks to Succeeding in Agricultural Education
by Thomas Liepold, University of Minnesota junior
Being a student in Agricultural Education is an amazing opportunity. Students have many resources at their disposal: the best courses, the finest faculty, advisors to help plan your future and thousands of alumni - ranging from CEOs to senators - eager to guide you along your journey to success. The following is a list of tips and tricks on how to be successful in Agricultural Education at the University of Minnesota (in no particular order). A special thanks to Mary Buschette, CFANS Alumni and Constituent Relations Director, for helping me refine this list of opportunities.
CFANS has a mentor program that pairs up students and professionals. Mentors provide insight to their career field and how they became successful. This program is relevant for all Agricultural Education students who are looking to explore a variety of careers, make new connections, and learn some things about yourself and the real world. To learn more about the mentor program, visit https://www.cfans.umn.edu/alumni-friends/give-volunteer/mentor-program
The University of Minnesota has excellent study abroad programs. Some of these programs are specific to CFANS and allow students to stretch their comfort zone by learning a thing or two about international agriculture. While many programs last for a whole semester, others take place during the J term, May term, or over the summertime. More information about potential study abroad programs can be found here: https://www.cfans.umn.edu/admissions/study-abroad
With thousands of CFANS alumni, there are many opportunities for Agricultural Education students to complete an internship during the summer or school year. Talk with your faculty advistor, as they receive countless emails from big corporations, small family-owned companies and even nonprofit organizations, looking for students to help them out. Students should also be looking for job postings on Goldpass, a database that allows students across the University to connect with alumni and employers with open jobs and internships: https://goldpass.umn.edu. Many internships qualify for credits in AFEE 3096, an internship class taught by Dr. Rebecca Swenson. I recommend taking advantage of as many internship opportunities as possible.
Here on St. Paul campus, you may feel like all the action is happening on East Bank; however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The St. Paul campus is home to tons of student organizations. Get involved in as many of these organizations as possible - it’s a great way to make new friends, meet more faculty members, and explore internship opportunities. A few good ones to try out that are applicable to the Ag Ed major are Ag Ed Club, Gopher Dairy Club, Block and Bridle, and International Ag Club. Visit https://www.cfans.umn.edu/admissions/campus-life/organizations-activities/student-organizations for more.
Classes Outside Your Major
Many students at the University are so in deep to their major-related courses that they forget about a lot of other classes that the University offers. Students should consider using their elective credits to get a minor or a certificate that complements their main area of study: http://z.umn.edu/rst College is also time to take classes that are outside of your comfort zone! Ballroom dancing, golf, and intro to guitar are just a few of the fun possibilities. Remember that any credits after 13 credits is free. So if you’ve got an extra few hours a day and want to pick up a new life skill, now is the time to do it. Who knows? Someday that skill you learned may come in handy.
The Agricultural Education program and the University of Minnesota are home to some of the greatest professors around and many have a genuine passion for helping their students. I recommend getting to know each of your professors. They should all have office hours for their students. Remember that professors make excellent resources. Click here for a list of Ag Ed professors.
Not only do our professors have office hours, but so does University of Minnesota President, Eric Kaler. He sets aside time to hear what the students have to say! CFANS Dean, Dr. Brian Buhr, is another person that every Agricultural Education student must meet as soon as possible. He’s always eager to meet students and get to know people around campus.
Every spring, a fantastic event called MN Royal takes place. It’s a little bit like Spring Jam and Homecoming, but focused on agriculture. Many of the fraternities, sororities and other student organizations on campus partake in MN Royal, making it a great way to become connected. I strongly recommend taking part! Here’s a link to learn more and get involved: https://sua.umn.edu/groups/directory/group/345/
Recreation and Wellness
Studies everywhere are proving that college students are under more stress today than ever before. Stress can lead to a lack of focus, motivation and anxiety. The Mayo Clinic suggests working out and leading a healthy lifestyle as a top way to manage stress. Both St. Paul Gym and the Recreation and Wellness Center in Minneapolis have long hours for your convenience. Take a look at some of the programs that they offer, such as kickboxing, yoga, zoomba, and more.
Conferences and Meetings
The Twin Cities is a hotspot for many commodity groups to have meetings. Groups like Minnesota Dairy, Minnesota Pork Expo, Farmers Union, Farm Bureau, Minnesota Corn Growers, and many others also have large conferences within the area. Many times, the meetings have parts that are open for anyone. These events make good networking events if you’re interested in making friends in high places.
