I said “I do” to a cattle fitter, now I’m married to a school teacher. How did that happen?
Never in a million years – no, make that a trillion – would I have thought that my husband would enter a school every day, face 25 teenagers and try to teach them something about agriculture.
Okay, let me set the record straight: he is not a certified teacher, and you don’t have to hold a teaching certificate to teach agriculture in the state of Michigan. You are required to have 1,000 hours in the industry. So technically, 99 percent of you could teach agriculture, too.
As we celebrate National FFA Week, my husband will celebrate it for the first time with 25 students. He is not an FFA alumnus and has no idea how to conduct an official FFA meeting. The closest he’s ever come to an FFA convention is watching it on RFD-TV.
But that did not stop him from standing up and saying, “I’ll help.”
When I thought it was a silly idea to commit to teaching ag science in our local school district, he thought it was worth considering. When I sat and wondered what on Earth we were going to teach, he got on the internet and found a curriculum that would work for our class.
When I sat in my office and said, “I have too much writing to do, I can’t leave to go teach today,” he replied, “You stay home, I’ll teach today.”
Any FFA advisor will tell you this role is more than just instructing students on the parts of a chicken and the composition of soil. It’s making sure the sheep are fed on the weekends and the lambs are delivered on the snow days.
It’s following through on the requirements that are mandated by the state, helping conduct leadership contests and listening to kids whine when they have to pitch a little manure. It’s making sure assignments are complete, attending basketball games and encouraging young people who are being raised in homes without the loving attention of two parents.
This job requires someone who will look into the future of a young person and encourage them to follow their interests, while giving them a push when they lack a little confidence.
As we celebrate this empowering program called FFA, I would like to celebrate the men and women who give their time and talents so willingly to inspire the next generation of farmers, communicators, food scientists, community leaders and policymakers.
This program is only possible because of those who stood up and said, “I’ll help.”
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Melissa Hart may write to her in care of this publication.