The Hoot, Fall 2017
Celebrating the Past, Present and Future of Agricultural Education
For over 100 years, the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education (AEE) has witnessed thousands of students go through our programs and join the ranks of AEE and University of Idaho alumni. These alumni have dedicated their careers and lives to furthering the agricultural industry in Idaho and across the country.
AEE alumni have done this by serving in a variety of roles. They have worked as secondary and postsecondary agriculture instructors; chapter and state FFA advisors, National FFA staff members, school administrators, county and area extension educators, county and state 4-H educators, political lobbyists, agricultural industry leaders and more. They have worked on the local, county, regional, state and even international levels. AEE alumni have truly served the agricultural industry for the past century.
Two more of these outstanding alumni were honored recently at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ Alumni Awards Luncheon, Mr. Ron Richard and Dr. Pat Whittington. Ron and Pat have taken different paths in life, one working closely in Animal and Veterinary Science while the other an associate dean, they have both dedicated their lives to the service of others and never forgotten their roots in agricultural education.
Due to their passion for agriculture and dedication to helping others, they were both recipients of the CALS Distinguished Alumni Award. More information about this honor and the recipient's exceptional careers can be found within the pages of this newsletter.
These two outstanding individuals join a long list of AEE alumni who have impacted the agricultural industry and will continue to make significant contributions in the future. We look forward to adding more alumni to our ranks and recognizing their accomplishments in the years to come.
As we move into the second half of the semester, we celebrate the accomplishments thus far and look forward to those to come. AEE is proud to recognize the work our faculty, staff, and students are doing to further the development of agricultural education in Idaho and beyond. I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter and as always, Go Vandals!
Jim Connors, Department Head
Department of Agricultural and Extension Education
Jeremy Falk Selected as Teach Ag Champion
Each year, the National Teach Ag Campaign formally recognizes individuals and organizations who work tirelessly to address the national demand for agriculture teachers, as Teach Ag Champions. Teach Ag Champions are selected based upon their exceptional work in identifying the needs of their states and implementing effective strategies to recruit and retain high quality and diverse agriculture teachers. This year, Jeremy Falk, associate professor for agriculture and extension education at the University of Idaho, was named one of the two 2017 National Teach Ag Champions recipients.
Jeremy Falk was selected as a Teach Ag Champion for his work at both the state and national levels to address the demand for agriculture teachers. He developed an agriculture teacher trading card activity that is currently being used across the country to help recruit and retain agriculture teachers, while allowing agriculture teachers to tell their Teach Ag story to students and others through their cards. Falk started and coordinates the Region I National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) Preservice Agriculture Teacher Track and serves as a valuable asset of the National Teach Ag Campaign Advisory Board for his forward thinking and innovative ideas. As a former agriculture teacher, Falk understands the importance of cultivating the next generation of leaders, problem solvers, entrepreneurs and agriculturalists that begins with developing high quality and diverse agriculture teachers.
— Written by Project Director Ellen Thompson, National Teach Ag Campaign
Four students are undertaking undergraduate research this fall, with each project meriting grants from the University of Idaho. With the guidance from Kasee Smith, students are able to explore in depth topics and gain hands on experience. The students and their research topic are listed below:
- Examining Factors Related to Agriculture Educator Decisions to Stay in the Profession — RyAnna Carter
- Describing the Grit and Optimism of High School — McKenna Ford and Bishal Thapa
- Consumer Perceptions of Agriculture — Maggie Elliot
By the Numbers
- Number of undergrads in AEE: 116
- Number of students majoring in Agricultural Education: 57
- Number of students majoring in Ag Science, Communication and Leadership: 53
- Number of graduate students in AEE: 6
- Number of students with jobs at graduation: 100 percent
- Number of undergrads in AEE on the Dean’s List (3.5 GPA): 29
- Number of scholarships specifically for AEE students: 10
— Renee Hanson
The Ag Days Livestock Judging competition annually attracts high school teams from all over the region. Collegiate FFA facilitated this event, providing practice to over one hundred high school students from across three different states.
This year the event also served as the first round of the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education’s Teach Ag Championship, a competition for CFFA members.
The Teach Ag Championship is a year long round robin style competition designed to test participants ability in a multitude of agricultural disciplines. The goal is for participants to expand their horizons and better prepare them for their future careers in the agricultural industry. From assembling floral arrangements to extemporaneous speaking, tractor driving and welding skills, each contest will help prepare future agricultural instructors for a profession which demands diverse ranges of expertise. While only in its second year, Teach Ag Championship has already made a lasting impact on its participants.
“The Teach Ag Championship gave me the opportunity to strengthen skills I was not exposed to in high school,” said agricultural education senior Erin Peek. “Competing against your peers is a fun way to challenge yourself and try new things.”
