USDA Launches New Website for New Farmers and Ranchers

#NewFarmers_KidField

Farmers work hard. They work to produce food that will eventually be on our dinner plate, while dealing with unpredictable weather, long hours and countless risks. New farmers face more obstacles with starting their operations with acquiring land, equipment and capital as well as learning about regulations and insurance policies.

With these new challenges, the U.S. Department of Agriculture hopes to guide the next generation of farmers for their future careers. As FFA members are also preparing to be future leaders in the industry, USDA’s New Farmers website could be used as a valuable resource. Continue reading

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Day By Day: 2014 FFA Costa Rica Travel Seminar

The Costa Rica Proficiency and Stars Travel Seminar empowers FFA leaders by providing them with a global perspective. Through this experience, participants gain knowledge by visiting farms and agribusinesses. This travel seminar is available to proficiency finalists and star finalists.

Day 1 – Friday, June 13

A three hour flight from Miami to Costa Rica took 63 national FFA Proficiency Stars and finalist, accompanied by advisors and national staff, to the start of their Costa Rican adventure.

After a dash through customs and to two charter buses, the group was headed toward InBioparque, an ecological park created by Costa Rica’s institute of biodiversity. Every member of the group enjoyed an ethnic Costa Rican lunch, fruit fresher than ever, plus some rice and beans. Once finished with lunch members were briefed on Costa Rica’s unique environment. Members then had the chance to explore the four different forest types found in Costa Rica, encountering a number of animal species native to the tropics. Continue reading

SAE Shortcuts, Part 4: “How Can I Use My SAE?”

sae sshortcutsSupervised Agricultural Experiences are critical to every FFA member. They give students real world experience in career fields and exhibit talents that help set them apart. 2012-13 National FFA Secretary Kalie Hall has created a four-part series designed to show why an SAE is important, answer common questions and more.

7-8-09_118SAEs give FFA members real world experience that can help accomplish the third part of the FFA mission: career success. Sooner or later, each of us will be looking for a part-time job, summer internship, or our first full-time job after college. Most prospective employers will ask us to submit a résumé that will hopefully result in a job interview. FFA members can use SAEs through both résumés and in interviews to show a potential employer what they can bring to a company or organization.

Andy Armbruster, the U.S. Learning and Development Lead for Monsanto and former national FFA officer shared this advice:

“For current FFA members, it’s imperative that they have the ability to articulate what they have learned, risked and succeeded at with their SAE. FFA members should be ready to talk about successes and failures with their SAEs when they interview for jobs and scholarships. Continue reading

SAE Shortcuts, Part 3: “How Do I Grow?”

sae sshortcuts

Supervised Agricultural Experiences are critical to every FFA member. They give students real world experience in career fields and exhibit talents that help set them apart. 2012-13 National FFA Secretary Kalie Hall has created a four-part series designed to show why an SAE is important, answer common questions and more.

During the last SAE shortcut, I wrote about how FFA members must set their Supervised Agriculture Experiences on F.I.R.E. To me, FFA members must find an interest, invest time and resources, and record the experiences, and of course…

dhe_hensley_photo_2E – Expand it!

Ask youself: How can you make your SAE better?

That’s exactly what Brias from Arkansas asked when looking at his business, Brias’ Vegetables and Herbs. He discovered that it was hard to control the temperature on the inside of his greenhouse, so he identified some equipment that could help him improve control, plant growth, and profitability. Brias applied for and received an SAE grant. He purchased new climate control features like a circulation fan, exhaust fan, thermostat, speed dial to control the fans, new greenhouse film, a heater, and a few other supplies. These improvements have enabled him to have the most productive production season he has ever had this past spring. This fall he is selling mums, pansies, ornamental cabbage and kale, pumpkins, and gourds.

How can you increase quality, size, or profit in your SAE? Continue reading

SAE Shortcuts, Part 2: “How Do I Get Started?”

sae sshortcuts

Supervised Agricultural Experiences are critical to every FFA member. They give students real world experience in career fields and exhibit talents that help set them apart. 2012-13 National FFA Secretary Kalie Hall has created a four-part series designed to show why an SAE is important, answer common questions and more.