As you can see, Ag Ed students have a wealth of opportunities at their fingertips. With some effort and networking, it’s easy to make the most of your experience at the University of Minnesota.
Ag Ed Student Spotlight: Katie McNab
Katie McNab’s interest in the Agricultural Education major goes back a long way. It all began on her family farm, located outside of Waseca in South Central Minnesota. From a young age, Katie was involved with 4-H and FFA, eventually serving as both a state 4-H ambassador and a state FFA officer. Today, Katie is a senior with a degree in Agricultural Education, Leadership and Communications track. She also has minors in International Agriculture and Animal Science.
Through her college journey, Katie has had some experiences that she values very highly. The summer before starting at the University, Katie’s interest in agriculture took her to Brewster, Minnesota, working for New Vision Cooperative. She worked in grain, feed, agronomy, and also human resources. While at New Vision, Katie gained better understanding of the value of cooperatives and is excited to have taken the skills she learned at her internship and applied them to her education at the University in various classes and student groups. The experiences from the Cooperative also proved valuable in many of the other internships during her college career.
In the following summers, Katie interned with a quarter horse trainer in Oklahoma and also took advantage of a study abroad opportunity in Ireland. Traveling with the American Institute for Foreign Study, she became a student at the University of Limerick and took coursework that helped her towards her degree here at the University of Minnesota. Katie values this experience, and also her previous educational travel experiences to China and the US Virgin Islands, very highly. It was because of these experiences and her interest in international affairs that Katie added her International Agriculture minor.
After meeting with many students who had similar interests, Katie, with the help of a small group of other students, launched the International Agriculture Club, which is housed right here on our St. Paul campus.
The advice Katie gives to current students and especially incoming students is, “Make your mark somehow. Everyone goes through the same classes and activities; you have to find a way to make yourself stand out. Whatever it is that you do is what is going to get you noticed.”
Katie recently accepted a position at Hormel Foods Corporation. Starting in January, she’ll serve as the Internal Communications Coordinator in the department of Communications/Internal Communications at Hormel’s corporate office in Austin, Minnesota. Congratulations, Katie!
Graduate Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Eastep
Elizabeth Eastep grew up in Yanceyville, North Carolina, and got her start in agriculture showing heifers and lambs in 4-H. Unlike Minnesota, in North Carolina, many youth show livestock and are heavily involved in 4-H, and then they make a switch to FFA in high school. Elizabeth, like many of her peers, made the switch to FFA. Her FFA Advisor was a big influence and a role model for her in her involvement in both FFA and Agricultural Education. “Aspire to inspire before you expire,” Elizabeth’s FFA advisor would tell his students. It is this motivation that gives Elizabeth the drive to keep pursuing her dream of becoming an ag teacher.
During her time as an undergrad at North Carolina State University, Elizabeth majored in Ag Sciences. Ag Sciences is a program similar to the Agricultural Education: Leadership and Communication track at the University of Minnesota. While at North Carolina State University, Elizabeth found herself heavily involved in Agricultural Education Club and state FFA. She was also a facilitator at 360 Conference and Washington Leadership Conference (WLC).
As a leader of WLC, Elizabeth worked with groups of youth from states all over the country. One group that made a significant impact on Elizabeth’s future was the Minnesota FFA. Over the course of the week, the students managed to convince her to visit Minnesota after summer’s end. Elizabeth made the trek to Minnesota and visited several of her FFA friends at county fairs across the state. Soon it was time to get back to the real world. Elizabeth began grad school at Oklahoma State University, and it was only a short time into her graduate student career when she realized that it wasn’t the right fit for her. She got on the phone with some of her friends, and one of her connections at South Dakota State University knew Dr. Amy Smith was making the switch to the University of Minnesota. After corresponding with Dr. Smith, Elizabeth decided the University of Minnesota was the place for her. She arrived in mid-January in the middle of a polar vortex, quickly finding out that Minnesota is a very different place in the winter time!
However, the Minnesota winters haven’t kept Elizabeth from finding success at the University. She is currently on pace to graduate with a teaching license in the spring and a Master of Education in the summer or fall.