There are six more competitions scheduled for the year. Contests include: debugging engines, public speaking, floral deign, food science, a knowledge test and driving a truck with a trailer. The next contest, debugging engines, is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 28. While there are seven competitions, participants only need to attend five to be in the running for the top prizes. Winners will be announced at the CFFA Spring Banquet in April. The top five contestants receive soft shell jackets as well as bragging rights for the year.
More information about the Teach Ag Championship can be found in the Agricultural & Extension Education building, adjacent to Wolf’s office. There, participants can find rules, resources and upcoming event information. If you have additional questions, contact Teach Ag Championship coordinator, McKenna Ford, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Written by Maggie Elliot and Liz Bumstead
Each year, the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences recognizes outstanding alumni for their achievement and excellence. At the 2017 Alumni Awards Luncheon two outstanding alumni from the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education were recognized for such achievement, Dr. Pat Whittington and Ron Richard. Both were recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award. In order to receive this award recipients must a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences who are 20 years past their first degree. Recipients may be retired or active but must have shown outstanding community service and a distinguished career in agriculture, family and consumer sciences or a related field with peer recognition.
Dr. Pat Whittington received his master’s in agricultural education in 1972. He later completed his doctoral in higher education administration, also from the University of Idaho. Following the completion of his degree, Dr. Whittington continued in academia at The Ohio State University where he currently serves as the assistant dean for student development in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. In this role, Dr. Whittington provides leadership to his college’s scholarship program, totaling nearly $3 million dollars. He has also developed and strengthened the college’s honors program and provided leadership to the undergraduate research program. Additionally, Dr. Whittington continues to provide leadership as a member of the National Agricultural Alumni Development Association.
Mr. Ron Richard received a bachelor’s in agricultural education and animal science in 1983. Following a completion of a master’s in animal science from the Washington State University, Ron returned to the University of Idaho working as an Extension educator for two years. For the past 30 years Ron has served as an instructor in the Department of Animal and Veterinary Science, in addition to his role as the manager of Vandal Brand Meats. Aside from his work at the University of Idaho, he serves in a variety of roles with organizations such as Northwest Meat Processors Association, Montana Meat Processors Association and the National Meat Association’s Scholarship Selection Committee. Additionally, he assists in running both the Meats and Livestock Evaluation Career Development Events for the Idaho FFA Association.
— Written by Liz Bumstead
Amanda Moore-Kriwox is the program specialist and academic coordinator of the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education’s campus in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Mrs. Moore-Kriwox grew up on a farm west of Paul, Idaho, on land that has been farmed by her family for four generations, growing barley, alfalfa and sugar beets. “The smell of the soil at sugar beet harvest is as sweet as the sugar it makes! I miss that smell.” She was an active 4-H member, showing swine at fairs and entering sewing and cooking projects. As an FFA member, she raised dairy heifers and horses. After high school, she attended the University of Idaho and is a proud CALS alumna.
Her favorite part of working at the University of Idaho today is helping students, watching them evolve on their journey to graduation. “It’s icing on the cake to see how the CALS distance program is helping families, communities and the ag industry. The Magic Valley is the epicenter of agribusiness in the state of Idaho and our graduates are filling important roles here.”
Mrs. Moore-Kriwox loves exploring the mountains around her home with her husband and three children. She enjoys playing the piano, snow skiing, golfing, gardening and serving in youth ministry.
— Written by Maggie Elliot
Agricultural education programs in secondary schools do not exist in Nepal. Bishal Thapa, a sophomore at the University of Idaho pursuing degrees in agricultural education and biological engineering, is seeking to change that. Bishal was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, and came to the University of Idaho because he wanted to attend a land grant university which could give him the tools to develop agricultural education programs in Eastern Nepal. After graduation, Bishal strives to enhance agricultural literacy in this region by implementing an agri-science curriculum in schools. “Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal, and is an urban area,” Bishal said. “Students have no idea where their food comes from, most don’t even know milk comes from a cow. There is a need for this education.”
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. — Nelson Mandela
Bishal has conducted research and presented his project, "Examining Faculty Background and Self-Efficacy as a Factor in Teaching" at the University of Idaho Undergraduate Research Symposium, the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture conference, as well as at the Idaho Conference on Undergraduate Research. This summer he was the recipient of the $5,000 grant as part of a summer undergraduate research fellowship.
