10-12 Grade Teacher
Liberty Ranch High School, Sacramento County
This interview was originally published on CFAITC's blog, "The Fencepost."
How and when did you first learn of Ag in the Classroom?
I have known about Agriculture in the Classroom for years. I became more familiar with the organization since my involvement in pilot teaching the "Chemistry, Fertilizer, and the Environment" lesson plan.
How long have you been teaching students and why did you choose to become an educator?
I am currently in my third year of teaching. My father, Mark Clement, has been an agriculture teacher for 36 years in Paso Robles. My father showed me how being a teacher can impact the lives of hundreds of students. His impact, along with my experience in FFA, inspired me to pursue a career in agriculture education.
What is your favorite AITC program/resource/event and why?
I absolutely love the lesson plans and resources. They come in handy when I'm in need of fresh and new materials. I also enjoy being a part of the curriculum writing process. It is refreshing to meet with other educators and industry leaders to work on a common project.
What is the most profound impact that agriculture education/awareness has had on you?
Agriculture education has taught me a lot about how to be a positive influence on students. It has taught me patience, compassion and how to interact with different people. I love learning about teaching and discovering the best way to ensure that students learn the required material while being inspired, creative and curious in the classroom. The most amazing moments are when students realize that hard work results in success and they thank you for investing in them.
Has agriculture continued to impact the way you educate students?
Yes, as I continue to stay updated on the agriculture industry, I have approached different subjects differently. This is particularly relevant when I teach about agriculture issues to my agriculture government class. I present information and facts, but push students to develop their own opinions and justify them through debates, Socratic seminars and discussions.
Tell us about one person who has most influenced your own education and educational career.
Dr. Mollie Aschenbrener has impacted me greatly as a teacher. Because she was a colleague to my father, I have known her since I was a child. Then she was one of my agriculture teachers in high school. It was during this time that I developed tremendous respect for her as she exemplified a model teacher and coach. After leaving high school teaching to earn her Ph.D., I was fortunate to have her as a professor as an undergraduate at Chico State. Her teaching style and methods were involved, hands on and absolutely nothing like the typical college lecturer. I have adopted many of her teaching methods in my own classroom. I continue to learn from her today as she is once again my professor and academic advisor in the master's program at Chico State.
Tell us about a golden teaching moment.
Last year, one of my students had an agriscience project that made it to the national competition. She wasn't very excited about having to re-create her board and write and memorize a speech. I pushed her to get the work done. After several weeks of practice, she was ready for the competition. When she came back, she was incredibly thrilled and happy with the experience. She wouldn't stop telling me how rewarding and fulfilling the experience was and had it not been for all the hard work, she wouldn't have done so well (she placed fourth in the nation). She thanked me for pushing her and expecting excellence from her. That was a golden teaching moment.
Describe any agriculture-based projects you have been involved in lately.
I am heavily involved in the agriscience competition and have an ongoing environmental research project where students design environmentally specific agriscience projects and we present the findings to the community.
Do you have any advice for other teachers on implementing agriculture into the classroom?
Make it fun, relevant and hands on!
Why do you believe it is important for our students to be agriculturally literate and aware in today's society?
Students need to graduate high school with the abilities to read, write, think and vote. This includes relevant agriculture issues and general knowledge about the agriculture industry. If they are to be voting citizens, they need to understand the agriculture issues that can affect their lives and the American economy.