Missouri FFA and Agriculture Education | Inside MO FFA
missouri ffa association, national ffa association
112
archive,category,category-inside-mo-ffa,category-112,edgt-core-1.0,tribe-no-js,ajax_updown_fade,page_not_loaded,,has_general_padding,hudson child-child-ver-1.0.0,hudson-ver-1.6, vertical_menu_with_scroll,smooth_scroll,transparent_content,overlapping_content,grid_1300,blog_installed,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.12,vc_responsive
 

Inside MO FFA

Digging Deep

Republic FFA begins land restoration project

 

Just as crops are growing in the field, Republic FFA members are inside the classroom learning what it takes to run a sustainable row crop operation.

 

An opportunity cropped up when school administrators reached out to the FFA chapter for help.

 

“Our administrators were looking for a better way to take care of the land in front of our new high school,” said David Mareth, agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at Republic High School. “They came to us for help.”

 

For years, the FFA chapter had taken hay off of the extra land, Mareth said. However, administrators within the district were looking for more. Yet, if the FFA chapter was going to spend time restoring the land, they wanted it to be self-sustainable and profitable.

With 45 acres of open ground, Republic FFA began by no-tilling wheat into the soil to enhance the landscape surrounding the high school. Mareth explained how the students are working to manage the project and will eventually reap the benefits of what they sow.

 

Intertwining with the curriculum for Agricultural Science II, instructor and FFA advisor Ciara DeClue has enjoyed interacting with the students and encouraging their growth during the process. The project has sparked interest, and students are eager to learn.

 

“The kids are really excited,” DeClue said. “I am excited to see what it will grow into and how we will sell our product to farmers.”

 

DeClue explained how students will learn the process of restoring the land from poor to rich soil. The soil is in undesirable condition because of extensive excavation of the ground from when the high school was built.

 

From figuring out what to plant and when to plant it, to crop rotations, soil samples, Environmental Protection Agency studies, and waterway research, students are receiving the full experience, Mareth said. With the capability for hands-on learning, the project will continually give back to students in the chapter.

 

Additionally, they have created a two-year plan, budget, and profit margin analysis for their enterprise. This will give the students the confidence and knowledge to run an enterprise of their own one day, Mareth explained.

 

Currently, a local alumnus is assisting the chapter in spraying, cultivating, planting and harvesting the crop, Mareth said. The alumnus is donating his machinery and time to the project. Yet, the students’ work still comes in to play, providing the local alumnus with amounts for pesticide and seeds per acre and calculating potential harvest. Relying on producers in the area has allowed them to use resources to get their feet on the ground, he said.

 

“Having someone running it like it is their own will allow us to continue to plan while meeting the needs of the administration,” Mareth explained. “Any profit we make will go back into the next crop, making this a completely self-sustainable process.”

 

Looking to the future, the chapter plans to institute a wheat-soybean crop rotation. DeClue said once the soil is restored completely, they will then plant warm season grasses to harvest for a hay crop to sell to local farmers.

 

“I hope that students will experience a full rotation of crop,” DeClue added. “This will allow students to see the process all the way through.”

 

On a larger scale, Mareth said, the chapter will eventually purchase equipment. Once established, the chapter will be able to harvest for profit, giving the students a visual of how hard work truly pays off.

 

Additionally, other areas surrounding the high school will go into supporting the land restoration project and agriculture department. Mareth described future plans for starting a school herd of livestock. Students would then be able to conduct trials on the livestock using hay harvested on the school ground, while also using the manure to fertilize. Plans to establish a rotational grazing program are also on the horizon. That would allow students to see the process full circle and use their knowledge in other areas of crop and grassland management.

 

“This is only the first step in expanding the presence of our agriculture program on campus,” Mareth said. “Our administrators are excited about what we are doing.”

 

Mareth said administrators are raving about the results from the land restoration project results thus far. They enjoy that it is relevant, practical and real-world.

 

“The school is getting everything they wanted done, plus it is providing pride and education back into our agricultural program,” Mareth said.

