Texas FFA News  
Why I Teach Ag: Tracey Cortez    
Tuesday, January 15, 2019 | Author: Texas FFA News

What ag education classes do you teach?

Advanced Animal Science
Advanced Plant and Soil Science
Advanced Floral Design
Practicum in Agricultural Mechanics
Agricultural Mechanics and Metal Technologies

Why do you teach ag?
I teach agriculture to provide opportunities for students that they would not get anywhere else.  I understand that not every student will work in an agriculture field, but what drives me is the fact that agriculture education and the FFA can provide a firm foundation for students to build upon while in high school and after they graduate.  I hear constantly from former students about how their agriculture classes have helped them after graduation.

What is your favorite classroom memory?
Getting to skip the line at Franklin Barbecue, a famous restaurant in Austin, Texas that is known for its hours long wait time.  I reached out two summers ago to Aaron Franklin to see if he would be willing to host a group of students that were interested in building a BBQ pit and in cooking BBQ.  He agreed and once we arrived, he quickly shuffled us to the back of the restaurant and spent three hours talking with the students about pit designs and cooking.  He also fed us copious amounts of brisket which was a bonus.  

What is your favorite FFA memory?
Hands down my favorite FFA memories involves working with kids and livestock.  Over the years we have developed a swine program that allows students to participate in the swine industry from conception to consumer which has given students the opportunity to farrow and show their own livestock projects and be successful.  A couple of years ago we were able to win two breeds at our county show with pigs that students had breed, fed, and showed.

What advice would you give yourself as a first-year teacher?
As a first-year teacher I believe that you should invest most of your time in making instruction your top priority.  The best way to keep students, administration, and parents happy and engaged is to have an instructional program that is focused on the needs of the community and industry.  I firmly believe that the best recruitment tool is a strong instructional program.  Taking care of the classroom will eliminate a vast majority of the pitfalls that most first year teachers fall into.

Why do you believe that ag education is so important?
Agriculture education is important because it gives students the power, skills and knowledge to advocate for what I believe to be the most important industry in our society.  We need leaders in our country that understand how agriculture impacts every facet of our lives.

Do you have advice on balancing work/home life?
I struggle daily with balancing home and work life because my wife, Julia Ricicar, works right across the hall and sometimes the lines are blurred between work and home.  I believe that everyone should have a hobby outside of agriculture that they can engage themselves in to relieve stress and to stimulate their minds.  For me I like to go bass fishing and love the barbecue scene in Central Texas.

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