Member Spotlight: Northeast Region
Shelley Armour, your Northeast Region VP, interviewed our May Member Spotlight, Jessica Duncan. Jessica is a hard-working teacher and we are proud to share her interview below!
1. How did you get into teaching Ag Ed?
I loved agriculture growing up on a produce farm, but at the time, a female farmer was not as heard of as it is now, so I was trying to determine where my place was in life. I enjoyed school growing up and a lot of times my sister and I would play school in our playhouse. As I was about to enter high school, my dad planted blackberries and, along with those, we installed the trellis-system. We were the first in our county to have it so farm tours through cooperative extension started to multiply. One tour was for the high school agriculture teachers in our county and they were allowed to bring along a couple students, who might be interested. The horticulture teacher from the high school I would be attending was there and he started to advocate for his program. I was reserved, I listened, but deep down I told myself “anything I needed to know about growing plants my dad could teach me”. I started high school and I was not signed up for an agriculture class; however, all of my friends were. Sophomore year I decided I would take one so I signed up for two entry level classes, one as a first choice, one as a back-up; however, I ended up in both of them. I came out of my shell for public speaking during my sophomore year thought these two classes. I went from the shy girl who wanted to run and hide rather than speak, to leading field trips for each horticulture class for the rest of my high school career. I quickly found my passion. I wanted to advocate for agriculture and I wanted to be just like my agriculture teacher, Mr. Senter, I wanted to teach agricultural education.
2. How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for 3 years, two of those have been here at Moyock Middle School.
3. What is unique about teaching middle school agriculture education and having a middle school FFA chapter?
I enjoy teaching middle school agriculture. I do my best to get the students excited about what they can do in high school with the program there and encourage them to take agriculture classes when they select classes. One thing interesting about middle school is NONE of my students “pick” my class, they are randomly selected so it can be challenging for sure but the interest level, especially in my 6th graders is so rewarding! One other unique part of teaching middle school is that our state competition is in March- not in the summer so after “states” I can focus on getting ready for banquet an the end of the year activities.
4. What classes do you teach?
I started off teaching high school for one semester and I taught Horticulture I and II and Landscaping. Once I was hired in Currituck County, I was teaching middle school and for the first year and a half I taught Exploring Biotechnology and Fundamentals of Biotechnology. This year I am teaching Environmental and Natural Resources.
5. How many members does your chapter have?
6. What is unique about your program compared to others in the county? (activities, facilities, etc)
At our school we have two raised beds for the students to work in with crops each year. They have to prep the beds by pulling weeds and keep the weeds out as the season goes forward. They also plant the seeds or planks and keep them cared for. We are working towards a small greenhouse for both middle schools in the county to give students a hands on experience, but nothing is set in stone.
7. What is your favorite activity you have done with your classes and/or chapter?
My favorite activity is hard to narrow down. As a classroom activity, I really enjoy when we are working on official dress and I have students decorate gingerbread men/women cookies into official dress with icing. Once I have checked them off ,they get to eat the cookie they decorated. My favorite chapter activity enjoyed taking my kids to the State Fair this year. Most of them had never been to Raleigh- much less the fair so it was a great experience for them!
Thank you, Jessica, for all that you do as an agriculture teacher!
A New Opportunity in Professional Development!
Here is a new conference opportunity, presented by our very own Amber Nead, Agriculture Teacher at North East Carolina Prep School:
If you are on Instagram, you’ve probably seen posts from Sarah Nerswick’s Ag Teacher How To’s account. She is an agriculture teacher in Georgia that actually taught in NC for a little while too! She has been working hard to develop an online, completely virtual Ag Teacher Summer Conference called Germinate! This virtual conference will be hosted ONLINE, with recorded sessions all with a TAKEAWAY (worksheet, PPT, lesson plan etc.) from some of the best agriculture teachers from Alaska to the U.S Virgin Islands….Maine to Hawaii and EVERYWHERE in between! It will be live July 10-12, 2019 and right now registration is $35.
I will be teaching a session on FFA partnerships – specifically how to partner with elementary schools and other feeder skills. Talking about what financial resources there are, educational resources, and how to make those partnerships work.
If you are interested in registering and participating in Germinate, please consider registering through my affiliate link: https://green-and-growing-education.teachable.com/?affcode=335084_2mhshhmp
Questions about the conference, Germinate!, can be directed to Amber Nead at firstname.lastname@example.org