Champions of Change: 4-H and Future Farmers of America Educator Panel

Uploaded by whitehouse on 09.10.2012

Brenda Dann-Messier: So it's my pleasure to first introduce Dr. Pete Dreisback
who serves as the Director of the Kentucky FFA Leadership
Training Center.
Even though he has been with the Kentucky FFA LTC for 25 years,
he is constantly working to improve programming
and facilities.
Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, but also
we'd really like to hear about this ROPES course you built
two years ago.
Why did you build that?
Pete Dreisback: Very good. I am Pete Dreisbach.
A little bit about my background.
I was born on the edges of the Sarhara Desert and raised in
West Africa.
And as you can well imagine that influences my world view why I
am, where I am and, why I am doing what I'm doing, and why
I've chosen to do what I do.
Been to Ghana.
Very good.
I have taught high school agriculture for a number
of years in Georgia.
I have also worked at the university level
in teacher education.
But I have been at the Kentucky FFA Leadership Training Center
for the last 27 years.
Or I'm in my 27th year.
Brenda Dann-Messier: I'm sorry.
Pete Dreisbach: And in reference to the ROPES course that you mentioned there,
that is just a minor thing.
The most important thing that we do at the leadership training
center is what we do with the curricula in
Youth Leadership Development.
That's what's important.
And we do a wonderful job in individual
leadership development.
And I could spend the rest of the afternoon
talking about that.
But in terms of the ROPES course one of the areas that we felt
like we were lacking was in group dynamics.
And so fortunately one of our commodity organizations stepped
up and said, yes, we will help you with that.
So we do have a ROPES challenge course.
And our purpose there again is focus back on leadership.
We're not just going out there to have a good time.
We're focused on leadership development.
How do we build that community, that group dynamics and again
that is where the ROPES course fits in to that program.
Brenda Dann-Messier: Thank you, very much.
Alma Hobbs: Now, I am pleased to introduce to you Kea Boyd who is an
extension educator with Michigan State University.
She enjoys being able to see the positive impact that mentoring
has on the life of you participants.
Kea, would you please tell us why you enjoy that so much?
Kea Boyd: Sure. I think I am a natural advocate and giver to others.
I heard a lot of you mention that, too, that 4-H and Future
Farmers is about giving back.
So I plant my thoughts and my efforts about giving back to the
community with the mentoring program that I work with.
A lot of individuals are familiar with 4-H due to
agriculture but we also are familiar with the evolution
and the revolution of 4-H in urban settings.
So I am an educator in a 4-H mentoring program where I
coordinate mentoring services for young people
and unfortunately they may not be all the young people that
are in this room.
They are the young people that have challenges in their lives
that need additional role models and caring adults to assist them
in being able to accomplish their goals.
And I definitely live my life with my career as an advocate
for those young people in providing them with
opportunities that they may not necessarily have within their
family life.
So the mentors give them more support and hope in being able
to accomplish goals and developing leadership skills
within the program.
Brenda Dann-Messier: It's now my privilege to introduce Bill Jimmerson.
He has devoted a lifetime to agricultural education and the
FFA starting in the early 1970s as an Ag Ed teacher
for 25 years.
And then transitioning to the state level where he served as
the state FFA advisor in Montana for the past seven years.
Bill's most notable community work has been with Montana's
Native American population.
Bill, will you tell us about your work, especially
encouraging Native American students to engage with FFA.
Bill Jimmerson: Yes. Thank you, Brenda.
You have no idea what kind of an honor it is for me to be here
today and represent FFA and move into what I have done in my life
towards that end because I have had, I've had a wonderful career
or two careers getting to the point where I have.
I appreciate the students' comments because that's my
passion has always been young people.
But I think we need to, if you think back just briefly into our
history, you can think of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, the
Smith-Hughes Act from 1917 with what got America started on this
idea that, you know, if we put leadership skills in our young
people and put that, those skills, in their hands to take
and become successful, rather than a weapon, we're probably
going to be the greatest country on earth.
And I think we can all agree that that is happening.
The country's -- I don't believe there is the an FFI for Iraq
although we do have an FFA so maybe Afghanistan could learn
from us, too.
I was proud of the National FFA, it was two or three years ago at
the national convention when the Minister of Education of Iraq
was at that convention just to get an idea of maybe where they
have gone wrong in the past but maybe where they can go
in the future.
And so that's what I liked about 4-H.
I was a 4-H member back in my young days, transferred
then to FFA.
