Awards

Ideas Unlimited Awards

For years teachers have been exchanging classroom and teaching ideas. This is what keeps the agricultural education programs alive and teachers enthusiastic. The NAAE Ideas Unlimited Award recognizes teachers for developing and sharing innovative ideas with their colleges nationwide.

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Region I
Sam Herringshaw
Hermiston High School
Hermiston, Oregon

Clyde McBride photo

 Herringshaw requires that all students are safe and properly outfitted when entering his agriculture classroom.  Hermiston school district’s budget has been cut quite significantly within the past couple of years, which has lead to his creation of New Life for Old Welding Gloves. 

Herringshaw has a very strong welding program at Hermiston High School, and with welding comes a lot of safety requirements.  Student and parents’ two major complaints are that students can’t afford to replace leather boots if they are to be ruined by welding sparks, and that slag is going down students’ shirts when practicing overhead welds.  Herringshaw had a supply of old leather welding jackets and gloves and began using these to create shoe and neck protectors.  This was a way he could save the district money and recycle a used piece of equipment.   

“Students can do this as a class project using scissors, a scratch awl, and pop rivet gun,” said Herringshaw.

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Region II
Alan Smith
Cushing High School
Cushing, Oklahoma

Lee Weis

Smith has developed an easy way to highlight the science in agriculture and the opportunities that agricultural education offers each student by creating the Agriculture Education Periodic Table of Opportunities. His inspiration is derived from the Periodic Table of the Elements, an essential part of any science curriculum. “Combining the Periodic Table of the Elements with the existing agricultural education curriculum helps students better realize the opportunities in agriculture,” said Smith.

Students begin with a copy of the periodic table, having only the symbols of each element in the boxes.  Next Smith teaches the three components of the agricultural education model; classroom instruction, Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs, and FFA leadership.  He further explains how each component overlaps to help students grasp the differences and similarities of each component.  After completion of this lesson he instructs students to create their own abbreviations for anything that is part of agriculture to place within the element boxes of their periodic table.  An example is “H” in the Periodic Table of Elements.  It usually stands for hydrogen, but in the Agricultural Education Periodic Table of Opportunities it could stand for hay, or for Hagie, a piece of equipment that is used to fertilize crops, or any other agriculture-related “H” word. 

Once students have created abbreviations and plugged them into their tables as elements, Smith requires them to use colors to designate into which component of agricultural education their abbreviation fits.  The color blue is used to identify FFA leadership, red for classroom instruction, and yellow for SAE programs.  If the element can overlap in components the element box must be a mixed color.

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Region III
Tim Uhlenkamp & Jeff Eppen
Sibley East High School
Green Isle, Minnesota

Natasha Mortenson & Ellen Thompson

The Sibley East agriculture department, advisory board, and school administration created the Farm to School program to increase interest.  The Farm to School program set three goals; first was to produce farm fresh produce for the school’s lunch supply, second was to attract more students into the career pathway of agronomy, and finally, to promote agriculture to all members of the community and school.

The program consists of a one acre vegetable garden where students plant, maintain and harvest produce to supply the school’s food service lunch program.  Student’s have successfully planted and harvested cabbage, onions, potatoes, beans, carrots, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.  Many students from Sibley East Agriculture Program volunteer their time and labor during summer months to help ensure a healthy crop for harvest.  Summer crop work is fertilization, watering, weeding and harvesting.  This allows students to develop a Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) and gain valuable experience to record on a resume.  When vegetables are harvested during summer they are taken to kitchen staff, who freezes them use during the school year.

“Our school has witnessed a great reaction from the community seeing a very innovative project.  We as advisors have seen students motivated to learn from an experience that many students do not have an opportunity to participate in around the state,” says Uhlenkamp.

