Mrs. Gayle had to go to Jackson to get ready for Dixie Nationals, so my office work was cut short (so sad). At the beginning of the week, we worked on organizing plaques and trophies for the FFA contests. That was a pain in the butt because Mrs. Gayle’s office was jam-packed with cardboard boxes that we had to unwrap and sort out. We separated the North, South, and Central awards, then the Junior and Senior, then the different events for each award. Then we had to take out all the trophies, which were huge, and make sure everything was spelled correctly and none of them were broken (a couple of them were). These trophies and plaques won’t be used until later in the year, but it was a weight off our shoulders to get the boxes out of the office and organize a little.
Since Mrs. Gayle left Starkville early, I got a good bit of the week off, but things picked up pretty fast once I got to Jackson. I got to the FFA Center on Friday night. Mrs. Gayle made us red beans and rice for dinner (love her) and I got to meet the senior officers. Some members from other counties came to stay at the Center, and everyone got settled in for the night.
Saturday morning came pretty fast. The first weekend of Dixies was the livestock shows, and I helped with weigh-backs for the hog shows. The judge would sort out a couple hogs that he didn’t want to place, would send them back, and we’d help guide them to the barns. Then he would pick three or four that were his top picks. He’d send those back and we’d have to guide them to the scales where they’d get weighed. If the animal didn’t weigh the class requirements or differed from what was originally recorded, it was automatically disqualified. We only had one animal get disqualified from weigh-backs. I met a lot of the extension agents for various counties while helping.
On Sunday, I helped with random drug testing and drug testing the winning steers. This was…interesting. Basically I had to follow any randomly selecting or winning animal around with a pee cup and a clipboard with all its information. There were a couple perks of this job: I got to get up close and personal (real personal) with some of the steers in the sale of champions. I got to watch the steer show all day. Most importantly (to me), I got to network. I met a ton of extension agents and some teachers from all around the state. Coincidentally, I was paired with the extension agent from the county that I’d like to end up in, and she told me a lot of insightful things. I loved watching the steer show because the kids are so proud of their animal and all their little outfits are so cute.
On Monday, I decided to skip class (sorry Mom) and stay in Jackson to help out some more. I was given the job of taking pictures of all the champions and sending them to the Commissioner of Agriculture for Mississippi. This was awesome because I got to sit all day and watch the shows, then I got to congratulate the winners and take their picture under the 50th anniversary sign. I had to email all those pictures to the Commissioner. All those kids were so excited, and it was so cute! Frustrating though, because sometimes it took 20 minutes to get the animal to stand still for a picture.
All in all, it was a super busy, exhausting weekend, but it was definitely worth it. I learned a lot about the different shows and how much work it is to have a show animal. I also learned about some of the controversy that takes place at any livestock show. I met a lot of people that had advice for me about finishing school (some dude said I should move to Texas..okay). I wish I could have stayed all week!
I am so fortunate to have this internship. It has led me to many other opportunities to further my understanding of agricultural education. During my spring break, I spent several days in an Ag classroom observing a teacher.
I have starting planting roots in Mississippi, and I’ve discovered that I would really like to live on the Gulf Coast. I’ve made several connections with people in that area, and my ideal teaching job would be in Jackson County. I reached out to a teacher at East Central High School, and he said he would be very happy to have me in his Ag classroom for a couple days.
I had so much fun this week! I learned a lot about teaching in general, and of course about teaching Ag. I realized that, even though I’m about to graduate from college, I’m really not a very good adult. I discovered that it’s probably going to be a challenge for me to be these kids’ teacher, and not be their friend. Some of the seniors were only two years younger than me! This reassured me that I definitely want to go to grad school. I want to become as good of a teacher as I can be.
The teacher that I shadowed was also the high school baseball coach, so he had a pretty busy schedule. I played volleyball throughout high school, and had considered being a high school coach, but he kind of changed my mind. I know that every school/teacher/person is different, but he opened my eyes to how time consuming being a teacher is, and coaching on top of that. Definitely something to think about.
East Central has a pretty nice greenhouse, but that’s all they have. They don’t have any hands-on curriculum involving animals, and that’s something that this teacher wants to improve. He told me that one day he wants to have show goats that his students can practice with and take to local and state shows.
The curriculum in his lessons wasn’t really what I was expecting. I guess my background in ADS has taken over my brain because I was expecting everything to be about animals, which it wasn’t. He talked about soils and plants the week that I was there. It reminded that I still have a lot to learn about agriculture.
While most of my friends went to the mountains or the beach for spring break, I went back to high school. As lame as that is, I had an awesome time and learned a whole lot. I brainstormed how I would teach my lessons and decorate my classroom and what I would grow in my greenhouse. As this semester goes on, I become more and more excited about becoming and agriculture teacher.