My high school ag teacher gave me, you know, inspired me to be
an ag teacher.
And so I've lived the dream.
I have, I have absolutely been able to hopefully encourage and
inspire young people myself.
But just very briefly, seven years ago when I started being
the state FFA advisor -- the state officers in the room know
what I'm talking about, we do a lot of traveling together -- we
happened to be in one of our reservations in Montana and my
state officer would not even roll down the window to ask a
Native American man, who was dressed similar to what I am
today, directions to their high school because he was
afraid of them.
And this was in Montana seven years ago.
And I thought at that time we need a program to not only
remove some of the biases that we have, but allow our Native
American students to be successful in FFA because
they had not been active in some of the -- most
of the contests and things.
And so I am very proud of that program.
After seven years and we made it a competition.
They brought their presentations to our state convention.
We made it sort of like a CDE, a career development
event for them.
And sent our winning team to the National FFA Convention.
They didn't have anything to compete in, but they did do
their presentations sometimes just in the halls and the Native
American chapters that got involved in Montana, just
amazing to see the development of those young people who now
felt they were a part of our organization.
And so that's been my passion.
And I could talk a little longer about it, but that's probably
what I need to do.
But I have been passionate about what I have done and it has
worked out pretty well.
So thank you.
Brenda Dann-Messier: You know, Bill, I happened to be at that FFA convention last year
when Native Americans were so prominently on the program.
And it was just such a heart-warming and important
conference where we brought the nations together with our folks
from across the country.
It was really a beautiful event.
So congratulations for all of your leadership and preparing
FFA for that event.
Bill Jimmerson: Thank you.
Alma Hobbs: Now it is my honor to introduce Andrea Kneer who works with the
University of Maryland Extension Service as a 4-H educator in
Baltimore City.
In addition to being a 4-H educator in Baltimore City,
she is also a volunteer with the Southern High School agriculture
Sciences Program and FFA chapter.
So Ms. Kneer, it looks like you are very busy.
So tell us how you do all of this?
Andrea Kneer-Rice: Well, I'm a life-long 4-H FFA member.
I actually grew up in Frederick County, Maryland.
And, you know, these are my people right here, everyone who
is involved with 4-H and FFA.
And I'm recently married to Joshua Rice and he is the high
school agriculture teacher at Southern High School so I'm kind
of 4-H during the day and in the evening I put on my FFA
hat once again.
And with Baltimore City, I grew up not too far
from Baltimore City.
And actually did a semester at UMBC there studying
graphic design.
And I thought, you know, this is a city that doesn't have a large
agriculture presence obviously.
So now being involved in 4-H and going in, I work with clubs that
focus around STEM education, so I'm teaching robotics.
And we just got a grant to do aquaponically grown 4-H clubs
and these are clubs we're giving them money funding
their project.
They're going to research different aquaculture systems
and aquaponics.
They're going to build it themselves.
They're probably going to end up raising Tilapia because that's
just the fish of choice.
And eventually they're going to sell their produce at a farmers
market and earn more money to sustain the project.
So that's kind of the big thing.
We also do an expo and this is our take on a county fair.
Now, Baltimore City -- there is Baltimore County, Maryland, and
Baltimore City, Maryland.
They are two different things.
So we don't really get a county fair.
But you can imagine the 4-H arts and crafts project building at
your own county fair; that's basically what we do.
We bring in students from all over the city.
We'll see 500 students in a day.
And they come in, they'll do performances.
We have speakers, skill-a-thon stations, so they really get to
show what they know at our county fair, not necessarily
showing an animal like you probably do at yours.
So it's just been a very enlightening experience getting
to be involved in agriculture in a totally different way from
what I experienced growing up.
And I'm very thankful to be back in the State of Maryland working
with the University of Maryland extension and working with the
youth that are definitely the future of our agriculture
systems but also our leadership in this world.
Alma Hobbs: Thank you, very much.
Brenda Dann-Messier: Thank you.
Now, I was to introduce a third honoree, Jessica McAtamney, and
unfortunately there were electrical problems with
AMTRAK this morning.
She was coming from Pennsylvania, from Philadelphia,
and couldn't be here.
So I'm going to ask you to indulge me and allow me to read
her full bio so that we can really honor and respect all
the work she has done in Philadelphia.
Jessica is currently an agriculture teacher as W.B.
Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jessica's leadership skills developed within her class
as an environmental science and agroecology teacher.
Within Jessica's agricultural class, agro, excuse me,
agroecology class, she has led a school science -- I'm sorry, I
lost my place, excuse me -- she has led a school-wide
recycling program.