This year’s theme is “Ignite,” so it’s time to set your SAE on F.I.R.E.!

F – Find an interest.

7-8-09_118There are 49 different areas of interest into which your SAE could fall. It might be a job placement, a research program or  entrepreneurship, like Ansley from Georgia. By participating in the Floriculture Career Development Event, Ansley discovered she enjoyed making floral arrangements. She took this into her SAE and created her own floral business, Akin for Flowers.

Sage from Arizona also has an ownership SAE, having her own beehive and selling honey at a local farmers’ market. Part of Sage’s SAE is also placement; she works for other beekeepers in her area.  FFA members from the Omaha Bryan chapter in Nebraska work at the zoo! The possibilities are endless. How about a research SAE? It can begin with virtually any interest — mechanics, plants, food science, animals, biofuel, genetics — just start asking questions!  How could I make this grow faster? Last longer? More nutritious? More environmentally friendly? Produce more consistent results? More profitable?

Make a guess, or a hypothesis then design and conduct an experiment to test your guess. Continue reading

SAE Shortcuts, Part 1: “What’s in it for me?”

sae sshortcuts

Supervised Agricultural Experiences are critical to every FFA member. They give students real world experience in career fields and exhibit talents that help set them apart. 2012-13 National FFA Secretary Kalie Hall has created a four-part series designed to show why an SAE is important, answer common questions and more.

FFA bottle feed goatSAE, Supervised Agricultural Experience.

Many of us have memorized this acronym for an FFA knowledge test, but what does it really mean? An SAE is a personal project where we take an interest from the agriculture classroom outside of the classroom into a work or research experience.

“So, what’s in it for me?”

1. Give a future career a trial run.

Dalton from Arizona is interested in becoming an agriculture teacher, so he started an SAE that helped him explore a part of that career. Dalton designed a research project to test how much middle school students in his area knew about agriculture. He pre-tested students’ agricultural knowledge, taught agriculture lessons and surveyed students’ interest in agriculture after the lessons. He determined that a middle school program would be a good fit and got to practice teaching! Win – win! Continue reading

National Teach Ag Day: Sept. 26, 2013

nation teach ag day head

Three critical components make up the experience of any of the more than half-million FFA members nationwide: agriculture classroom instruction, supervised agriculture experiences and the FFA chapter. It’s better known as the three-circle model, and it prepares students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resource systems.

That model would completely fall apart if one integral ingredient wasn’t there: the agriculture teacher. Currently there is a national shortage of agricultural educators at the secondary level. It is estimated that there will be hundreds of unfilled positions across the United States this year, simply because not enough students are choosing to be agricultural educators.

Filling that need is exactly why the National Association of Agriculture Educators (NAAE) is hosting National Teach Ag Day on Thursday, September 26, 2013.

Here’s a rundown on everything you need to know about National Teach Ag Day: Continue reading

What Does a Veterinarian Do?

Large Animal Vet

Most of us think of veterinarians as being the medical caregivers for our pets, and that’s a true statement: Small-animal veterinarians represent more than 65 percent of all vets nationwide.

Those pet owners should bring their animals to a vet once a year for an annual checkup and necessary shots. But performing these check-ups is part of a small-animal veterinarian’s daily routine.

But did you know there are other specializations for veterinarians? Some veterinarians focus more on large animals, mostly farm animals. Large-animal vets often perform farm visits to do herd health checks or to treat a sick animal. These veterinarians often have a specialized truck, which holds medicines, equipment and other supplies necessary for these mobile services.

Click to check out a slideshow about veterinarians 

2013 National Proficiency Finalists Announced

Ken Quick, 2011-12 National Eastern Region Vice President, shakes hands with Emily J. Von Edwins, a national finalist in veterinary science at the 85th National FFA Convention & Expo.

Ken Quick, 2011-12 National Eastern Region Vice President, shakes hands with Emily J. Von Edwins, a national finalist in veterinary science at the 85th National FFA Convention & Expo.

The list of FFA members from across the country who have been named national finalists for Agricultural Proficiency Awards is now available.

The Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who, through supervised agricultural experiences, have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers. Continue reading