Teacher by Choice, not by Chance!

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 Dale Crabtree, Director of the Convention and Events Management Division.

Dale is from Southwestern Arizona and graduated from Kofa 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 Antelope Union High School in Wellton, AZ for eighteen years. During that time, the program evolved from a straight production agriculture program to a diversified agricultural business/college preparatory program.

As a former teacher of agriculture, I have truly grown to appreciate what each and every one of you does on a daily basis. I would hope that all of you know what powers you have, the powers to impact the lives of individuals who will guide the future of not only agriculture but also the world. It is critical that each of us realize that you truly do change lives of young people! Remember, we are a teacher by choice not by chance.

With this choice, come responsibilities.

  • The responsibility to make a difference in the lives of young people
  • The responsibility to be accountable for what we teach
  • The responsibility of being on the cutting edge of tomorrow’s agriculture

Today, more than ever, we need teachers to embrace the choice to teach and to attack the responsibilities with enthusiasm and energy. Because we made the decision to become teachers by choice, we must have the commitment and dedication to create, provide and develop solutions that will enable the highest educational experience possible. We owe it to the young people we work with day in and day out.

Today’s agricultural education profession faces challenges unlike anything I had to deal with during the 18 years that I was in the classroom. Now more than ever, we will need to band together to reach new and unprecedented heights for agricultural education.

Believe and trust in the ability of not only yourself, but also those around you. If given the opportunity to return to the classroom today, I would not hesitate to draw from those around me. It is crucial that each of us know that there are others who have and are facing the challenges we are facing. Do not be afraid to draw from them.

Sharing is a wonderful thing! If we will share, we will have a step up on the retention of teachers. We must promote the next generation while we celebrate the seasoned. Enjoy what you do, take advantage of professional development opportunities. Remember, however, that it is vital that we maintain a work/life balance!

The demand for accountability is present today unlike it has ever been. We are asked to teach to the total child. Integration of academics, math/science/reading is essential if we are to succeed and flourish. Preparing students for careers while creating the next generation of leaders is happening on a daily basis in our classrooms. We made a choice to be teachers, and we are proud of what we do and should not be afraid to prove what we do well.

Harry S. Truman shared with the world, “I have found the best way to advise children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” What a powerful statement, especially when we realize each and every one of us has that ability.

It is imperative that we not only tell ourselves each and every day, “We are teachers by choice and not by chance” but that we live that to the fullest.


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