Her students educate fellow peers and school faculty on
the importance of recycling and collect all the recyclables in
the classrooms weekly.
With her ingenious way of inform city kids on how to recycle, she
certainly has gained the respect from the staff and
students as they excel in learning environmental
conservation practices.
In addition to Jessica's leadership abilities in school
she has helped develop the largest urban public school
community-supported agricultural program in Philadelphia.
Henry Got Crops is the name of her CSA which was erected by
students and local cooperative extension organizations to
provide quality fresh vegetables by using urban
farming practices.
Students, as well as people in the community, are able to learn
skills at how to effectively raise vegetables crops for sale.
The CSA has allowed students to appreciate methods of
agriculture when dealing with crop management as well as
learning the importance of healthy eating.
The future goal of Henry Got Crops is to produce enough
vegetables that will be used for the lunches at Saul High School.
Jessica envisions that Saul High School will one day be a
complete model of a sustainable facility
in a major urban community.
I hope you'll all join me in saying congratulations
to Jessica.
And we miss you and hope you'll have another opportunity to come
to the White House and be honored as a White House
Champion of Change.
Alma Hobbs: It is my pleasure to introduce to you Dr. Samuel G. Roberson
from Texas.
Dr. Roberson is a 4-H specialist with the Cooperative Extension
Program at Prairie View A & M University.
He made a career shift to pursue his passion so he could do full
time what he did as a volunteer for 21 years.
Dr. Roberson, tell us what you've been doing!
Dr. Samuel Roberson: Well, I bring you all greetings from Texas.
Alma Hobbs: Howdy, howdy.
Dr. Samuel Roberson: That's a warm Texas A & M greeting --
Pete Dreisbach: Gig 'em.
Dr. Samuel Roberson: -- of which I am a graduate.
Pete Dreisbach: I am, too.
Dr. Samuel Roberson: I am currently Program Specialist at Prairie View A & M
University Cooperative Extension Program where in my role as a
program specialist, I provide program -- programming and
research and evaluation support to our 4-H program that is out
there attempting to make impacts with the youth in our community.
Prior to going back to graduate school, I worked in the
insurance business for a large insurance company and while I
worked for them I spent 21 years in the community.
I began as a youth sports coach and as I was coaching youth
sports, it was always a mission of mine to teach life skills
through sports.
And I guess I did a well enough job that the mayor at the time
in Fairfield, California, sought me out and asked if I would get
more civically involved.
And I was challenged.
I told him that I was not a politician.
That was not what I did.
And he said, well, Sam, how much time do you spend with the young
people, or how many young people you are impacting in sports?
Maybe 12 on your basketball team, 30 or 40 on your
football team.
And I said, well, yeah.
He said, well, why do you do it?
You know, I said, well, I enjoy impacting youth and
making a difference.
And he says, well, if I give you a platform to impact thousands,
why wouldn't you do it?
And basically it cut me and I couldn't walk away from that and
I accepted the challenge.
I came a Community Services Commissioner, got more greatly
involved in my community not just in impacting youth but all
facets of the community, whether it was the homeless community,
the cultural arts community.
And I just learned that it was my passion to make a difference
in the lives of other people.
I heard someone talk about that earlier.
I think you, Ms. Hobbs.
And so I decided to make a career shift and pursue my
doctorial degree in youth development.
And so I'm excited to be a part of the 4-H program.
Like some of you have mentioned before, I'm someone who grew up
in an urban area where my only knowledge of 4-H was through a
commute where I learned some rural smells of cow pastures
and I heard about animals.
And so one of the greatest finds or learnings in my studies in
youth development is the fantastic things that 4-H youth
development programs have been doing for years.
I think it's one of America's maybe greatest secrets.
I think it's a story that needs to be told.
It's a program that needs to be emphasized more in urban
communities because there is a tremendous amount of holistic
approach to youth development that's taking place.
And I'm excited to be a part of the 1890 Land-Grant Institution
system where we're trying to affect youth in the area of
science and healthy living, leadership, life skills
and citizenship.
And we specifically have a mission to try to target those
families from limited resource -- limited resource families and
minority youth, although our programs are available
for all youth.
So I'm very honored to be here today.
And I thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this
passion of work and the passion of what all these youth do here.
Alma Hobbs: Thank you, very much.
Brenda Dann-Messier: So let me just thank again our honorees for your passion, for
your commitment and your dedication.
