Support your local “Team Ag”!
This guest blog is brought to you by Christy Vanderwende Wright. Christy grew up on her family farm, commonly known as “Little Wagon Produce” in Sussex County, Delaware and was active in 4-H and FFA. After graduating with an agricultural degree from the University of Delaware in 1997, she taught agriscience at the high school level. Currenly she is a program and policy analyst at Nemours Health and Prevention Services. She serves on many community boards and is a volunteer for CommonGround. To read more about Christy, visit her blog “Farmer Dan’s Daughter” or follow her on Twitter at @LilWagonChristy. She can also be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Autumn is a great time of year. It brings cooler air, fall foliage, and fall crops. It also marks the beginning of a new school year. Students across the country are settling in to a new school routine, which means hectic schedules full of homework, fall sports, and extra-curricular clubs. As a past agriscience teacher, I also think of 4-H and FFA members who are beginning new projects and leading new chapters. I often find myself wishing I could support them more and have struggled to do so in the past. So here are a few ideas of how we can all support our local “Team Ag”.
Just last spring, I was part of an effort to bring together alumni from previous Woodbridge High School FFA chapters. It was a tremendous turnout, with approximately 50 alumni and their families in attendance along with present FFA students and advisors. It was so nice for alumni to see how the current agriscience teachers have improved the quality of the entire agricultural program. It boasts an awesome animal science handling facility, a strong industrial arts/shop program and an impactful FFA officer team and chapter. This was all done in a 10 year span and I’m sure it wasn’t easy. Leaders of these programs need support, positive advocacy, and insight from those within the industry. An alumni group could be the perfect way to support these programs.
Last week I got a message for help from a previous ag student of mine. Her name is Stefanie Ralph and she happens to be an agriscience teacher herself, at Smyrna Middle School. She also happens to be a finalist for the competitive Delaware Teacher of the Year contest. Go Stef and go “Team Ag”! How could I help? Her students want to write an essay for the DE Farm Bureau essay contest; however, they need more insight as to what a farmer does in a typical day. What is their schedule like? What do they spend most of their time on? I thought this was a great question. We can’t just expect students to know this when they’ve never lived on a farm. It took me about 20 minutes to list a daily schedule for what several of my family members do in a typical day on a grain and produce farm.
As the farm work slows and winter creeps in, I encourage you to seek out your local FFA chapter or 4-H club to let them know you’re on the “Team Ag” side. I know there is plenty of work to be done in the winter with accounting bookwork, winterizing machinery, and ordering seed. But it may only take a few minutes to support your local youth organizations, too. How can you help? They may just need your perspective and insight, such as Stef asked of me. Or they may need you to serve on a committee, such as Woodbridge asked of me. Many FFA members are attending the National FFA Convention this week and could use an extra hand with training teams or possibly even an extra FFA jacket for their chapter. Pick up the phone and give them a call! You could even thank them for teaching agricultural curriculum and promoting the industry to our future generation! It only takes a few minutes to say go “Team Ag”!
For a list of current Delaware agriscience programs and advisors, see here.