 

While both Mareth and DeClue agree that the project hasn’t sunk in with students yet, they know chapter members are learning and growing alongside the crops they have planted. Once the students are able to see something in the field, Mareth and DeClue believe they will really see the process come to life.

 

“I think this can build excitement for the program because they can see what we are doing for the school and that they have an impact here,” DeClue said.

 

 

Read More

Skills to Last a Lifetime

Alumni Spotlight: Catching up with Doug Kueker

By Alison Bos-Lovins

Doug Kueker, Missouri FFA Alumnus

What has FFA taught you?

 

For alumnus Doug Kueker, his time in the National FFA Organization provided him with life lessons, skills and opportunities he uses every day in his career.

 

“My experience in the classroom, laboratory and through FFA helped me develop the skills and character traits everyone needs to be successful – communication, being a team player, positively influencing others, time management, responsibility and more,” Kueker said.

 

Kueker grew up on a small cow-calf and row crop farm in Sweet Springs, Missouri. He was very active in his FFA chapter, served as Missouri FFA President and was later selected as a National FFA Officer.

 

Serving as a state and national officer taught Kueker to respect the value of diversity and to seek to understand differences before jumping to conclusions. He was beyond honored to be selected by his peers to represent other FFA members at the state and national levels.

 

“Both of these humbling experiences broadened my perspective about the diversity of the agriculture, food, and natural resource industry in Missouri, as well as across the U.S.,” he explained.

 

Kueker’s journey as a state and national officer led him to experiences that he will never forget. His favorite experience as a state officer was traveling the state to Greenhand leadership conferences with his fellow state officers. He enjoyed working with young FFA members and helping them set goals for their career and leadership development. Kueker recalls hearing progress from students he worked with a few years later, which he said was a very rewarding feeling.

 

His experience as a national officer was also an inspiring venture for Kueker. He was humbled to represent members on a national level and see the passion members had for FFA.

 

“Traveling to different chapters across the state of South Dakota during FFA Week was one of my favorite experiences as a national officer,” Kueker explained. “Experiencing the enthusiasm FFA members have for the organization and for the future of agriculture firsthand was inspiring.”

 

Kueker admits that being a state and national officer was hard work. It required passion and drive. He explained that to earn the right to represent other FFA members in this capacity, one should be prepared to spend time investing in building the knowledge and skills it takes to lead effectively.

 

“Take time to reflect on what you have gained from FFA and why you feel it is important to encourage other FFA members to pursue their own development through the organization,” he said.

 

In addition to his FFA honors, Kueker received his agricultural education degree from the University of Missouri. After graduation, he worked for the National FFA Organization, where he created curriculum for national student conferences such as the Washington Leadership Conference. Additionally, he generated curriculum for professional development experiences for agricultural teachers. Kueker obtained a master’s degree in education from Purdue University and recently completed his PhD in Information Science and Learning Technologies from the University of Missouri.

 

Through his accomplishments, Kueker credits the FFA organization for shaping his future. Plus, he said FFA taught him that hard work and perseverance pay off.

 

“FFA helped me set goals and explore and discover my passions and talents,” Kueker said.

 

He has a passion for learning new things and developing others. An entrepreneur, Kueker took his passion and turned it into a successful business. His company, Vivayic, designs effective learning programs and educational materials that equip individuals with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to be successful. It offers services such as learning strategy and analysis; curriculum and program design; education program evaluation; and e-learning and content delivery.

 

“Simply put, my company Vivayic helps build others’ capacity to do good in the world,” Kueker said. “A majority of our work is with organizations who are striving to ensure a safe and sustainable food supply to feed the world, as well as groups and organizations who are working to make the K-16 education system more relevant and effective.”

 

Kueker continues to support the FFA organization today. He volunteers to help Missouri FFA organize and conduct national officer candidate interviews each year. He also works with FFA members at HYMAX academy and with area officers at the Area Officer Institute at Camp Rising Sun each summer. Plus, he and his wife, Emily, enjoy working with members of local chapters to help them prepare for contests and other FFA events.

