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Latest group of FFA National Teacher Ambassadors announced
 
By Michele F. Mihaljevich
Indiana Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS – Lori Romie wasn’t involved with FFA as a student, but has since chosen agricultural education as her career path. She decided to apply for the National FFA Organization’s Teacher Ambassador program because she wanted to guide other teachers – especially those with similar backgrounds – toward helpful resources.
Kyle Gehring wasn’t very active in FFA in high school. He hopes to use his time as an ambassador to make a difference to agricultural educators who have struggled like he did when he got started in the profession.
Jacob Bell participated in FFA in high school, and looks forward to the opportunity to become more involved in the National FFA Organization. In addition, he’d like to network with other agriculture teachers and connect those teachers with tools developed by National FFA to improve classroom instruction.
Romie, Gehring and Bell are three of 64 people recently named FFA National Teacher Ambassadors for the 2024-2025 school year. The new ambassadors represent 31 states and Puerto Rico.
The ambassadors will serve as the leaders, mentors and trainers for more than 10,000 FFA advisers in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to FFA. The ambassadors serve as a resource for teachers in their home states as well as those across the country, supporting other teachers in their professional growth and development, the organization said.
Romie is an agricultural educator and FFA adviser at Ridgemont Local Schools in Ohio. She teaches grades 7-12.
“I wanted to become an agricultural educator because I believe there is value in students being invested in understanding where their food comes from and developing leadership skills that will take them far in any career,” she explained. “Agriculture is all around us, so it is important to be educated consumers. However, the life lessons that come from being involved in FFA transcend beyond the classroom.”
Romie said her lack of time in FFA in high school can be an advantage for her during her time as an ambassador.
“As someone who didn’t experience FFA as a student, I bring a unique perspective to my role as an ambassador,” she said. “I remember actively struggling when I first started teaching and the sheer overwhelming amount of FFA-related items that I did not understand.
“I struggled with record keeping, developing students’ Supervised Agricultural Experiences, coaching career development events, and finding the time to plan quality lessons for the classroom that were career and industry relevant. I was overwhelmed and I believe that this can lead to teacher burnout. I found the educator resources from the National FFA to be a lifeline.”
Gehring, an agriculture teacher and FFA adviser, has taught at Bradford (Tenn.) High School since 2015. Prior to that, he taught at South Fulton (Tenn.) High School. He’s originally from Chicago, where, he said, “Up north, agriculture and opportunities of using your environment was not a thought. It was not until 1999 when I moved to Waverly, Tenn., where I found out all the opportunities agriculture has for every individual.”
He wasn’t very active in his high school’s FFA program because the program itself wasn’t active. Due to his lack of exposure to FFA in high school, when he began teaching agriculture, he said he had to learn by “trial and tribulations” with his students.
“This put me behind the learning curve compared to my fellow peer educators,” Gehring noted. “However, persistence and determination have helped me continue at competing with programs from across the state, as well as the nation.”
He said during his time as an ambassador, he wants “to be a resource for educators who are looking for help, as well as represent the needs of educators in smaller programs, such as the one I currently teach at, with having a stakeholder input in the National FFA Organization.”
Jacob Bell is the agriculture teacher and FFA/Junior MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences) adviser at Carter G. Woodson Academy in Lexington, Ky. He was involved in FFA in high school, serving as a chapter officer. He participated in several career and leadership development events at the state and national level.
“Like many other teachers, I chose to enter the agriculture education profession because of the profound impact that my agriculture teachers had on me when I was a high school student,” he said. “The skills I learned through FFA helped me be successful in ways I never thought possible. I wanted to try to have that same impact on my students and help prepare the next generation of leaders to enter into our nation’s most important industry.”
By participating in the Teacher Ambassador program, Bell said he hopes to expand his professional network and connect with more teachers across the country and Kentucky.
“Additionally, I love becoming more familiar with resources and initiatives from National FFA,” Bell said. “I look forward to learning about these resources and implementing them in my classroom.”
Romie said as she participates in the ambassador program, she’d like to continue to push herself out of her comfort zone. She said she hopes to keep growing in her own professional development.
“When working with other National Ambassadors, I aim to collaborate in finding meaningful ways to engage with and celebrate the accomplishments of FFA advisers,” she said. “There are many fantastic advisers out there with phenomenal programs that deserve recognition. In my interactions with these advisers, I hope to discover impactful ways to serve their needs effectively. It’s in these moments of collective learning and support that true magic happens.”
As an ambassador, Gehring wants to perform multiple workshops for new educators, as well as graduating collegiate agricultural education majors to serve as a resource, and “be a conduit of enthusiasm and inspiration that it’s OK to not have everything figured out at one time.
“I hope that I share valuable resources to serve as foundational pieces for FFA advisers to implement in their new or existing chapters. It is hard to start from scratch, but to implement a few things at a time is very beneficial to encourage personal growth in our field.”
Bell said he is particularly passionate about sharing the FFA Value Statement Lesson Series with other teachers.
“These lessons provide teachers with lessons to help teach concepts that align with the FFA Value Statements,” he said. “They are very flexible and can be inserted into many different classes or used with officer teams (to) help programs become more welcoming and inclusive spaces.”

6/17/2024