By: Frances Nicol
This past May, I completed my Early Field Experience at North Union High School in Richwood with Mr. Tom Jolliff. I was very excited when I received my placement from Dr. Cano because I knew that North Union FFA was a great program and I knew I would learn a lot in my time there.
However, I need to include an important piece of background information: NU FFA was my home FFA chapter’s competitor. When I told my family and friends about where I would be spending my days for 2 weeks, I received tons of jokes about going “up north” and being “brain washed” by their different style. I even started to doubt my great decision of choosing North Union. Needless to say, I was very nervous for my first day.
I quickly realized that people’s accusations and my thoughts were way off track. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very different program than what I was used to, but the agriculture department and the entire teaching staff was extremely welcoming, even though I came from their rival school.
While at North Union, I was able to participate in many different projects such as making a robotic arm with hydraulics; small engines, welding, wood clock building, and helping the freshman classes start their Supervised Agriculture Experiences (SAE). I also helped with their end of the year event, Food for America, where they take 2nd graders in the district to their fairgrounds and the FFA members have several stations for them to learn about animals, crops, farm machinery, and even ATV safety. It was so rewarding to help walk the students through their projects and to watch them think about their next steps. I’ll never forget the look of pride on one student’s face when they finally made their hydraulic arm pick up the pop can after hundreds of tries!
My EFE was so much more fulfilling then I ever thought possible. I was able to see a successful FFA program from a different side and I gained more knowledge about what it takes to run a classroom. I was thrilled to see the impact that Mr. Jolliff had on his students and I can only hope to have a similar encounter when I begin my career in Agriscience Education.