Today is National Teach Ag Day

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Today is National Teach Ag Day. This is a day to celebrate school-based agricultural education and to encourage agricultural education advocates, especially current agricultural educators (middle school, high school, post-secondary, pre-service programs, etc.) to share with others the great career opportunities in agricultural education.

Many of you are aware of the shortage of teachers, which has been affecting Nebraska, among other states, for the last several years. So in addition to saying thank you to our agriculture education teachers, I wanted to share a few facts from Matt Kreifels, Nebraska’s State Director of Agricultural Education, about the ag teacher supply and demand as it stands today.

Here’s the update he gave me:

  • Nebraska schools posted 44 openings for teachers this last spring.  Compare that to 21 openings in 2011.
  • Nebraska has added 45 new agricultural education programs since 2010.
  • Nebraska now has 14 schools that have two agricultural education teachers on faculty.
  • UNL graduated 11 student teachers in the 2015-16 academic year with 100% teaching placements.
  • UNL expects to graduate 10 student teachers for the 2016-17 school year.
  • UNL is expecting between 25-30 UNL students  completing their student teaching semester during the 2017-18 academic year.

While there are many factors contributing to the growth of agriculture education teachers as a profession, we attribute part of the growth to the National State Teach Ag Results (STAR) initiative. This was a program that Nebraska’s Team Ag Ed engaged with three years ago. It included a collaborative support for pre-service teachers to engage with current teachers in professional development, retention programs for teachers and Teach Ag internships. The Nebraska FFA Foundation and its partners have helped make this program possible and we are excited to see the successes of the initiative.

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Annual Tire Auction to Include Harley-Davidson and John Deere Gator and Online Streaming

(LINCOLN) – Titan Tire Corporation, a subsidiary of Titan International, Inc., will be hosting a tire auction for Nebraska FFA at Husker Harvest Days on Wednesday, September 14, 2016. In its fourth year, the 2016 auction will also include a 2005 Harley Davidson Road King Classic motorcycle and John Deere Gator.

“We take great pride in supporting the FFA and helping to benefit the next generation of growers,” says Scott Sloan, agricultural product manager at Titan International. “FFA is a great leadership program for students looking to continue in agriculture and ag business fields. If you spend any time with these kids, you can see that the future is bright for agriculture, and Titan is glad to help them along the way.”

To participate in this year’s auction:

  • Sign in at the FFA registration desk for a bid number to participate in the auction in person. Can’t make it to the sale? The auction will be streamed live on bigiron.com. Cash, check and credit cards will be accepted.
  • Starting at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 14, participants can place bids on a selection of Titan and Goodyear Farm tires, as well as a John Deere Gator and Harley Davidson motorcycle. The highest bids win and all proceeds support Nebraska FFA members.
  • The list of tires that will be auctioned off and details on the John Deere Gator and Harley Davidson can be downloaded here.

Teachers Take Time To Learn This Summer

CASE Institute Held at UNL, July 2015
Pre-service and current agriculture teachers from Nebraska and other states attending CASE Institute at UNL in July.

Teachers may have a little break during the summer, but most of Nebraska’s agriculture teachers chose to fill their summer months with professional development opportunities.

In its fourth year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education Institute (CASE) was filled with teachers eager to become certified instructors in the Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources course. Teachers attending the CASE Institute are provided with the tools necessary to take the curriculum for the Introduction class and the knowledge and hands-on experience to implement it right into their classroom. CASE Institutes occur at sites across the US in the summer and some of Nebraska’s teachers attended other Institutes to become certified in Animal Systems and Principals of Agricultural Science – Plant. In order to become certified in a CASE curriculum, a teacher must participate in an 80-hour Institute.

New this year, the Tri-State Delta Conference was a five-day experience for agriculture teachers that focuses on becoming a better teacher and leader for students. Participants leave as better teachers, better at articulating value of their program to stakeholders and an understanding of building a sustainable and innovative agricultural education program.  The conference was held July 7-11 in Curtis and was targeted for teachers in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska. It was highlighted on KNOP and click here to see the full report.

These are only two unique opportunities for Nebraska’s agriculture teachers. If you look at the professional development list for teachers, there are twelve different options for teachers! When we look at the impact a teacher can have on Nebraska’s agricultural education, I think it’s easy to see how important this is for our teachers. I hope you see the importance in your local communities of giving agriculture teachers the tools they need to be successful teachers and leaders in our schools and communities, so they can make a lasting impact on students.

Mark Your Calendars for Give to Lincoln Day on May 28

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Thursday, May 28 marks Lincoln’s annual Give to Lincoln Day.

Give to Lincoln Day is your chance to make a real impact in Lincoln, Nebraska by supporting Lincoln’s non-profit organizations. Every donation made to the Nebraska FFA Foundation on May 28 helps more than almost any other day. The Lincoln Community Foundation and their partners will provide a challenge match fund of $300,000 this year. At the end of the day, the Nebraska FFA Foundation will receive a proportional share of this fund based on the percentage the total dollars raised. Your generous donations help us receive more and more of that challenge match pool!

Your support on Give to Lincoln Day is an investment in Nebraska’s agricultural education and FFA programs. All monies received support the Nebraska FFA Foundation’s four strategy areas related to the mission:

  1. Growing FFA in more communities
  2. Getting students plugged in to the ag industry
  3. Supporting agriculture teachers
  4. Supporting statewide leadership capacity

New this year: You can donate now and your donation will automatically be applied to the Give to Lincoln Day total. Your donation made between May 1 and midnight on May 28, will be applied to the Give to Lincoln Day total for the Nebraska FFA Foundation. Click here or on the banner above to give now.

