For agricultural education instructor, Amanda Smith, the way she teaches and inspires young agriculturalists each day has been shaped by her past experiences interning for the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) and the Missouri Soybean Association (MSA). Both of these internships gave the Columbia, Missouri, teacher more diverse opportunities and experiences within the agriculture industry allowing her to make new connections with other teachers, leaders and agriculturalists across the state. All of this combined to help Smith make a real impact early in her career as an agricultural education instructor.
This year, Smith received the Jess Clonts Memorial Scholarship, Outstanding First Year Agricultural Educator in Missouri.
During the summer of her sophomore year, in 2103, she was the education intern for a program funded by the Missouri Soybean Association called, Agriculture Education on the Move. This program is now tied with Missouri Farmer’s Care, but during its infancy was held with MSA. Smith planned and executed advocacy events at large fairs and gatherings around the state. She explained that they reached out to young children by providing coloring sheets for all customers who came into the Bee House and Pork Place at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.
Along with working to improve youth education in agriculture, Smith furthered her communication and advocacy skills by presenting information about misconceptions in agriculture to consumers at fairs. She also networked and worked closely with farmers who were on the Missouri Soybean Board.
“All of these experiences are now shared in my classroom on a regular basis,” Smith said. “The connections I made with farmers are now guest speakers and individuals who I can send students to for SAE projects.”
Smith went on to explain how these experiences are especially important where she is currently located, in the urban community of Columbia, Missouri.
“The work in advocacy and education is also shared with students, especially in Columbia, Missouri,” Smith said. “I say that because there are some students who come into my classroom and believe the myths about animal/production agriculture.”
Following her internship with MSA, during her junior year she was able to focus on the education side of her career by interning with the National Association of Agricultural Educators.
“Interning with NAAE was one of the best experiences I could have asked for in my collegiate career,” Smith said. “My favorite event was the Agriscience Teacher Ambassador program that I helped plan.”
She explained that this event, which was held in Maryland, attracted teachers from across the country to come and learn new techniques to become better agriculture instructors. She was able to listen to lectures and learn alongside many seasoned teachers. Smith said she is still in contact with many teachers she met in Maryland. During her time at NAAE Smith gained experience planning events and lessons, which now helps her organize lesson plans and fundraising events.
These experiences have clearly paid off as Smith has received many honors as only a first-year teacher. During the Missouri State FFA Convention, Smith was the coach of two Career Development Events that won first place: horse judging, and livestock judging. She also helped a student receive third place in a public speaking contest and three of her students received proficiency awards.