Jon Ulmer, associate professor of agricultural education, was selected by the national FFA program to receive the Honorary American FFA Degree. This award is given to those who advance agricultural education and FFA through outstanding personal commitment. The Honorary American FFA Degree recognizes those who have gone beyond valuable daily contributions to make an extraordinary long-term difference in the lives of students, inspiring confidence in a new generation of agriculturists. Ulmer will receive the award at the 2018 National FFA Convention and Expo during an onstage ceremony on Friday, Oct. 26, in Indianapolis. All recipients will receive a certificate and medal, and their names will be permanently recorded. Ulmer currently serves on the National FFA Board of Directors.
By Deanna Reid, agricultural education and communications master’s student
Nineteen agricultural education student teaching interns attended the Kansas Ag Growth Summit on August 23 at the Kansas Department of Agriculture in Manhattan, Kansas. This year’s summit was the largest ever, with more than 500 people attending to talk about growing agriculture in Kansas. Participants included farmers, ranchers, agribusiness owners, policy makers, city/county representatives, and leaders of agriculture organizations. The K-State student teachers not only learned about all aspects of Kansas agriculture but were active participants in the event.
The communications and agricultural education department hosted the “Tagged to Teach Ag” event on April 30. This event brought more than 250 FFA members from high schools across the state to the Manhattan campus to learn more about what it means to be an agricultural educator.
Current Kansas State University agricultural education students and faculty gave presentations about the program and future career options. Information about the agricultural education degree and other K-State programs was also available.
FFA members also enjoyed ice cream from Call Hall and fresh cookies from the grain science and industry department while they played interactive games, collected “ag swag” and prizes and took photos with Willie the Wildcat at the “Tagged to Teach Ag” photo booth.
“We would like to give special thanks to the ag ed students, FFA advisors and presenters for making this a great event,” said Instructor Brandie Disberger, one of the event organizers. “We hope everyone considers teaching ag as a career!”
Dr. Gaea (Wimmer) Hock (’03, ’06) assisted with the Western Kansas Youth Water Advocates Conference in Garden City, March 23–24.
This conference helps high school FFA members learn more about water issues and develop skills for advocating in their communities. Ten students from six FFA chapters participated in the event.
Dr. Hock taught sessions about considering the target audience and the basics of research. Melissa Poet (’17) and Russell Plaschka co-hosted this conference and served as mentors for students and sponsors for the event. Poet currently teaches agricultural education at Greeley County High School, and Plaschka serves as the Career and Workforce Development Specialist at the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
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.