Texas FFA News  
Why I Teach Ag: Amy Hartman    
Thursday, April 15, 2021 | Author: Texas FFA News

What ag education classes do you teach?

I teach Floral Design, Advanced Floral Design, Principles of Ag, Career Prep.

Why do you teach ag?
My high school ag teacher, Martin Mueck, played a large role in my decision to become an ag teacher, even though it was not my intent when I went to college. After a short time in the ag business department at Texas A&M, I realized it was not where I was meant to be. I found myself in Dr. Chris Townsend's office changing majors, which brought me into Dr. Gary Briers' world. Through conversations with him about my time in FFA during high school, I decided to work towards a second bachelor's degree in agriculture science to become an ag teacher. I have to say it was by far one of the best decisions I've ever made.

What is your favorite classroom memory?

This one is probably the hardest to answer as there are so many great memories: students earning their TSFA Certifications, freshman building a chair in principles of ag when they were convinced they couldn't use power tools, or in career prep at the end of the year, there is always one student who tells me they are so glad they took my class so they could learn how to "adult.” But there is one memory that stands out from many years ago.

I received a college graduation invitation from a student I only taught for one year.  Along with the graduation invitation was a note from the student. They said originally they had planned to attend a junior college then transfer to a four-year university to finish their degree. She recalled I had talked about my time at A&M and how I was the only one from my graduating class to go, and how my first class was larger than my entire school. She said even though she wouldn't be the only one from her graduating class to go to A&M if she was accepted, she still wanted to apply and see if she could get in because my stories encouraged her. So she applied, was accepted, and four years later graduated with honors. This student wasn't involved in the FFA program, so my only time with her was in the classroom for one of the speech classes I taught, so I only had her in the fall of her senior year. I was surprised my limited time with her had such a tremendous impact on her life, which I was not even aware of until I received this invitation and note.

What is your favorite FFA memory?
There are so many to choose from over the years, from students winning national proficiency awards to state LDE contests, but my favorite may be something that kind of just happened.  In January 2021, the girl’s basketball team was going to honor the 2020 Ag Advocacy LDE team for winning the state contest. By chance, the team members who were on the 2018 state-winning advocacy team were at the game that evening. The members from the 2018 team presented the 2020 team with their banner since the new banners had not come in yet. What was originally going to be a nice moment to recognize the 2020 team became a special moment between the two teams, especially since there were two sets of sisters on the teams and we were able to get a picture with both teams together.

Why do you believe that ag education is so important?
Ag education is so important because it helps bridge the gap between producers and consumers. It is important we are able to provide a basic knowledge base to high school students about where their food comes from and how American agriculture provides a safe product for them at a low cost. Beyond the lessons of how the agriculture industry provides for our country and the worlds' population, I believe what we teach in our classes goes beyond. The soft skills we teach our members and students are an invaluable commodity that often is not recognized until they are in college or in the workforce. 

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