FFA Jacket Impacts Teach Ag Intern

 By Nebraska Teach Ag Intern Miranda Paitz

When I enrolled in my first agricultural class my freshman year of high school, I had no idea what FFA was; all I knew was that there were a large amount of kids that showed under FFA at my county fair. It didn’t take me long to get involved in my FFA chapter at Wilcox-Hildreth and see just how much FFA had to offer.

My freshman year, I was able to attend the State FFA Convention as a participant in the Agriscience untitledcontest, and I was able to earn a ribbon while I was there. It was very inspirational to be able to go to the convention and see all of the other FFA students as well as the agricultural businesses that support FFA. I was then able to go to the National FFA Convention my sophomore year and I was amazed by the amount of blue jackets, FFA emblems, and positive atmosphere that I was surrounded by. At our first session, the National FFA Chorus was there to perform; they were incredible! I looked at my advisor and said “Mr. Johnson, wouldn’t it be cool if I was in that choir?” and he replied, “You could be in that choir someday if you wanted to, but you would need to try out, I believe that you would make it”. Our FFA chapter only attended the National FFA Convention every other year and so, the main focus of my junior year was being a chapter officer. However, my senior year, I decided to try out for the National FFA Chorus, and I was accepted! I was one of three people from my high school that had ever been a part of the National FFA Chorus and, thanks to the help of the Wilcox-Hildreth School Board, I was able to fly to Indianapolis a week before my chapter so that I could rehearse with the rest of the chorus. As if being a part of the National FFA Chorus wasn’t enough, I was able to sing a solo part in one of our songs!

The experiences that I’ve had while wearing my FFA jacket and being an FFA member are some that others can only dream about doing. Thanks to the support from my community, family, friends and chapter, I was able to reach high levels of achievement and I am very proud of my decision to enroll into an agricultural class my freshman year of high school. Now, I am planning on supporting FFA and agricultural education even more by becoming an agriculture teacher and an FFA advisor. Though I am not supposed to wear my jacket while in this role, I will embrace those that can and help to show them the potential that they gain just by putting it on. I hope that I can help my future students achieve in their own ways as FFA members when I start teaching in Cambridge next year.

Donating an FFA jacket to a student will change their life forever. They will benefit from this experience because they will be able to attend state convention and many other great activities and contests. I hope that you will consider donating $80 to the Blue Jackets. Bright Futures. Program to provide an FFA member with an FFA jacket and tie or scarf. You can go to the link below to donate online before the September 1st deadline. https://neffafoundationorg.presencehost.net/support_us/donate.html




DuPont Pioneer and Nebraska Soybean Board Invest $45,000 for Agriculture Education Curriculum Training


Agriculture teachers from all over Nebraska were able to attend the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) on June 19-29. The CASE Institute is an 80-hour institute held each year for agricultural teachers. This year the Nebraska Soybean Board and DuPont Pioneer collaborated to invest $45,000 for Nebraska’s agriculture teachers to attend CASE and purchase equipment needed to implement the curriculum for their classrooms.

“This is a good effort for industry and a commodity board to further agricultural education in our schools. The program shares the expertise of others to raise the level of agricultural education in our schools,” says Victor Bohuslavsky, Executive Director of the Nebraska Soybean Board.

CASE currently provides many courses including Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to Food Safety to Animal and Plant Biotechnology. The institute teaches agricultural teachers how to prepare their students for success in college and for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.


“Ensuring there is enough safe, affordable and nutritious food for all will require than more students understand agriculture and become future leaders in food production,” said Mark Deterding, Business Director for DuPont Pioneer’s Western Business Unit. “We know that we cannot do this alone and are working with others in agriculture and education to give teachers the best resources to encourage children to understand agriculture and consider careers in the industry.”

While teachers can attend any Institute, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) hosts an Institute each summer. Matt Kreifels, Assistant Professor of Practice with UNL’s Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication Department says, “we expect our teachers to know everything and teach all areas of agriculture, food and natural resources. The reality is they have very minimal resources to equip both themselves and their classrooms to teach this valuable information. The CASE Institute is unique and very beneficial to a teacher. They can easily implement that curriculum right in their classroom.”

Dvorak Recognized For Influencing Bassett Community Programs

The Nebraska FFA Foundation presented Mrs. Ann Dvorak with the 2016 Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award at the Nebraska FFA Convention on April 6.

Ann Dvorak is the FFA Advisor for Rock County FFA. Numerous students, fellow teachers, community members, parents, and school officials supported her nomination of this award. Bethany Blackburn, former student, nominated Dvorak. She wrote that Dvorak has stepped up in the community with other members to work together and show commitment for the rural community that is declining in population. Dvorak helped establish the Rock County Growth Inc. and served on the Ranch Expo Board. Dvorak was also instrumental in helping nearby community, Keya Paha School, establish an agriculture education program. In addition, she showed concern for others needs after an FFA members family lost their home to a fire, Dvorak quickly responsed by organizing a food, clothing and furniture drive for the family in need.

Kristine Gale, Director of Economic Development of Bassett, also supported Dvorak’s nomination. She commented how Dvorak serves on the Rock County Ag Society, Bassett Tree Board, and Rock County Expo Board. Gale said, “Mrs. Dvorak’s leadership is important because she is a young professional and serves as a role model for other young professionals to begin taking on leadership responsibilities in our community.” Gale acknowledges what Dvorak has done in the past year. She earned her master’s degree in December, while working full time and having her first baby.

The FFA officer team at Rock County continued to prove why Dvorak was the perfect example of a great FFA Advisor and leader for the community. They wrote about how she started the Back Pack Program at their school. She also works with the Game and Parks Commission to have a pollination garden in the community. They feel that Dvorak has done much more in the school and community than what is expected of her.

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. Ann Dvorak was announced as the award winner during the Nebraska State FFA Convention in Lincoln. She 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.


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.

Teachers Focus on Animals at the 2014 CASE Institute

CASE, agriscience, agricultural education, FFA

Several agriculture teachers and a pre-service agriculture teacher participated in this year’s Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) Institute hosted by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL). In the third year UNL has hosted the CASE Institute, the focus of this year’s Institute was Principles of Agricultural Science – Animal.

This course is foundation-level curriculum for agriculture education students. It engages students in laboratories and activities that explore animal agriculture, including history and use of animals, cells and tissues, animal nutrition, genetics, and animal handling among other topics.

Once an agriculture teacher has completed this 70-hour intense professional development workshop, they are certified to teach this specific course. Teachers practice teaching lessons, follow through with each lesson themselves and CASE Institute instructors determine if each teacher is adequately prepared to provide instruction using CASE curricula.

At the Nebraska FFA Foundation, one of our strategy areas is to support Nebraska agriculture teachers and with the shortage of ag teachers that we are seeing, it’s important for us to get behind initiatives like the CASE Institute. While this is a very valuable professional development opportunity for our teachers, it’s also costly. The Foundation is proud to partner with the Nebraska Soybean Board, CHS Foundation and the Nebraska Pork Producers to help offset the cost of this conference. We’re doing what we can to provide our teachers with tools to be successful in their profession.