FFA, SAE, Ag Ed….What are you talking about?!

Did you know that high schools all over the country are teaching students about agricultural science? Historically known as ‘vocational agriculture’, agricultural science teachers are working to educate youth on where their food and natural resources come from utilizing scientific principles, including biology, chemistry and physical sciences. These courses also aim to prepare students for their future by developing leadership skills through membership in the National FFA Organization and experiential learning with Supervised Agricultural Experiences, or SAEs.
As a way to bring together agricultural education (aka: ag ed) teachers from all over the country, I have been working with Drew Bender, an agriscience teacher from Ohio, to develop #AgEduChat–a bi-weekly Twitter-moderated conversation about all things related to ag education. Developed similar to other Twitter chats like #agchat and #blogchat, #AgEduChat aims to encourage dialogue between ag education teachers, students and teachers about issues and topics affecting our profession.
Below is an e-mail from Drew about the chat. If you have more questions or are interested in participating but don’t know how, let Drew or me know!
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As we all know, education is an everchanging field. Instructional strategies, assessments, and technologies are much different than what was used 5-10 years ago.  5-10 years from now education is going to be much different than today even. It is changing so fast it is sometimes hard for teachers young and old or even students learning to be teachers to keep up with the new trends.

I am sure we all want an easier way to locate and begin interacting with one another to ask questions and share teaching ideas, resources, and other tips and tricks for others. With those in mind, some of us involved in agricultural education across the nation have decided to start #AgEduChat* and we want you to join us.

#AgEduChat will be a bi-weekly fast-paced, thought provoking chat using Twitter to stream the discussion.  We will use #AgEduChat to discuss and address what is going on in education and specifically agricultural education.  Topics will range from classroom management to student motivation to FFA to parent/community involvement and many others. We are looking forward to addressing any topics or issues that you may have questions about or expertise in that we can share with others.

Our first #AgEduChat will be Sunday November 7th from 7:00-8:00 PM EST.

If you have any questions please contact, via Twitter, @DrewBender or, via GMail, if you do not have a Twitter account – bender.140@gmail.com to learn how to set up an account.

Also, for tips and tricks on to set-up a Twitter account or to better understand how to use it, please use the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s Social Media Guide.

*#AgEduChat is what is considered a hashtag used on Twitter to allow users to tag a post and share a personal perspective on a topic. They are designated by the “#”, followed by a tag.  Using hashtags allows Twitter users to search for the conversation streams and communities on Twitter.

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What if you don’t want to be social?

Okay, so that title’s a little misleading. Of course, I think everyone should be social to some extent. You need to be able to conduct an interview, carry on a conversation with someone and be able to justify why you make certain decisions. For me, those are aspects of “being social” that everyone should be capable of. For this blog, however, I’m talking about a different type of being social:

Social media.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s a phrase we’ve heard a billion and ten times and if you’re reading a blog (which I hope you are, for my sake), it’s highly likely that you’re involved in social media yourself. You’re probably on Facebook, Twitter or maybe LinkedIn. For those of us that seem to spend a lot of time on the web, statistics show that social media sites are where a lot of that time is being spent.

But what if you don’t want to spend your time in social media?

A few weeks ago, I was given the chance to present in one of my classes about social media and how I’m using it professionally. For those of you that read this blog frequently or know me from another site, you’re pretty familiar with the fact that my passions lie in education and communication about agriculture. You might even know that I try to be very active in the #agchat community on Twitter, participate in College Aggies Online and use my Facebook as an “agvocacy” vehicle in addition to personal use. These were the types of things I got to share with my class and I absolutely loved it. I mean, this is the stuff that gets me geeked!

Which is why I was so surprised when I was asked, “I don’t really want to be in social media. Does that put me at a disadvantage?”

Huh. I’ve been so wrapped up in the idea that millenials my age love the Internet so much and so MUST love social media that…I guess I’d never thought about it before.

The student who asked the question proceeded to share with me why he had no interest in a social media presence. First off, he was well aware of the fact that anything you put online is there for good. He didn’t want to run the risk of posting something somewhere that may come back and haunt him later. Second, he doesn’t really categorize himself as a super social person (and that’s not a bad thing) and doesn’t see the need for social media in his career. His degree will be in forestry and he plans to pursue a career where he works outside a lot of the time, mostly by himself. Finally, he was very blunt about the fact that he doesn’t like how, in today’s society, you don’t find the news because the news finds you. For him, staying offline as much as possible is a way to prevent that.

Now, this really got me thinking. Is social media for everyone? Should all college students have to learn how to utilize social media for their professional advancement? Are there careers that could really care less if you know how to use Twitter or Facebook?

My answer to the student was that I didn’t necessarily think he was at a disadvantage if he chose not to be online, but he may be missing out on opportunities that are there (I used finding job and internship notifications as an example). It could also depend on the job whether you’re at a disadvantage or not. For me, being in communications, I think it would be a major disadvantage. For him, however, I could see where it really wouldn’t matter. I also pointed out that I’m all for being able to choose whether you want to have an online presence or not. I don’t believe anyone should be forced into having a Facebook or Twitter account if you don’t want to and was disappointed to hear that there are professors who are making students create these accounts for class, without giving them another option if they don’t want to. For me, that’s a personal choice you should be allowed to make without your grade depending on it.

What do you think? Did I give him the right answer? Are those seeking jobs and internships at a disadvantage if they don’t know how to utilize social media or if they refuse to?