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Why I Teach Ag: Mindy Howard    
Tuesday, December 15, 2020 | Author: Texas FFA News
 



What ag education classes do you teach?

Principles of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources, Principles of Floral Design, and Greenhouse Operations and Production

Why do you teach ag?
Agriculture has been a big part of my life, as I grew up on a family farm in Haskell, Texas. I remember sitting on the arm of the chair in the tractor bouncing up and down listening to stories from my dad and grandad. When ma-maw and mom would come to the field with lunch we would sit on the truck tailgate, eat a sandwich, talk about what needed to be done, and tell stories about what happened that morning. Normally those stories were about something I did or should have done. Listening to their stories and learning first hand the hardships and the joys of agriculture made me excited for each day on the farm. While I always knew I wanted to do something in agriculture, my vision became clear after a very long talk with my ag teacher, Mr. James Bevel. He always believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. He told me to take the things I loved the most and put them together. I loved working on the farm, helping mom in the garden, and showing livestock. What better way to put it all together than becoming an ag teacher. Each day is a new day that brings something different to the table. I tell stories about the family farm and the lessons I learned. While many of these kids know their food comes from the grocery store, they don’t realize how it got there. Teaching them the hardships the farmer goes through for that little piece of joy each time they take a bite and every stitch of clothes on their back is important. I hope they take pride in what they have and not take it for granted.



What is your favorite classroom memory?
Last spring was a struggle for many teachers and, while it was a struggle for me as well, I could not have been any more proud of my kids in the Floral Design and Horticulture Science classes.  Our greenhouse was busting out of the seams with plants the kids had cultivated through cuttings, seeds, and plugs. They made fliers, took pictures of all the different plants for social media, and were in the process of making a promotional video for our plant sale when COVID struck. Unfourtautly, COVID was not our only hiccup along the way; there was some major construction going on at the high school. Little did we know COVID would have a positive impact on the situation. The construction crew was ahead of schedule so we needed to have everything out of the greenhouse several months early because they were tearing it down. With the approval of the administration, the kids rallied together and made the plant sell a huge success. They posted on social media, sent emails out, and spread the word near and far for the best plant sale to date. With the success we had, the construction crew relocated the greenhouse to the school farm so we could use it until we are able to get the new one up and running.



What is your favorite FFA memory?
I cherish many of the memories made over the years as an FFA advisor. The trophies, banners, and plaques are going to fade and tarnish at some point, but the time you have with the kids is the most important. Building relationships and helping kids discover their potential is exciting. However, nothing compares to something which hit closer to home. Recently our small community lost a very special lady that loved FFA. Her kids were very active members, serving as district and area officers and participated on several teams. You can say while this family was very much Aggie fans, they also bleed blue and gold. After her passing, the family contacted me and asked if some former FFA members would be willing to put the FFA jacket on one more time to carry that special lady to her resting place. I called kids who were on several teams with her kids and knew the family well. With no hesitation, they stepped up to the plate.  As I sat there looking up and down the church pew of all these kids that come to pay their respects I could not have been any prouder of my FFA kids. As we laid that sweet lady to rest these amazing kids took their greenhand pins and placed them with the special lady as she took her journey home.



What advice would you give yourself as a first-year teacher?
The advice I would give myself would be not everything is going to go your way. There are going to be hiccups along the way and your lesson plans are not always going to go as planned. I teach three of the same classes each day and I don’t end or start at the same place with each class because they are all different in some way or another. I am very much a planner and I try to be organized as much as possible, but sometimes things slip. Another big piece of advice is, don’t be afraid to call for help. I call people all the time to bounce ideas off and ask questions.  While I know times are becoming more technology-based through emails and text messages, there is nothing wrong with picking up the phone and calling for help.

Why do you believe that ag education is so important?
I feel agriculture education is important because we are getting further away from traditional farming. Agricultural science education is going to help keep the generation gap from closing up on us.  As we take a look into the future, we are going to depend on the kids in these ag classes.  While we hope that the kids in our classroom are going into the agriculture field, we have to realize some of them will be choosing different paths, all of which still benefit in some way from agriculture classes. We are helping create responsible and dedicated individuals who will one day be taking care of us.
 

 
   
 
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