ALEC Summer 2016 Newsletter

Jaky Cerventes, AGED Major
Four Towers Times - Summer 2016 Newsletter
2015 Congressional Agricultural Fellows
Andy Paul, ALEC Agricultural Education
Kalie Hall, Agricultural Education Alumni

Four Towers Times — Summer 2016 ALEC Transforms Students through Experiential Education

ALEC transforms students throughout their educational journey by looking for ways to engage them in a variety of experiences offered in our curriculum such as study abroad to Scotland and Romania, Congressional Fellowships in Washington D.C., apprentice teaching, field trips, and internship opportunities. During the semester you’ll find ALEC students presenting egg candling demonstrations to their classmates or calling in barred owls at White Hall forest with Ranger Nick.  Agricultural Education students are transformed by hands-on learning experiences that maximize their learning opportunities. This edition of the ALEC Newsletter is no exception to the experiential education students receive in ALEC as it was written by Ms. Jaky Cervantes, former State FFA Officer and senior Agricultural Education major in Athens, GA.  I hope you enjoy peering inside the lives of our Agricultural Education students and alumni as Jaky and others share their experiences. - Dr. Kay Kelsey, Department Head

My Story by Jaky Cervantes

As a senior in Agricultural Education at UGA, I am able to experience many opportunities for transformative learning first-hand.   My first encounter with the ALEC department was junior year at Tift County High School. Three teachers served as cooperating teachers and mentors to Agricultural Education (AGED) apprentice teachers from UGA Tifton Campus under the direction of Dr. Jason Peake.  Because of this opportunity, middle and high school students had exposure to the energy and enthusiasm of future Agriculture teachers.  Without realizing it at the time, my love for agricultural education grew by watching and learning from the UGA apprentice teachers that served in our classrooms.  One of the apprentice teachers was Mr. David “Junior” Chapman (2012 alumni, UGA Tifton Campus), currently teaching agriculture at Oconee Middle School, GA.  

ALEC Alumni Reflect on Time at UGA

I interviewed Mr. Chapman for this story.  He stated he “really enjoyed the hands-on approach offered through the ALEC department” and “being able to watch other students present lessons and providing feedback was a great experience within ALEC.”  As an apprentice teacher, Mr. Chapman was able to integrate skills acquired within the ALEC department to build a solid foundation as an agriculture teacher.  His advice to current ALEC students is “take advantage of the apprentice teaching experience and learn as much as possible from your mentor teacher.  Ask as many questions as possible so that you are better prepared to enter the profession.”  In other words, transform yourself through the total AGED program!  

Another ALEC 2015 alumni and former FFA National Officer, Ms. Kalie Hall, teaches at Madison County High School.  She stated that some of her most memorable experiences in ALEC were “visiting local programs and seeing the diversity of ways to run a successful agricultural education program.”  She expressed how opportunities like this were “perspective changers.”  Ms. Hall was transformed an educator by watching her “peers teach micro-lessons.  A ton of the first year is spent developing and planning curriculum, so I have relied on many activities I saw my classmates lead.”  Ms. Hall currently teaches Agribusiness Management & Leadership, Animal Science & Biotechnology, Basic Agriculture Science, Floriculture Production & Management, and General Horticulture & Plant Science.  Ms. Hall implements the lessons and skills learned as a student in ALEC to transform the lives of her students.  Her advice to current students and recent graduates is:

“Be a student. The agricultural education subject matter is extremely diverse, and you never have more time to learn the curriculum you will eventually teach as you do now. Pick an area you don’t know as much about and beg an expert teacher in that area to let you sit in class to learn.  Ask questions.  Get on the Georgia Ag Ed website and student material posted there.  Learn now so you can be prepared to teach later.”

Agricultural Education Career Development Event

Dr. Eric Rubenstein, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education, worked side-by-side with Georgia Agricultural Education State FFA Staff to host the first Agricultural Education Career Development Event (CDE) in 2015.  Due to its success, it was offered again in 2016.  The event is open to high school students in grades 10, 11, and 12.  Students participate in four scored rounds that help them develop an interest in becoming an agriculture teacher.  Participants in the CDE create an original lesson plan, present their lesson to a live audience, take a multiple choice exam regarding agricultural education, and finally, have a round of situational questions about being an Agri-Science teacher from a panel of expert teachers.  Dr. Nick Fuhrman, Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator, and Dr. Maria Navarro, Associate Professor, each played a role in the CDE as presentation judges.  Dr. Rubenstein stated that he became interested in helping develop this event because it is a “phenomenal way for teachers to promote the profession they love and have a passion for.”  He explained that each sector of the event gives students a “true perspective of what it means to be an agriculture teacher,” as well as “creating an appreciation for agriculture teachers.”  Dr. Fuhrman stated this event was “a chance to help young people experience the joys of being a teacher” and teaching is “about being creative and letting your enthusiasm shine – it is contagious to your students.”

