Students learn that fulfillment far outweighs frustrations of teaching ag

Trey Porter, a member of the California, Missouri, FFA chapter, eagerly waited at the doors of room 309 of the MU Hearnes Center. Porter stood tall as he joked with other students, each wearing a blue corduroy FFA jacket.

Porter, along with many other students, was waiting to attend the workshop, “Are You Tagged to Teach Ag,” presented by Missouri Teach Ag at the 90th annual Missouri FFA Convention.

“My adviser told me how much fun it is for him to be an ag teacher and how great it is for him to impact the lives of high school students,” Porter said. “When he told me about this workshop, I knew this was something I felt was really cool and something I wanted to do.”

Missouri FFA students participate in the Teach Ag workshop at the state FFA convention in Columbia.

The workshop is an invitation-only experience to students interested in a career in agricultural education. Each year, the Missouri Teach Ag campaign encourages educators to nominate students who are interested in agricultural education. This year, 73 FFA members attended the workshop. The presenters were FFA advisers from across the state including Brook Kreatz of the Trenton FFA chapter, Lane Howard of the Salem FFA chapter and Lance Martin of the Chillicothe FFA chapter.

During the workshop, students had the opportunity to hear from the advisers and participate in activities that introduced advantages of choosing this career.

In one activity, the students were asked to choose uplifting adjectives that described their adviser. Answers included inspiring, hardworking, passionate, impactful and even mothering.

“Now, where else could you find a job where a group of people could come into a room and write down adjectives where you could be described as all those positive things,” Martin said. “There are not a lot of careers out there where you can change young people like this one.”

Part of the workshop was to show students what Missouri schools are looking for in ag teachers. Kreatz said the hardships teachers face are like towers. She described the work it takes to build and support a high tower, just for them to be easily knocked down. She gave each group a stack of cups and challenged them to build the highest tower. As each group built, she walked the room and knocked down towers as they grew with height.

“As you all have noticed, winning isn’t the moral to this story,” Kreatz said. “You didn’t get that upset when I knocked down your towers. You didn’t stop, and you didn’t go, ‘this is dumb I’m not going to do this.’ It kind of shows me what kind of character you have. That’s the kind of character that we’re looking for in ag teachers.”

To help students remember the event, they were given a keepsake: a copy of the Future Agricultural Educator’s Creed.

Student were instructed to sign and store the creed in their jackets as a tribute to what had brought them to the workshop.

“I learned how different agricultural education could be as a career and how impactful it could be on the lives of others,” Porter said. “It makes me want to become a teacher even more now.”

The 90th annual Missouri FFA Convention was held on April 19 and 20 at the MU Hearne’s Center. According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the convention honors members for outstanding achievements, conducts association business, elects new officers and hosts leadership workshops for members. The organization hosted over 8,000 students from across the state.