“Managing research has allowed me valuable insight into the profession while at the same time reminding me that there is so much more to learn.” Bishal works for the UI Nuclear Seed Potato program and is a research assistant to Kasee Smith, assistant professor. His favorite element of the University of Idaho is the faculty, “the staff always have my best interests at heart and open doors to allow me to reach my goals,” he said. His new research project is titled "Describing the Grit and Optimism of High School Agriculture Students." We wish him the best of luck on his project this fall and know he will continue to do great things
Molly Sparrow, junior, agricultural education, Latah County's UI Extension intern
I was attracted to this position because it creates a great avenue to network with the local 4-H and FFA students in the area. I enjoy working with kids of all ages and experiencing the diversity of extension education as well as agricultural education. I taught a safe sitter class, instructed at horse camp, and prepared many things for the Latah County Fair. I never did the same thing twice and I got to get out and be involved with the community. The most important concept I walked away with was that every student matters. Whether they are showing their cat, steer, working on rockets or just attending a safe sitter class. Everyone is an individual and brings something new to the table every time.
Maggie Elliot, senior, agricultural science, communication and leadership, Office of River Protection-Tank Farms intern
This summer I worked for the Office of River Protection of the Department of Energy at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. I was employed in the Tank Farms division with federal staff who manage the maintenance and retrievals of 56 million gallons of nuclear waste which is stored underground in 177 tanks. The internship appealed to me because I wanted to strengthen my technical writing ability, and also gain insight into how a government agency interacts with their stakeholders and the public. I assisted with internal communications, drafting newsletters about ongoing project accomplishments, aiding with logistics of meetings, and prepared agendas and presentations. The most important piece I took away was how such a large government agency operates, and the intricacies of federal positions within complex projects. I walked away with the upmost respect for the management I worked for and today understand there are competent people working hard to do the right thing in executing cleanup efforts.
Dino Vinci, junior, agricultural education, U.S. Dairy Education and Training Consortium intern
The USDETC is a program that brings all of the greatest and brightest minds in the dairy industry to the small town of Clovis, NM in order to fully immerse students into the dairy industry. There is an application process to be accepted into the program, the program accepts students from all over the nation, in order to select motivated and willing to learn students excited about the dairy industry. We are responsible for keeping up to date on the information being taught and apply those methods and theories to the 15 plus dairies, feed mills, heifer ranches and factories visited. One of the greatest parts of the USDETC is getting to network with people of the same interests from all over the nation. I made friends from Connecticut all the way Arizona. You also get to learn of different universities’ programs and do a little graduate school shopping as well. The greatest thing I took away from the USDETC was the knowledge and certainty for the bright outlook and future of the agricultural industry.
Jemma Morrow — At the beginning of my senior year, I knew I wanted to pursue agricultural education and I applied at the University of Idaho. My four years there allowed me to meet teachers around the state start to network. I am so lucky to have had that experience. Once I graduated, I accepted the job in Townsend, Montana, starting a brand new program. I was glad I got to see what Idaho Ag Ed was like and mix my experiences to create the program that I am at. I teach in a school of roughly 200 high school students, teaching eighth through 12th grade students. My curriculum is based on a four year program. I get eighth graders for a semester at a time. I also teach an Ag Elective, rotating between natural resources, wildlife management, vet science and horticulture. The community that I am in is very welcoming and active in agriculture, and the program has grown so much in a year. We are planning an 18’36’ greenhouse to be built this spring, and we also won a grant to build a chicken coop at school. We have had many generous donations in the last year including a Drone and a handful of cattle. The community has endured the immense growth of this program. I also have to brag on my kiddos, they are wonderful. I have really enjoyed getting to know them and helping them learn new things, and I am beyond proud of their abilities.
Katie Mosman — When I introduce SAE projects to my students, they begin by answering a series of questions about what they want their future to look like — is money the driving force behind their work? Or do they want to be passionate about their daily work? All teachers have those days — sometimes weeks — where we question how sane we were the day we chose our career. But, as ag teachers, we have a pretty sweet gig. All day, we get to engage in hands on activities related to an industry and lifestyle we love. We get to push students out of their comfort zones and watch them achieve goals beyond their dreams. Every day is different. Every student is unique. It’s a challenge, and it’s fun! Ag teachers are part of a legacy of meaningful learning. That is a gift; one enjoyed by precious few in this world. When making decisions, I often ask myself, “What will you remember in twenty years?” In twenty years, those kids won’t remember the 30 questions they did in their math book — but they will remember the plans they drafted for the Fabrications project — all perfectly to scale with the angles precisely calculated. They’ll remember the smell of the greenhouse when they walked through the door before the plant sale. They’ll remember petting cute animals—but also evaluating them for how tasty that steak will eventually taste. They’ll remember hiking all over that dang mountain to identify every dang tree growing there. As my oft-quoted grandpa, an ag teacher at Fruitland High School for 30 years, used to say, “Teaching ag is the best job in the world!”
From the editors
We are excited to share our story with you. For many reasons, we have titled this newsletter “The Hoot” and hope you continue to be part of our family. The Hoot will be distributed on a quarterly basis. — Liz Bumstead and Maggie Elliot are both majoring in agricultural science, communication and leadership. The newsletter is supervised by Jeremy Falk.