The teaching topics in this event varied.  Each participant chose a topic that was their passion and were “able to shine” through the transforming experience, stated Dr. Rubenstein.  A benefit of the CDE is being able to see how students are learning based on the way that they teach their lessons.  As a department, ALEC focuses on enhancing and preparing future educators.  We do this by evaluating emerging teaching techniques that arise during events such as the Agricultural Education Career Development Event.  Dr. Rubenstein leaves the participants and potential ALEC students with words of advice: “If you’re looking for a career to see your impact on future generations, there is no better choice than AGED.”  We are excited to see how the AGED CDE grows, develops, and transforms future educators!

Where Are They Now?

As a former member of the 2013-2014 State FFA Officer Team, I wanted to check in with my teammates.  We never got far away from each other and we remain passionately committed to GA agricultural education!

Mr. Andy Paul

Andy’s desire to be an FFA member developed at a young age.  Andy said seeing his sister and his cousins as active FFA members and livestock exhibitors sparked has passion. He officially became an FFA member when he enrolled in Mr. Rob Jackson’s agriculture class at Oglethorpe County High School.  Some of Andy’s key stops in his journey were “deciding to run for chapter office, losing area and state officer elections, eventually being elected state and national FFA president, competing in the farm bureau sponsored discussion meet, and winning state showmanship in 2011 for swine.”  Through his service, Andy said AGED and the FFA taught him “the best part of being yourself is that you are a combination of so many other people.” He stated:

“We pick up on the characteristics of those around us that we want to emulate, and they become a part of us. My grandmother taught me to always make room for others.  My family showed me that faith is the strongest foundation you can have.  Mr. Ben Lastly taught me that confidence in yourself gives confidence to others.  Mrs. Hope Carter proved that love prevails all time and distance. And finally, my teammates became a family, and showed me that no matter where we go, no matter what they say, they will always say ‘you’ll be in my heart.’”

Andy chose UGA ALEC and majored in AGED because of his passion for youth development.  He said, “The changing moment [in deciding to pursue AGED] was when my Ag teacher, Mr. Jackson, told me that he thought I would make a good teacher.”  As a junior AGED student, Andy works in ALEC with the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry program with Dr. Lauren Griffeth, serves as a CAES ambassador and is involved in Collegiate FFA.  He stays involved with Georgia AGED and FFA by serving as a judge for Career Development Events, helping FFA members with contests, and is always looking for growth as an educator.  We are excited to have Andy on the ALEC team!

Mrs. Addie Thomason Tucker

Addie’s transformative journey in agricultural education began in 2005 when she showed goats and swine in Franklin County.  As a first place FFA Creed Speaker in 2008, Addie was “on fire for the FFA.”  Fast forward many competitions, local and area offices held, and friendships made - to the State FFA Convention in Macon Georgia April 27, 2013.  Addie was elected to serve the Georgia FFA Association as the North Region Vice President. Of her service, Addie said “FFA and AGED taught me the importance of Agriculture and making connections with others.”  Currently, Addie is an AGED major and is also an office assistant under the direction of Dr. Amber Rice, Assistant Professor, and Dr. Jason Peake, Professor and Director of Academic Programs at UGA Tifton.  Addie chose ALEC and Agricultural Education because she wants to have the same transforming impact that her father, Mr. Thomason, who was also her agriculture teacher, had on students. She stated, “By simply being there for students and encouraging them to be the best that they can be, you can make a huge difference in their lives.”  Addie is transferring to UGA Athens this fall semester to complete her final year of her undergraduate career.  It has been a wonderful experience getting to work with Andy and Addie as former state FFA officers and now as fellow Agricultural Education students and office mates!  I am excited to see them both handle a classroom with their unmatched personalities and transforming teaching abilities!

Words of Wisdom from a Wise Owl

Dr. Lynne Cook, agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Tift County High School, has been involved with Georgia agricultural education for 28 years.  During this time, she has been a cooperating teacher for 15 ALEC apprentice teachers.  Dr. Cook stated that the most memorable experience of being a cooperating teacher is “watching my students finally take the direction of the apprentice teachers, that’s when you know that the apprentice teacher is becoming influential in the classroom.”  Dr. Cook stated that through her experiences, she has realized that the components to being successful in the classroom include “classroom management, time management – for classroom lessons, FFA events, personal time – willingness to learn new subjects (especially the ones you think you know, ahead of students), and pedagogical skills and concepts.”  She advised, “while a UGA student, take the time to soak in as much information as possible, collect everything that you can from every teacher that you meet – power points, lesson plans, and ideas.”   Her final words of wisdom to future educators are “BE FAIR in everything that you do.”  ALEC students and faculty are thankful to have mentors that take our students under their wing and provide them with first-hand experiences to transform them into amazing teachers.  Thank you, Dr. Cook, for your support of ALEC and the Agricultural Education profession.

Newsletter stories written by Jaky Cervantes, AGED major June 8, 2016.


Contact ALEC at UGA: