Texas FFA News  
Why I Teach Ag: Patrick Padgett    
Thursday, October 15, 2020 | Author: Texas FFA News

What ag education classes do you teach?

I have taught pretty much everything over the years, but currently, I teach Principles of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, Livestock Production, Small Animal Production, Equine Science and Practicum in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources.

Why do you teach ag?
Agricultural education was not my career goal growing up. I wanted to farm with my father and grandfather. I planned to go to junior college and judge livestock and return home and raise corn and soybeans. Fate stepped in in the form of a livestock judging scholarship to go to Texas Tech University, so I decided to take it and explore that opportunity. At the time, I did not know how that decision would change my life. I chose to major in agricultural education because my junior college livestock judging coach told me that it would create more job opportunities than if I just went the animal science route. After a great student teaching experience at Idalou ISD in the spring of 2001 and the realization that the opportunity to go home and farm was not likely, I knew teaching was going to be my best bet in finding a career I enjoyed. Nineteen years later, I can't imagine doing anything else.

What is your favorite classroom memory?
My favorite classroom memory is getting to share that moment with students when they recite the FFA Creed in front of the class. The sense of pride and accomplishment is awesome to share with them. Even though they probably do not understand the impact that those five paragraphs will have on their life, I know they will look back and be thankful they memorized the FFA Creed and learned who E.M. Tiffany was and how his words impacted them.

What is your favorite FFA memory?
Hard to pick one, but winning the 2017 Texas FFA Livestock Judging CDE is my favorite. I owe where I am personally and professionally to my participation in livestock judging. From the age of 12-years-old, it paved the path for my success in high school and college. Without livestock judging, I would have never gone to Texas Tech University, met my wife, or developed my passion for teaching agriculture. I feel fortunate to get the chance to provide the same opportunities to my students and see them take advantage of what FFA has to offer and become successful in their own ways.

What advice would you give yourself as a first-year teacher?
The best advice I can give a young teacher is to ask many questions and be willing to accept that you will need help and advice from fellow teachers. I remember thinking I was pretty smart and that I was prepared, but reality quickly set in, and I realized there was a lot I needed to learn. Fortunately, I started my teaching career with an experienced teacher, Ben Alley at Troy ISD. He played a significant role in my success as he allowed me to do things my way but was there to give advice and save me when I got in over my head. It is essential to seek out those teachers who you feel are strong in areas that you are not and talk with them about your struggles. So, often young teachers are scared to ask or feel intimidated by older teachers and simply muddle through and learn the hard way or give up and leave teaching.

Why do you believe that ag education is so important?
No doubt, the importance of agricultural education to those involved in ag education is supreme and unwavering. Unfortunately, educational policies and administrative policies can significantly affect the importance of agricultural education at the local, state, and national level despite how passionate the ag teachers are. I have had a unique opportunity at Fredericksburg to see the extremes of the importance of agricultural education from the good to the bad. 

Fredericksburg at one time was a dominant force in the Texas FFA, winning many, many state CDE championships and banners in the show ring. By the time I arrived in the fall of 2011, those days were long gone, and the local attitude towards the agricultural education program was not positive. Through hard work, stubbornness, and a few administration changes, the program’s mindset has changed in all areas of our school and community. Because of agricultural education, our students in Fredericksburg get to go to countless local FFA events, the National FFA Convention, Washington Leadership Conference, and even Scotland and Ireland to represent our community and school. It is not necessarily the plaques, banners, and lessons learned that make agricultural education great. It is simply the opportunities that we give our students to strive to be better people that no other youth activity can provide.

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