Aspiring ag teachers attend conference in Amarillo
By: Taylor Demski
ALEC students and faculty networked and learned with other agricultural educators in Texas at the Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas conference in Amarillo July 30th through August 3rd.
The VATAT conference enables agricultural science teachers to keep up their continuing education units and engage in professional development, featuring workshops offered over the course of a couple of days that highlight important updates on everything from curriculum to teacher’s rights, responsibilities and liabilities.
Allowing agriculture science majors enrolled in AGSC 380 to attend conferences like VATAT gives them a professional perspective of what it is like to be an agricultural science teacher.
AGSC 380, taught by Associate Professor Julie Harlin, Ph.D., is offered every second summer session and the students are required to attend the state FFA convention and VATAT conference.
“Being in the Ag Science 380 class we got to pick which workshop we wanted to attend during the conference and the ag teachers get to do the same thing. I learned a lot,” says graduate assistant Marcus Sodek.
Harlin started to take students to events like the state FFA convention and professional development conferences as a class effort about eight years ago. Around 20 of her Ag Science 380 students were in attendance at VATAT conference this year.
In addition to professional development, the students help facilitate Aggie Bash, an aggie agriculture science teacher reunion party.
Aggie Bash brings together agriculture science teachers from across the state who attended Texas A&M. The event features a live auction and raffle. Money raised is used to pay dues for the newest Aggie agriculture science teachers into the VATAT. It is a tradition that has been going on since the 1980s. Around 150 people attended this year’s Aggie bash, and the event raised more than $3000.
“My class is responsible for getting donations and I make it a requirement that they make, bring or buy three items that we can auction and sell at Aggie bash. They’ve been very successful in doing that,” Harlin says.
The students enrolled in AGSC 380 have a truly unique experience and an in depth glimpse into what it will be like to be a teacher in agriculture. AGSC 380 is an elective course and is great for those within the ALEC department who are truly passionate and curious about a future as an agriculture science teacher.