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Region IV
Lindy Holt
South Holt High School
Rosendale, Missouri

Holt, agriculture teacher at South Holt High School, was looking for a way to incorporate technology into her curriculum.  A few years prior, she learned about a hobby known as Geocaching.  Holt describes Geocaching as a treasure hunt using Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.  She utilizes this activity throughout the week her eighth grade students are taking the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test to give them time outside to move around in the fresh air and in turn boost attitudes and test scores.  Along with tracking hidden items throughout the surrounding school grounds each day, students research Geocaching using the Internet to practice recording longitude and latitude readings.  Prizes are awarded to teams who complete their campus treasure hunt.

“Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment,” said Holt.  “I believed this would introduce my students to a life-long hobby while still incorporating technology into the lesson.”

For future uses, students will use their problem solving skills to decipher riddles at each cache, or waypoint.  Holt desires to use this activity next year in collaboration with other subject areas in her school to boost morale with more students during MAP testing.

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Region V
Joe Green
Pope High School
Marietta, Georgia

Green believes effective and passionate learning occurs when students are intrinsically engaged.  He understands his students interests are always evolving, and updates his curriculum and teaching techniques to keep pace.  Green has created Outdoor Odysseys, a collection of ten separate outdoor lessons that integrate Georgia state standards with horticulture, plant identification and anatomy, biology, mathematics, literature, communications, teamwork, and interpersonal skills.  By providing instruction through outdoor lessons that have use and purpose, Green motivates his students to learn inside and outside of the classroom.  He thinks it’s important students master how to learn from their environment, no matter its size or location.

“I have found that when I sprinkle in an assortment of meaningful outdoor learning experiences, my students see it as a reward, and are more willing to work effectively inside the classroom when indoor lessons are taught,” says Green.

Six of the ten lessons incorporate scavenger hunts where students must collect a variety of plant parts, leaf samples, and flower types and also solve mystery riddles.  Each lesson is designed seasonally to best match plants available during that time.  Even teachers with limited resources can use these lessons as they require few materials, such as clipboards, small plastic bags, and a pencil.  Green notes it is essential that prior to the scavenger hunts students review in class, plant parts, plant functions, and the criteria used in plant identification.  Another activity, known as the Sound Journal, asks students to sit in silence and record every sound they hear.

“I have lost count of the number of students who have thanked me personally for the Sound Journal lesson because it allowed them to take time out from their overloaded, busy lives and just reflect on the here and now on a sunny day,” said Green.  “If you can teach your lesson effectively and still have kids move around and get fresh air, everybody wins.”

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Region VI
Mark Anderson
Elizabethtown Area High School
Columbia, Pennsylvania

Anderson is the agriculture teacher at Elizabethtown Area High School.  In a response to the Pennsylvania Department of Education deeming the Agricultural Mechanics career pathway a high priority occupation, Anderson developed the Horseshoe Nail Cowboy.  He started out researching for practical brazing projects but none fit his criteria of being small, simple, inexpensive, easily adaptable and fun.  Anderson quickly decided to create one of his own after noticing an excess of horseshoe nails located around his barn.

The idea of the project is simple. Students weld horseshoe nails into a cowboy stick figure.  Other items such as wiring and washers can be used as well to weld accessories such as lassos and cowboy hats.  Through this project, students learn basic Agricultural Mechanics skills such as project layout and design, measuring, calculating a bill of materials, proper set up and shut down of an oxyacetylene welding rig, welding safety, hand-eye coordination, and proper torch handling.  Costing less than three dollars to make, this project is mass produced to serve as centerpieces for the FFA banquet, showcasing to parents and community members the connection between classroom instruction and the FFA. 

After students construct a cowboy to meet their specific design, they write a five line poem describing their cowboy.  Anderson works with the English teacher to ensure proper grammar, spelling and rhyming is used.  One of the most important components of this project to Anderson is that students are able to employ their creativity and artistic abilities.  He feels this will further motivate students to learn and continue to succeed in his program. Anderson explains the project has been so successful that his program has even been asked to make Horseshoe Nail Cowboys to give to legislators at the Pennsylvania State FFA Leadership Conference breakfast and as door prizes for the Conestoga Country Club summer golf tournament. 

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