Badertscher Family Establishes Endowment for Nebraska FFA

Braden Badertscher posed for senior pictures in front of the tractor he restored for his Supervised Agricultural Experience.
Braden Badertscher posed for senior pictures in front of the tractor he restored for his Supervised Agricultural Experience.

Joining FFA was one of the best things that happened to Braden Badertscher. “He always had a love for agriculture,” according to his parents Tony and Jane Badertscher. “His first toys were John Deere tractors and his favorite place to be was at the farm.”

Tony and Jane say that FFA taught him confidence, public speaking and leadership skills. He even restored an old John Deere tractor for his Supervised Agriculture Education project. “How ironic that the little toys he enjoyed playing with would eventually earn him a bronze award in Ag Mechanics Repair and Maintenance – Placement at National FFA Convention.”

Not only did FFA help Braden grow in all of these ways, but it brought normalcy to his life when he was diagnosed with cancer. Jane says FFA helped give him something positive to focus on instead of all the bad that was happening. “The Holdrege FFA Chapter and advisor became part of Braden’s ‘family’ and was a huge support system throughout this illness.

After Braden passed away, Tony and Jane realized just how much of an impact FFA had on him. They also learned how much of an impact Braden had on other FFA members and decided to give back to Nebraska FFA. Jane says, “We can only hope that this small gift will help others to discover their potential, and that Braden’s memory will live on through their involvement in FFA.”

The Braden Badertscher “Power Your Potential” Memorial Endowment supports a proficiency award recognizing excellence in a student’s Supervised Agricultural Experience in the Power, Structure and Technical Systems Pathway and a $1,000 cash award for that student. This endowment is the first of its kind in endowing a proficiency award through the Nebraska FFA Foundation.

Schroeder Recognized for Helping Others After Pilger Tornadoes

Mark Schroeder is the agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor at Wisner-Pilger High School.
Mark Schroeder is the agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor at Wisner-Pilger High School.

The Nebraska FFA Foundation presented Mark Schroeder, Wisner-Pilger High School agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor, with the 2015 Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award at the Nebraska FFA Convention on April 9.

Schroeder was nominated by numerous students, past students and community members. Jeff Albers, a community member, says that Schroeder’s passion for students and community was most obvious following the devastating tornadoes last summer. He made himself available to many who needed help. He worked with his students to mobilize work groups to help with the overwhelming task of land property cleanup for several weeks following the tornadoes. “After thousands of acres had been cleared of debris, he then turned his attention to work with his students to focus on the six FFA students and their families that lost virtually everything.” Schroeder led efforts, with his FFA Officer Team, to coordinate a fundraiser for FFA members yielding $1,000 per FFA family and “priceless camaraderie in the community,” according to Albers.

Beyond tornado cleanup, Schroeder is also well known for his passion in the classroom. Eric Leisy, student, says “he is the kind of teacher that always puts his students before him and wants nothing but the best for others.” Fellow teacher Abby Knobbe says one thing she admires is his hands-on approach. “He’s worked hard to develop a strong relationship between his students and the community so that students are able to have those hands-on experiences and gain knowledge and skills while still in high school.”

He is also a very active member of the agricultural education family by continuing to participate in professional development conferences and through involvement in the Nebraska Agriculture Educators Association.

The Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award recognizes a Nebraska agriculture teacher or FFA advisor for what he or she has done in helping others, specifically in the school and community, outside of agriculture education and FFA. Schroeder was announced as the award winner during the Nebraska State FFA Convention in Lincoln. He received a plaque and $500 cash award from the Nebraska FFA Foundation.

The annual award is named for Gary Scharf, who was a victim of an Omaha mall shooting in December 2007. Scharf grew up on a family farm outside of Curtis, Nebraska and worked in the agricultural chemical industry. He made a significant contribution to Nebraska’s agricultural and FFA community through his years of service on the Nebraska FFA Foundation Board, including a year as Board President in 2002-2003.

“I Believe in the Future of Ag” Campaign Raises Nearly $480,000 for Nebraska FFA

I-Believe-in-the-Future-of-AgLast August, twenty corporate sponsors challenged Nebraska’s FFA members to raise $250,000 at the local level. The results are in and Nebraska’s FFA chapters rose to the challenge. The “I Believe in the Future of Ag” campaign educates the public on the importance of agricultural education in Nebraska’s schools through an educational marketing campaign and serves as a fundraising campaign to grow the capacity of Nebraska FFA at both the state and local levels.

Twenty corporate partners participated in the 2014-15 campaign providing funds to develop the campaign, fund the educational marketing piece and provide $24,000 in matching funds for Nebraska’s FFA chapters.

“The beauty of this campaign it gives a local FFA advisor the opportunity to ask for a tax-deductible donation to do things they couldn’t otherwise afford. It also helps them develop a group of community supporters,” says Stacey Agnew, Executive Director of the Nebraska FFA Foundation.

“We’re seeing some really cool initiatives in our FFA chapters.” Dana Hall, McCool Junction agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, is working with her community to develop a live animal lab for her school. “Clayton Real was a former student of mine, who passed away last year while attending UNL. His dream was for hands-on learning with live animals as part of our agricultural education program.” She says the “I Believe in the Future of Ag” campaign really started the conversation in her community.

“It provided an outlet for us to start conversations to grow our program and I am so grateful for Kenny and Kelli Real for helping us make their son Clay’s dream a reality. I just wish Clay was here to help me with this dream of his.”

The Reals donated $15,000 through the “I Believe in the Future of Ag” campaign for this project. As part of this statewide effort, local donors select which chapter receives their donation and the entire donation and a portion of matching funds go directly to the chapter to use for innovative projects in their classrooms, leadership programming, community service projects and field trips to advance agriculture education in their schools. The annual campaign runs from August through February each year.