 

Kueker advises FFA members to step outside their comfort zones. He encourages members to do that contest they do not think they can do. Additionally, he said FFA members should sign up to be on a committee to organize a chapter FFA event. He also charges members to interact with others at conventions or camps and bring back new ideas to their chapter.

 

“You’ll never know how much you are capable of until you step out of your comfort zone,” Kueker said.

Read More

They Make a Difference

Ag Teachers share passion for the industry — and their students

By Alison Bos-Lovins

Looking for a career in agriculture where you can make a difference in the lives of others? As the industry faces a national shortage of agricultural educators, those in the field share why they teach ag and why they want to see students succeed.

 

Agricultural education teachers share a common passion — to teach students about the importance of agriculture and see their students succeed.

 

Even though some instructors have years of experience and others are just starting their careers, agricultural educators understand their importance. They embrace the reality of a nationwide shortage of agricultural educators and know that more people need to consider agricultural education as a career.

 

Jarred Sayre, agricultural education instructor at Milan High School, has been teaching for 22 years. Sayre wants to instill hard work, dedication, and a passion for agriculture in his students.

 

“Agriculture education is so important because as a society we are growing further away from the farm,” Sayre said. “We live in a society that does not understand where our food comes from, the steps it takes to get it to the store, and the hard work put in by all facets of agriculture.”

 

Seeing his students succeed is one of the most rewarding aspects of Sayre’s job.

 

Another veteran teacher, Jason Dieckhoff, has been teaching at the Cass Career Center in Harrisonville for 15 years. He also hopes to instill the importance of agriculture in his students and teach skills needed in today’s workforce. Dieckhoff helps develop youth into productive and active participants in the future of the industry by implementing a well-balanced program for students to receive the full agricultural education experience.

 

“We need agriculture education so the future in our industry not only has the necessary set of skills and knowledge but also has the same set of core beliefs — a faith in the future of agriculture born not of words but of deeds,” he said.

 

Despite the pleasure both Sayre and Dieckhoff find in working with students, being an agricultural education instructor often is challenging. According to Sayre, one the biggest hurdles of his job is working with students who are not as motivated by success. Dieckhoff has found that the most challenging part of his job is adapting his teaching methods to fit interests of students today.

 

“Young teachers can relate better to high school students and are used to the technology and social media current students are using, “Dieckhoff said.

 

Emily Reed, an agriculture education instructor at Saline County Career Center, and Rylyn Small, who teaches agriculture at East Prairie High School, are early in their agricultural education careers. Their advisors and their FFA experiences helped aid in their decision to become agriculture teachers.

 

“My goal as a teacher is to allow all students to feel and find their place in the agriculture classroom,” Small said. “I have a passion for student success.”

 

Reed and Small know agriculture education is important and needed. They hope to instill a passion for agriculture and teach students how to be informed.

 

“With the world population continuing to climb, it is very important to have people who are ready to educate those who may not understand agricultural topics,” Reed explained.

 

Despite the importance of agricultural education, the nationwide shortage has teachers concerned. Dieckhoff, Sayre, Small, and Reed know the extensive hours, demands, stress, and salary compared to other agricultural jobs are factors that likely affect the shortage.

 

“We put in several hours above and beyond what is required of us,” Sayre stated.

 

Dieckhoff said, “To teach today, you truly have to possess a passion for youth. If you do not, you will not last long or be very happy.”

 

According to Reed, she knows how some teachers can suffer from burnout. Plus, there are more teachers retiring than young professionals graduating with degrees to fill positions.

 

Small encourages FFA members to consider a career in the field as he said it is one of the most rewarding jobs to have. Plus, he knows agricultural education is a necessity.

 

“We need FFA members that have a passion for the industry, FFA and students,” Small explained. “Be prepared to stress, have late nights and early mornings and sometimes no sleep. But also be prepared to impact students and watch students grow into strong leaders in the agriculture industry.”

 

Read More