Two of her favorite classes are Dr. Brad Grieman’s Methods of Teaching class (AFEE 5111W), which is all about trying different activities and seeing how they’ll work in real life classroom settings; and Dr. Amy Smith’s Teaching Internship: School and Classroom Setting course (AFEE 5697), which focuses on crisis situations in the classroom and finding good reactions to those situations. “Our job as a teacher is to set students up for success. It is an easy thing to talk about, but sometimes we don’t go about it the right way. Being able to take these courses helps put the right skills into our tool box, allowing us to be the successful ag teachers,” Elizabeth said.
After graduation, Elizabeth plans to teach high school agriculture, and spend a lot of time focusing on FFA. If possible, Elizabeth would like to work in a rural community, preferably somewhere in Minnesota.
Elizabeth would tell all students considering graduate school or an undergrad program to go visit the campus for a few days, sit in on courses, interact with the community and really dive into the environment as a whole. “This is how you really learn where you fit in” she said. Elizabeth also recommends going out and shadowing someone in your potential career to the get a feel for what you might be getting into. For example, if you want to teach, set up a time with your Ag Ed advisor and see if they can get you an opportunity to see what it’s like. “Four years of undergrad and two years of grad school is a long time to spend studying for something you might not want to do.”
Best of luck, Elizabeth. We cannot wait to see where your experiences in Agricultural Education take you next!
2014 National Teach Ag Day Hosted in Minnesota
by Ellie Bauer, University of Minnesota sophomore
National Teach Ag Day, held September 25, 2014, was a day to celebrate school-based agricultural education in the schools and let attendees enjoy a day of networking, learning, and celebrating the profession.
The National Teach Ag Campaign Coordinator, Ellen Thompson said, “The agriculture classroom is where we can begin to solve these really big-picture questions, and those classrooms won’t exist without our best and brightest minds choosing to become agricultural educators.” The event was a day to encourage students to pursue careers as agricultural educators because the profession is currently facing a critical shortage.
Minnesota Team Ag Ed worked with Dr. Amy Smith and Dr. Brad Greiman of the University of Minnesota to plan the day’s activities. While the National Teach Ag Day livestream event occurred at the CHS headquarters, the U of M Ag Ed program hosted a Future Teacher Event on campus in the morning. This was an exciting opportunity for the University of Minnesota Agricultural Education program to showcase its programs, students, and faculty and provide a service to agricultural education students from area institutions.
The Future Teacher Event program began with Jodee Bock, business communicator and author, and her presentation entitled, Putting Your “Why” to Work. She spoke about why some people inspire action and others do not, and how to become someone who does inspire action in others. The second speaker was Samantha Walder, an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Minnesota who provided a workshop entitled, Technology for Teachers: 30 Tools in 30 Minutes. Ms. Walder taught attendees how to increase collaboration, communication, and “coolness” of their future classrooms. The final speaker was Dr. Erica Theiman, Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, who taught about Teacher Stress and Classroom Management. She helped participants understand how a teacher’s personal stress can impact the classroom environment and student behavior and how to manage it for the benefit of the youth’s learning and growth.
At the conclusion of the Future Teacher Event, participants had the opportunity to travel to CHS headquarters for the afternoon activities. The livestream event provided for a national celebration of the profession and included three panels. One panel was composed of current teachers who shared key messages that could have convinced even the most skeptical people they should teach agriculture as well. Another panel included various agriculture education leaders from across the country including the University of Minnesota’s very own Dr. Brad Greiman. They spoke on various aspects of agriculture education including teacher licensure, teacher retention, and supportive resources for teachers. The final panel was made up current agriculture education students including Sarah Lee. Sarah shared the reason she chose to attend the U of M was that “it felt like home” when she visited all the way from Illinois.
Over 50 students participated in the Future Teacher Event, representing the University of Minnesota, North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University, South Central College, and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The livestreaming, which can be found here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/53122074, was viewed by 98 additional future teachers from 13 states and thousands of agricultural educators and agricultural education supporters.
Dr. Smith was excited about the turnout and for the opportunity to share the message of agriculture education with current and prospective students. She also enjoyed interacting with other agriculture education enthusiasts from the Midwest. When asked about what she is looking forward to for upcoming National Teach Ag Days, she said, “The highlight of events such as these is the opportunity to share the message of Ag Ed with current and prospective students. It really is the best job ever!”
Ag Ed Sneak Preview Brings High School Students to Campus
The second annual Agricultural Education Sneak Preview Day for high school students in grades 9-12 was held Monday, November 10, 2014. The half-day event was hindered by the first snowfall of the winter season, but 12 students, parents and teachers braved the winter storm and made their way to The University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. While they were here, the potential students had a chance to connect with current Agricultural Education students, faculty and staff, as well as professionals who are currently in the Ag Ed career field.
