My life, as shaped by agricultural education

In honor of National Teach Ag Day, I wanted to share my vision of the power of agricultural educators. As the daughter of an ag teacher, I was practically born in a blue, corduroy FFA jacket and had Ag Sales CDE practicums memorized better than the high school kids when I was 10. To this day, it catches me off guard when someone has never heard of high school agricultural education, since I was raised with it from day 1 – my dad’s first year teaching was the year I was born.

Growing up in the classroom, it was really easy to see the impact a single teacher can make on so  many students. When I was 5, I was at the meeting where my dad announced to his chapter officers that he would be leaving the school to take a new position. There were lots of tears and sadness — he had made such a difference in a few short years that these students obviously had formed a connection and did not want him to leave. In the years after we moved, I got to watch as he mentored students who went on to become USDA meat inspectors, agronomy researchers, 4-H leaders, and – like him – ag teachers. I also got to see his former students go on to become more important things, like husbands and wives, moms and dads, and friends. I like to think that, even though not solely responsible, ag teachers do play a role in developing youth so they can be the most successful in the latter roles.

I’m now a senior at Michigan State University and, like my dad, I am majoring in Agriscience Education. Next year, I will student teach with another great ag teacher and work to learn as much as I can about youth, education and agriculture. I’ll admit, I have my moments when I don’t know if being an agriculture teacher is the right career choice for me. Who knows, life may throw a curve ball my way and take me down another path. For the meantime, however, whenever I have one those ‘moments’ I think about my life with agricultural education and the difference ag teachers – including my dad – have made for me. It would be my greatest hope to make that difference for others.

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2 thoughts on “My life, as shaped by agricultural education

  1. Amanda says:

    I can imagine how tough it was on the students when he made the announcement he was leaving Charlotte. However, I’m beyond grateful that he made the decision to come to our chapter at the Career Center.

    Your Dad is an amazing educator and mentor. Without a doubt he has impacted my life more than any other teacher I’ve been in the classroom with. He fueled my passion for agriculture and helped to build my self-confidence to a level I never thought I’d see. He was also one of the few people who would tell me when I was making stupid decisions that could negatively impact my personal life. Without his influence, I would NOT be where I am today.

    You’ve always shown the drive, determination and tenacity that makes your Dad great. From the time your family came to Sanilac county I knew you would impact lives the way he has. Whether your path continues along in Ag Ed, or veers in a different direction, the people/students/colleagues you encounter WILL all come away from the experience better for it.

    • sollmana says:

      Amanda, I can’t express how great it has been to grow up knowing great students, like you, that have been in my dad’s classes. I know when I was little, I couldn’t wait to grow up and be just like all of you ‘big kids’ that were so cool 🙂 It’s been absolutely wonderful to see everyone go on in life, accomplish great things and start your own families. People like you, Nathan and Erin Clark, and Jeremy and Jill Sharrard are forever etched in my memories as students I wanted to emulate and I will be forever grateful for that fact. I know my dad has had a big impact on me, but it’s always so great to hear stories like yours. Thanks for your comment and I hope all is well with you and your family!

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