Thursday, July 3, 2014

It's All About Connections

Agriculture Education is all about connections.  Connections to the agriculture industry, connections to the community and it's members, connections with other Ag teachers; Ag teachers are constantly working with other people to rock out some incredible lessons.  Teachers also have connections with other teachers through professional organizations like National Association for Agricultural Educators or other state associations.  As pre-service Ag teachers, we have the opportunity to be involved in some of the things that the organizations do; go to meetings, events, etc., all very helpful for building our professional network.

But what organizations, what camaraderie, is out their for pre-service agriculture teacher candidates?  We have Teach Ag! Society chapters, even Collegiate FFA, but it is not very often that we connect with other teacher candidates outside of our own university.  Are their even other groups like the Teach Ag! Society?  Are their any other collegiate-level  advocates for agriculture education?!

The answer is yes!  There are other Ag Ed students out there just like us!  We were introduced to an organization at Sunchon National University in Suncheon, Korea for students studying agriculture education.  The explanation of the group was brief, but definitely left me wanting to know more!

The organization is called 논두렁, or "Non-do-rung", and is very similar to Penn State's Teach Ag! Society in that students studying agriculture education spread the word about agriculture and the importance of teaching it in the classroom.

Over the two days that followed the presentation at Sunchon University, I learned more about the significance of the organization's title that just blew me away.

The word "논두렁" literally translates to "levee" and is used to describe the pathways that connect rice field to rice field.  Let's just talk about the significance of this name.  The most obvious connection is that rice is a staple crop of the Republic of Korea so including such an important part of Korea's agricultural history and presence in the name of the organization is awesome.

Secondly, and the part that I found to be most fascinating was word "pathways".  Do we not as members of Teach Ag Society and 논두렁 create pathways to connect the significance of agriculture with the public?  Do we not help students find the pathway to understanding where their foods come from?  I thought that using a word that means connecting one area of agriculture to another was a clever, and all too perfect, way to sum up our collegiate agriculture education organizations.

One of the most impactful things I have learned on this trip is that we, as pre-service teachers and argicultural advocates, are not isolated in the world.  There are other groups like us even on the other side of the world.  And doesn't that open the door for a whole different world of global opportunities as an agricultural educator?

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