The students visited with current University of Minnesota Ag Ed students Rachel Anderson, Chaneen Haler, Sarah Lee, Stephen Melson, Cassie Olson and Chris Seifert about the major, organizations on campus, internships, their favorite courses, study abroad options and their post-college plans. Stephen Melson was thrilled with the high level of energy at the Sneak Preview. “As a senior, it’s really great to see the next round of students showing so much enthusiasm to learn about the major. I can’t wait to pass the torch onto them,” he said.
Students also were able to ask questions to a panel of Ag Ed professionals, which included Paul Hansen, the Change, Communication, Education Design Supervisor at Cargill; Jeff Lindeman, an Agricultural Science Teacher at Chisago Lakes High School; and Tom Rothman, the Director of Agricultural Stakeholder Outreach at the University of Minnesota. The key message the professionals relayed to the students was that the skills learned within the Agriculture Education program are skills that graduates can apply to the real world and be successful.
Students also joined in for a college class – Dr. Rebecca Swenson’s AFEE 2421: Professional Communication for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment course – to participate in class discussion as well as activities. Attending the class proved to be a great way to interact with current CFANS students and to get a feel for what Agricultural Education is really like. On a post-event evaluation, one high school student wrote, “I loved the Sneak Preview Day! I learned a lot about what the Agricultural Education major has to offer and how I could make Ag Ed into a career.” Another student noted, “I no longer have to stress about finding a major. Agricultural Education is right for me!”
If you or a high school student you know missed the Ag Ed Sneak Preview Day and would like to set up a time to visit the Ag Ed division, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ag Ed Faculty Member Wins Outstanding Early Career Educator Award
The University of Minnesota’s Agricultural Education division has some of the best faculty working around the clock to help their students be successful, both at the University and beyond. And earlier this year, Dr. Amy Smith (pictured here, with Dr. Brad Greiman) won the The North Central (NC) Region of the American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE) award for Outstanding Early Career Educator. This is a very prestigious award only available to educators who have demonstrated excellence in agricultural education.
Dr. Smith has been involved in agricultural education for over a decade, working in all levels of education from middle school to graduate school. From 2009 to 2014, in her time at South Dakota State University and at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Smith has taught 15 different undergraduate courses and three different graduate courses.
Dr. Smith’s involvement at the University doesn’t stop at the classroom. Dr. Smith also serves as the Faculty Advisor for Beta Chapter of Clovia, assists with Agricultural Education Club activities and events, and has been a Minnesota State FFA Officer mentor for the past two years. In recent months, Dr. Smith has also been integral in establishing an Ag Ed Program Ambassador group that mentors new students in Agricultural Education and also works in recruitment efforts.
Thank you, Dr. Smith, for all you do for the Agricultural Education division and for the students at the University of Minnesota!
Ag Ed Ambassadors Work to Recruit and Retain Students
The Agricultural Education Ambassador program supports the Ag Ed program in its effort to recruit and retain students within the Agricultural Education major. The Ag Ed Ambassador program is new to campus this year, and as it grows, the roles and responsibilities of the Ag Ed Ambassadors will expand and be refined. The program was started to allow for more student involvement in recruitment and retention efforts - since often prospective and current students connect best to one another. Because of the demand for agricultural educators, communicators, and leaders, our program needs to promote and market the career options available to those who may not know about the program. Using talented Ag Ed students to spread the message is a great use of resources!
This year, Ag Ed Ambassadors are helping out with a variety of tasks, including assisting with AFEE 1001, serving as mentors/group leaders, delivering recruitment presentations at schools and organizations, facilitating sessions for prospective students who visit campus, and maintaining a social media presence for the program.
As the founding members of the Ag Ed Ambassador program, our ambassadors set lofty goals for the program’s future. They believe that capitalizing on the time, talents, and energy that current students offer will improve and expand recruitment and retention efforts. In the long run, the Ag Ed Ambassadors would like to offer a professional development opportunity for our own students while simultaneously developing a sustainable recruitment and retention plan that will attract and maintain student interest in our programs.
The current Ag Ed Ambassadors applied late last summer and were selected based on application criteria, including commitment and availability. Six Ambassadors were selected - three from each specialization.