Lea Michele and PETA? Please say it ain’t so…

For anyone who knows me even the littlest bit, you know that I am a huge fan of Glee. I have always been a huge fan of musicals (on stage and film) and a weekly musical on my television is everything I could have asked for. The great songs, the snarky humor…I love it all. I find myself looking forward to Tuesday nights (probably to the dismay of some of my #agchat friends!) for that hour when I can sing along, be absorbed in the high school story line and pretend that I, too, can someday live in a world where people burst out in song. 🙂

Which is why it dismays me so to know that Lea Michele, who plays the gotta love her-gotta despise her lead Rachel, is both a vegan and an avid supporter of PETA. This tweet came through my stream the other day and I couldn’t help but be saddened:

Hey guys! Check out my new @peta campaign and join us in boycotting horse drawn carriages! http://ht.ly/3yeZc

See, I love Glee, but I really love agriculture – which PETA is fundamentally opposed to. I know that not everyone in the cast probably supports Lea’s beliefs and decisions (although, she was giving away cast-signed items for the campaign. Not sure if they really choose where that stuff goes), but I also know that by supporting the show, I support her ability to support an organization that is opposed to my beliefs and lifestyle. It’s a very hard thought to wrangle with.

I think the hardest part for me is to go back and forth with whether what celebrities believe in their personal life should or should not be separated from what they do professionally. Carrie Underwood is a vegetarian and regularly partners with PETA. Does that mean she’s not a great singer? Does that mean people shouldn’t go to her shows where she puts on a great act and represents country music to the best of her ability? Would people think I can’t do a good job in my professional life because of a personal decision I make (religion, marriage, etc.)? I don’t know.

What do you do when you learn that a celebrity supports a group like PETA or HSUS? Carrie Underwood, Lea Michele, Kelli Pickler…they’re not the first or the last to go down this road as vegetarianism and veganism continues to become the coolest trend in Hollywood.

I’ll admit, it’ll be really hard for me to give up watching Glee, but I know some people are willing to make that boycott. I’d love to hear some other thoughts and opinions, as I know it’s something agriculture will continue to face and have to deal with.

Cheering a losing team…now that’s dedication!

When my boyfriend and I watch our beloved Spartans play, we tend to have different attitudes when they’re losing. Yesterday, we got to experience this difference full force when the guys went down (rather painfully) to Alabama 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl.

See, when our team is losing by a lot, Mitch tends to want to turn the TV off and find something else to do. His point is ‘Why do you want to put yourself through this? It’s not going to get any better!’. I, however, tend to leave the television on and watch until the end. Yes, it’s probably just masochism where football is involved, but that dedication is kind of part of my personality.

When I start something, I can’t help but follow through until it’s completed. That was instilled in me by my dad when I was little. Even if we started a sport or project that we ended up not liking or wasn’t going well, we didn’t get to stop in the middle of a season or leave our teammates hanging. Today, even when I take on too much, I feel a sense of responsibility to keep pushing until I’ve finished what I committed to doing.

I think that’s a trait that’s heavy in agriculture (even if Mitch doesn’t like it where it’s related to the Spartans!). Farmers and other agriculturalists stick through weather, tough markets, family challenges and more – no matter what it takes, because they’ve made a commitment to providing Americans with a safe and consistent food supply. I hope that a new generation of agriculturalists, including young farmers, gardeners and those joining the local food movement, carry this characteristic with them as they face struggles to reach success.

Now, I shouldn’t beat Mitch up too bad. There is also something to be said for people who recognize something is not working, ditch it and move on to the next thing that could be a success. I actually think there’s a little of both personalities in most of us. What about you? Are you one to cheer on your team even though they’re dying a slow, painful death? Or do you realize that your time could be better spent by moving on?

Suggestions for ag education at Michigan State

To say I’m a little bit opinionated when it comes to my major is probably a little bit of an understatement. Being the daughter of an equally opinionated ag teacher, I’ve been privy to knowing what’s going on with agricultural education at Michigan State for a good long while. I’ve heard about it when things go good and when things go….well, not so good. In my 4 1/2 years as a Spartan, I’ve watched the major change and shift – for better or for worse – and have made my opinions known on more than one occasion.

Hey, no one ever made a change by keeping their trap shut.

Teacher preparation programs around the country are changing and Michigan State is no different. As I begin the end of my undergraduate career, I want to bring to the forefront not complaints, not whining, but rather suggestions of how I think agricultural education can improve – instead of weaken – to make sure that our high school students have access to valuable lessons, skills and knowledge about the industry that every single one of us relies on day in and day out.

