Seeing the light come on…

In honor of Teach Ag Day, we’ve invited a few of the former Ag teachers we have on staff at the National FFA Center to tell us what makes teaching ag such a rewarding experience. Here are some thoughts from Kevin Keith, Local Program Success Specialist.

Kevin is from Northwestern Wisconsin and graduated from Bruce High School in 1974 where he was actively involved in Vocational Agriculture and the FFA for four years.  He served as an agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor at Denmark School in Denmark, WI for seven years. During his years as Ag Ed Instructor and FFA advisor the Denmark FFA Chapter grew to more than 470 members and the FFA Alumni grew to over 600 members. He also served as State Agricultural Education Consultant in Wisconsin for 11 years before joining the National FFA Organization in 1996.

My favorite memories of teaching agriculture come from the times I worked with students on new concepts or information, especially when they had trouble understanding or making that “thing” work properly.

When the concept, tool, or process was finally understood, it was seldom that the student verbalized their understanding. You could tell that they’d finally “gotten it” by the look in their eyes. It was a look of understanding, accomplishment and satisfaction. It was a very special moment that contributed to making them want to learn more. Often, this experience was what lit the lamp of enthusiasm and got the student on the track to leadership, involvement, and positivity.

Seeing some of these same students years later involved as leaders in the FFA Alumni, in their local school and town boards,in their civic organizations and in their church groups, and still being able to see that first light of understanding and self-confidence, made any potential negative encounters I may have had melt away.

I’m certain that I am not alone in thinking that many of my most memorable experiences in my life are those I hold so dear as a local agricultural education instructor, and are due in part to the contact with not only the students and the teachers in that school, but also the parents, business persons, farmers, and other members of the community that were so key to the successes of that local program.

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