With eager ears and involved parents, teenagers from across the state gathered to learn more about becoming an ag education teacher. Michigan State University invited prospective ag teachers to campus to hear about what it takes. These young, inquisitive minds learned about the curriculum, the pathway options to earning a degree and, of course, played games, all in the name of team-building.
As the Michigan FFA and College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources fanned out across the room to encourage the youth and answer questions, I was engaged from the beginning and impressed at how they were totally at the disposal of the parents.
This was a team of people in the know: The leaders. The recruiters. The ones who have walked the path, done the work and want to encourage more youth to follow in their footsteps.
There is a shortage of ag education teachers in this country, and especially in Michigan. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know why. I could say it’s a poor-paying job. But honestly, all you need to do is spend one day in today’s public school, attempting to teach any subject, and you will realize that good teachers don’t get paid enough. (And note, I said good teachers).
And don’t even go down that road about them only working nine months out of the year. If you were responsible for teaching 140 kids every day, making sure they learn how to figure out how to measure the square feet of their bedroom, how the Electoral College works and what the heck “FE” stands for in the Periodic Table, then you would realize the challenges they face.
Hook-ups, break-ups and parents who smoke cannabis daily are the companions of these teenagers. A generation of youth who have never been without an electronic device, do not know how to write cursive – much less read it – and their parents may or may not have been home that morning before they left for school.
We are talking about kids who are homeless, valueless and starving for food and attention – and that is just for starters. Add in that they are so hooked on the drug of social media, that if they don’t get at least 25 likes on their latest Instagram post or they lose a Snapchat follower, they wonder why they are such losers.
Being a teacher is thankless, but I don’t know of one out there who does it for a pat on the back. In the beginning they do it because they love helping students learn, because they enjoy the process of discovery and how learning can take you places you’ve never been before. When they get in the trenches, they do it because they love kids. Period. Nothing else could drive that kind of passion.
From the delinquents to the stunningly intellectual, they love them all. They believe there is hope for every kid that passes through their classroom. They believe that someday, each student will figure life out, and they mourn for those who don’t.
If you’re a young person and you are being called to teach, answer it, no matter what. You will never be happy in any other profession. If you are meant to teach, don’t waste your life trying to make more money or in search of the perfect job. Just go teach.
We need you. Our kids need you. Our country depends on you.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Melissa Hart may write to her in care of this publication.