1. Develop ‘how to teach’ courses

My fellow students and I have talked about these types of courses for years, but we’re still waiting for something to come to fruition. As a part of the coursework in ag ed, we take lots of content-based classes – Introduction to Animal Science, Crop and Soil Science 101, Genetics, Biology….you get the picture. However, just because you know about the subjects doesn’t mean you can teach them to someone else (if you’ve ever been in a college classroom with a really smart prof who is a really bad teacher, you totally understand). We think it would be great if there was a series of courses or seminars that were basically ‘How to teach _________’ (fill in the blank: animal science, agronomy, agriscience, natural resources, plant science, bioenergy, etc.). We could learn different types of labs, best practices for experiments and projects, ideas for how to branch out of typical curriculum, etc. This could also be a great place for ‘How to coach the __________ contest’ or ‘How to fill out proficiency and degree applications’ for FFA and SAE related things. Right now we have the content and then we’re shoved into the classroom. There is not enough time in the senior level courses to make all the connections that would make great teachers. Even if they were only a series of 1 credit, 10-week courses….there needs to be that bridge.

2. Hire faculty

The College of Ag and Natural Resources took a good first step by hiring a new faculty member and a new academic specialist in ag education in the past three years. However, if the University is going to continue to be the premier school for getting certified in agricultural education (and out-of-state schools and new in-state programs threaten that), faculty who are there to teach classes (read: TEACH, not research) and work with students one-on-one are going to be absolutely necessary.

3. Value the opinions of students and alumni

Over the past 10 years, agricultural education (and ag communications) have been moved to a different department and renamed – all against the better recommendations of current students and alumni. While many factors have played into the decline in student numbers in these programs, these changes have not helped. As the college looks at yet another restructuring, it’s imperative that administration actually LISTENS to the opinions of stakeholders in ag ed and ag comm. I have been looked at by a faculty member when the major changed names and was told ‘This doesn’t affect you, so don’t worry about it.’ That cannot be the attitude of the major, the department or the college. If it is, current ag teachers will continue to recommend that their students attend other schools to get degrees in agricultural education.

4. Be creative

I had no idea that someone could get a degree in something other than Agriscience (now Environmental Studies and Agriscience) – like Animal Science or Crop and Soil Sciences – and still become an ag teacher. There is a huge number of potentially great teachers out there if we make it a mission to show that the opportunity exists. We also need to publicize ag education to those individuals who may not have had a traditional ag ed/FFA experience. In the College of Ag and Natural Resources, there are tons of people who have been great leaders and members of 4-H or grew up on farms or have an interest in local agriculture, bioenergy and beyond. These people would make great additions to the agricultural education family and we need to make a conscious effort to seek them out.

5. Show you value agricultural education

In a system where budgets are being chopped and streamlining seems the only option, Michigan State and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources needs to make a conscious effort to put their money where their mouth is. I know money is tight, but you put what you have towards the programs you value. As ag ed gets shoved to a concentration within a major, into the corner of a new department (or an existing department – we’ll see), it’s hard for students to feel like they’re cared about, like they can be successful because the college isn’t doing a very good job of supporting them. Things like faculty and academic specialist positions, expanded recruiting efforts, rebuilding alumni support, networking with ag ed people at other universities, developing valuable courses – all of these things would go a long way in growing students’ faith in the program.

I know I don’t live in the world of administration, budgets and decision-making right now. However, I know that I’ve experienced agricultural education as a student and that experience is valuable as well. I’d love to hear from students at other schools, faculty and anyone else who has an opinion on the topic. We’ve got a long road ahead of us if we’re going to rebuild agricultural education at Michigan State back into a program that everyone is proud of, but – for now – I think there’s still people willing to try.

2010 in review

WordPress gave me this neat little summary for 2010 and I figured I’d share it with you all! Enjoy!


The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 35 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 40 posts. There were 15 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 21mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 19th with 73 views. The most popular post that day was The Foundation, the Sponsors, and the Important Stuff..

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, facebook.com, hootsuite.com, cheaptravelstyle.com, and refzip.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for family, judging dairy heifer, “clay rightmer”, farmer paul, and texas farmers.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


The Foundation, the Sponsors, and the Important Stuff. July 2010


About October 2009


Resume January 2010


Michael Pollan at Michigan State February 2010


One hashtag, one community, one passion. September 2010