By: Bradley Collins, Agriscience Education | Coolville, OH
The National FFA Association’s motto reads, “Learning to do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve”; this statement means a lot of things to a lot of people (over six hundred twenty-nine thousand current members). Although I’m now an alumnus, I find myself thinking about this motto from time to time. As an FFA Member, these words reminded me that “Doing to Learn” would be the key to my success, now that I am in my third year at The Ohio State University, these words still hold their merit.
Preparing to teach agricultural science in the classroom is what I have been working on for the last three years, however, agriscience educators work with students nearly as much out of the classroom as they do in. It’s difficult to understand what it’s like to be an agriculture educator unless you’ve done a little walking in their shoes (boots). During my time studding Agriscience Education, I have done half-a-dozen career shadowing projects, as well as a two week Early Field Experience, during all of which I was in the classroom. It’s not until an education student’s senior year that they can complete student teaching and be in the classroom for an extended period. For me it’s hard investing all of my time and money studying to have a career in a field that I’ve only experienced half of. Outside of the classroom, Agriscience Educators spend hours taking students to contests, conferences, conventions and camp; sometimes across the country. This summer, I was fortunate enough to gain some inside experience working with students outside of the classroom.
Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum is located on Leesville Lake in Carrol County Ohio. Every summer, FFA members from across Ohio come to camp to make new friends, gain leadership abilities, and most importantly, to have fun. Ohio FFA Camp employs around seven college students every summer to help staff all of the sessions of camp. As one of the seven that was selected this year by camp director Todd Davis (an alumnus of the Ohio State College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Science), and his full time staff, I moved into camp on May 31, and by July 18 I didn’t want to leave. Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum Summer Staff is responsible for coordinating activities, writing programs, life guarding, high ropes etc.. Although all five regular sessions of camp had the same schedule, every week was different. Around midday every Sunday a new set of students and their advisors would show up at camp registration, each week different from the last. I worked with upwards of twelve hundred students this summer and made countless connections with their advisors. Knowing that I would be in the advisors’ position in just a few short years, I took every opportunity to gain knowledge from their experiences, not to mention the career networking opportunities. Because of my position on camp staff I was able to work side-by-side with the professionals that will one day be my peers, as well as my fellow staff members, who I now call friends.
The Ohio FFA Camp summer staff position was originally created as an internship designed for future agriscience educators (although our staff is now fairly diverse). The time I spent this summer on Leesville Lake has taught me that even with training from one of the best institutions in the Nation, nothing can prepare you more for a career than getting out there and “Doing to Learn”.