K-State agricultural education student teaching interns recently participated in two days of professional development for the Ag Ed Enhancing Pre-Service Instruction (EPIC) Experience sponsored by Kansas Corn Commission. Students were able to tour and talk with various production agricultural sectors in Garden City, Kansas.
During the tour, students:
visited Royal Farms Dairy and learned from Kyle Averhoff about the farm’s story, goals, and the role of corn in the dairy industry;
toured Bonanza Ethanol Plant, where Jeff Gilbert and colleagues spoke about the ethanol industry and their Garden City plant;
visited Reeve Cattle Co., where the Reeve family discussed their use of ethanol, feed distillers grains, and other corn feedstuffs in their cattle operation;
visited the K-State Research and Extension Southwest Research Station, where Dwane and Grace Roth, Mike Meyer, and Michael Kempke discussed water issues in southwest Kansas and emerging technologies for sustainable water use;
heard perspectives from individual corn producers, Russell Komlofske, Kyler Millershaski, and Jeff Mai;
visited Sublette High School agricultural education teacher, Will Johnson who shared advice for starting a new agricultural education program and beginning careers as educators;
and visited Cimarron High School agricultural education teacher Ryan Miller who spoke to students about the importance of positive community relationships to create successful agricultural education programs.
At the beginning of February, the AgEd Club hosted their annual KSU Speech Contest in Bluemont Hall. There were over 180 Kansas FFA members competing and 45 K-State students helping throughout the day.
Categories of speeches included freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, creed, and extemporaneous.
Graduating from college is no easy feat, but for one agricultural education alumnus, it just wasn’t enough. Will Johnson (’17) has went above and beyond after graduation from Kansas State University.
After student teaching in the spring of 2017 at Cimarron High School, he took a leap and accepted a job as a teacher at Sublette High School, a nearby school that didn’t have an FFA program – that quickly changed.
During the summer, Johnson converted the essentially unused shop from storage to a working environment and began paperwork to start an FFA program at the school.
Johnson, a Whitewater, Kansas, native, says, “I really like the area and the people out here. It seemed like a chance to start something new for the community.”
This fall he is teaching an introduction to agriculture class for eighth graders and an agriculture, food, and natural resources class; an animal science class; and an agricultural structures class for high school students. In the future, he hopes to add a plant and soil science class and research in agriculture class to the curriculum.
A little over a year ago, Dr. Gaea (Wimmer) Hock (’03, ’06) and Dr. Jonathan Ulmer joined the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education as agricultural education faculty.
Throughout the past year, these two have been busy preparing students to go back into the classroom as teachers, adding technology into their projects, and igniting positive change within the program. One prominent change they are working on together, with the help of instructor Brandie Disberger, is to revise the agricultural education curriculum credit hours and add three new courses to the program.
In addition to teaching courses, Hock also offers opportunities for students to conduct undergraduate research projects regarding agricultural education and FFA programs in the state. Furthermore, she intends to lead a study abroad trip to the Czech Republic in the future.
The agricultural education program has more opportunities than ever, and students are noticing.
Each October, the Kansas State University agricultural education program selects students to travel to the National FFA Convention. These students represented the K-State Agricultural Education Club, the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education, and the entire College of Agriculture.
A recent campaign aims to bring attention to the nationwide shortage of agricultural educators. This shortage includes the state of Kansas, home to 176 agricultural education programs. Shannon Washburn, agricultural education professor explains schools that previously did not have programs have added them, increasing the demand for teachers.