Written by: Christine Balint
I was given the wonderful opportunity to do my Early Field Experience (EFE) with the Northwestern-Wayne FFA chapter for two weeks. Here, the students were welcoming and there was a lot to finish up before the school year was over! My cooperating educator was Heather Tegetmeier. Heather has taught at Northwestern-Wayne schools for 15 years as one of two Agriscience Educators.
Heather teaches the seventh and eighth grade programs taught at Northwestern Middle School as well as teaches Ag Science I, Environmental Sciences and Natural Resources, and the chapter’s leadership class. Heather teaches alongside Dan Fulk, who was also Heather’s cooperating educator when she was in college. The Northwestern-Wayne FFA chapter has about 135 enrolled FFA members and about 200 middle schoolers who go through the program each year.
During my placement, I was able to work with the kids hands on, and learn their stories of why they love agriculture. Heather helped me prepare many lessons and work with her on finishing the projects the students were working on. It was nice to go into a different classroom and see how another chapter runs their activities in comparison to what I knew from my home chapter. It was especially exciting to see a two teacher program that also included a middle school program. For Heather, she only usually interacted with half of the chapter during the school day, but she most definitely engaged in the Ag Ed setting. As I watched Heather work with the students and get used to the daily schedule of 7-4pm days, I started to feel the transition from student to educator. I was able to do my very own lesson on how to make ice cream and even participated in the chapter’s Ag in the Classroom event where they went to the elementary school and talked to first graders about animal and tractor safety.
It was great to have the students call me Ms. B and to want to talk to me about my FFA experiences, my time at Ohio State, and what it was like to do my EFE placement. For the first time, I was able to see that spark in the students eyes that I too had when I was in high school. This, making a difference in student’s lives, it for sure what I want to do as my future career.
Growing up in a small community, I felt at home in the little rural town of West Salem. It was nice to get back into the classroom where many of my FFA memories were created. When a student does their EFE, they are to basically shadow their cooperating educator, taking note at their teaching techniques, the way the rooms are set up for the kids, and getting a first hand look at the behind the scene actions that Agriscience Educators participate in. By the end of my EFE placement, my eyes were opened up to the exciting and wonderful world of becoming an Agriscience Educator. From the hands-on field trips to developing career skills, I can surely say that I am ready to start my career in Agriscience Education!