Everyone in one way or another has had a mentor to look up to. It is important in the field of agricultural education that all teachers have someone to talk to, ask questions, and share ideas with. After all, there isn’t an "Agricultural Education For Dummies" book out there! The NAAE Teacher Mentor Award recognizes those educators that lend a hand to others in their profession. CEV Multimedia sponsored this award.
Culver High School
Marshall High School
Van M. Chew
Konawa High School
Lee J. James
Choctaw County Career & Technology Center
Minnesota West Community & Tech. College
Beverly Manor High School
Dale Crawford has been able to guide agriculture teachers as they venture their way to becoming mentors themselves. A real case scenario of this is with Dale's protégé, Jeff Papke. Jeff has asked many things of Dale, and not one request has been refused. Their mentor experience together began by discussing the operation of the Central Oregon District FFA, giving Jeff knowledge of the Crook County area and providing him with contacts. Since then, Jeff has been guided on how to create greenhouse and horticulture programs as both an instructional lab and a fundraiser for the FFA chapter. Dale has also helped Jeff on how to improve FFA programs and other areas under the agricultural education program. In addition, Dale makes it a point to emphasize the importance of an advisory committee and the support of the local community.
"I firmly believe the interactions we share, whether face-to-face, on the telephone, in a professional meeting, or in a social setting have improved Jeff and made him very successful, with a career commitment to teach agriculture," stated Dale after reflecting on the mentor experience.
Dale Crawford has been an agricultural instructor for 27 years. His success is partly due to his work ethic and belief in the agricultural education program. What's more is that he believes in others.
Encouraging others is one of Van Chew's best qualities. Van not only takes care of his teacher duties, he also lends a hand to other teachers, students not enrolled in his classes, and student teachers. He has lead both students from his high school classes and college student teachers that were assigned to the Konawa agriculture program to enter the teaching profession.
"Mentoring is not an exact science and I don't know of any book that explains it. So during the past years I have tried to build friendships, trust, be an example, be available, and embrace protégés in our profession," stated Van.
"There are many words to describe Van Chew: mentor, friend,
teacher, and advisor. But I will always call him Dad," stated
Clint Chew, agriculture teacher at Okeman High School.
In addition to being a role model to others, Van participates in professional organizations to help him grow personally, but to also learn new ideas and techniques from others in his field. He has belonged to the OAAE, OVA, and NAAE for 34 years.
Larry Griffin offers one-on-one mentoring and enforces positive experiences with his protégés and encourages improvements on the less desirable outcomes. Larry's objective is always clear and directed toward the success of the protégé and their own individual program. He also goes beyond verbally helping his protégés; he observes them and helps them build a communications network within the community. He emphasizes the importance to his protégés of attending local, state, and national conventions, which help them to stay focused on their objectives and know what is valuable in their future. Overall, his main goal is to have all of his protégés provide a quality education package.
One of Larry's most recent protégés was Mike Dierks, a beginning Farm Business Management Instructor. Larry initially helped Mike set up a contact list of partners to make his program more successful and well known. This list identified school administrators, community leaders, and local agricultural lenders. This list helped Mike get networked with the community and contact potential resources that could be used in the future. Furthermore, Larry assisted Mike to develop a marketing plan to attract students to this program. He told him to keep one key idea in mind: "Don't promise anything that you will not deliver." These helpful hints and guides have helped Mike become a quality agriculture educator.
Floyd Beneker believes that mentoring is a way of helping the teaching profession from the time a student enters high school until they are experienced teachers. This process starts by Floyd opening the doors for his students to attend the state FFA functions at Michigan State University (MSU). If his students show interest in becoming agricultural education teachers, he provides them with contacts for the Agricultural Education Department at MSU. Throughout Floyd's 37 years of teaching, he has supervised 17 student teachers and more than 12 new agriscience teachers have considered him to be their mentor.
Besides opening the door for students, Floyd supplies the needed information for an agricultural teacher to become successful. This information ranges from his classroom and FFA philosophies to providing a communications network for the mentee to contact.
To sum up his philosophy on mentoring beginning agriculture teachers in five short words, Floyd simply said, "The Door is Always Open."
Mentoring is something that Lee James does subconsciously. Lee has been an agriculture teacher for 25 years and has the experience to guide new teachers on their journey to becoming successful agricultural educators. Lee takes the time to go over every component of the program with the new teachers so that they understand what is essential. He starts by going over what a program needs, such as equipment, curriculum, and resource materials. When reviewing the curriculum, Lee provides his ideas and theories, but encourages his protégés to continually look for better ways to present the curriculum and to not settle with his ideas. Although Lee has taught for quite a while, he keeps an open mind, knowing that there may be something better along the way.
When mentoring, he puts in his two cents as to the professional organizations in which new teachers should participate. He encourages participation in the MAVAT, of which he is the past president, and the NAAE, where he serves as alternate vice president of Region V.
Lee James knows that the education process is forever changing and growing. It is for this reason that he urges new teachers to continue their higher education.
Sally Shomo is instrumental in the success of the future agricultural teachers in Augusta County, Virginia. Sally provides many learning tools and resources for incoming teachers. The goal of the agricultural education programs in this county is to make students agriculturally literate and spark their interest in high school programs. With Sally's mentoring, this county will be able to achieve this goal in all three of its middle schools. Sally meets with her protégés at least one time a month face-to-face, and is more than willing to help and answer any questions that they may have between meetings.
Sally has guided her most current protégé, Carrie Monger, on how to build a successful program. She helped her plan, schedule and host a leadership day camp and aided her on how to manage a greenhouse and poultry facility.
Sally believes that success does not come from participation solely in one program, but from a variety of programs and organizations, such as the Young Farmer Organization and NAAE. Another step to success is constructing a sound communication network with school board members, state legislatures, community leaders, and agriculturalists. Sally has helped Carrie build these connections. Overall, Sally leads her followers every step of the way.