And we're going to switch now and also ask you some questions.
And the questions are for whoever would like
to answer them.
But organizations like FFA and 4-H really play a critical role
in the education and preparation of our young people to be
productive and engaged citizens, workers, entrepreneurs,
scientists, teachers, and agricultural producers.
One of the critical issues that we face in education,
both formal and nonformal, is the recruitment retention and
support of teachers and youth development professionals.
From your experiences, please share with the group why did you
choose your profession?
And what continues to motivate and inspire you to work with
young people so when you all retire we'll have a cadre of
same professional and dedicated and passionate
colleagues behind you.
Who would like to start?
Kea Boyd: I would like to start.
Brenda Dann-Messier: That would be wonderful.
Kea Boyd: Thank you.
As I mentioned, when I began my career and even prior to
beginning my career, I always wanted to give back.
I always wanted to show people that I care and that there are
adults out there that care about young people.
So that's what motivates me.
And as I mentioned, I am an educator, an extension educator
for a 4-H mentoring program.
And to see the progression of the young people that I work
with that come from limited resources, their circumstances
may be challenging at home.
They may come from a single-parent home or
a low income.
And to see them participate in 4-H activities and 4-H
programming and curriculum and to progress through the years
because, as with clubs, they stay in the program throughout
middle school and throughout high school.
And to see their success in the skills that they gain is a
tremendous reward to see young people that may not have even
graduated from high school.
This past year, we had eight graduates within the program
that all went on to higher education whether at a
university or community college and that was huge!
So that was a great reward and that's what motivates me to
continue to do what I do.
Brenda Dann-Messier: Thank you. Yes, please.
Pete Dreisbach: There is actually two parts to that question.
One is what brought you into it.
Brenda Dann-Messier: That's right.
Pete Dreisbach: And again you've already figured that out.
Having grown up in the Third World and seeing extreme poverty
and extreme hunger, I don't remember a time in my life when
that wasn't important to me.
And again my father was a doctor.
My mom was a nurse.
But my interest was in the food production and seeing
the malnutrition that was happening around.
I was there during the Biafran War.
You have to be pretty -- have quite a bit of gray hair to
even remember that.
So again that is what got me into this thing.
And once I came to the states I discovered this fantastic thing
called FFA that put agriculture and youth development, and again
youth development, as everyone is using that today, these were
my peers, these are the kids that I was playing with.
It was their language I was using that got me into it and
that is how I got into it.
But what keeps me in this thing is watching these students year
after year as they come in as a freshman in my case or middle
schooler coming into the Leadership Training Center and
watching them develop and walk out the other side, now I have
some that are ag teachers, I have some that are in
the legislature.
I can call at least five of the legislators now.
Every year around election time I call them up and try to figure
out how they got elected.
Just to harass them.
Our Commissioner of Agriculture in Kentucky is not only one of
the products of our program, he also worked for me.
Brenda Dann-Messier: That's great.
Pete Dreisbach: And it's very easy to talk to him.
But watching the kid that came in that wouldn't get up and give
a speech, who was very backward and saying, okay, this kid is
not going to make it, but let's pull it out of him and then
watch it, that's what keeps me in this thing.
It's just amazing.
Bill Jimmerson: I could try.
I, of course, when I was in high school it was a pretty turbulent
time back in the '60s.
I had some very ominous things that happened to our leaders at
that time with the Vietnam War going on.
And I decided as a junior in high school, and I was like one
of the shy little country boys that went to a one-room school
and I didn't have a classmate until I went to high school.
But for some reason I had a mentor who was my ag teacher
that I mentioned before that he didn't really encourage me to
follow in his footsteps but I, in four years of FFA, then I got
to go to the -- I got three trips in four years, you know.
We went to state convention twice, the national convention
once, and to a livestock judging once, and that was, I thought
that's a pretty cool deal.
So I decided as a junior in high school to be a teacher.
And, of course, as most of us know, you don't become a teacher
to get rich in your life -- (laughter)
-- with money, but you do get rich in so many other ways.
And I think that's the story we need to make sure that these
young people understand and is why are you here?
It's probably because of an influence in your school.
And it's probably because of a 4-H leader or an FFA advisor.
And we desperately need more of you to consider being the next
generation of teachers and leaders to do the same to the
generation that follows you.
So I have absolutely no regrets.
In fact, I always say if I could hit that rewind button
(whoosh sound)
don't go back too far -- (laughter)
-- but I would do it all over again because I have loved what
the program offers.
Dr. Samuel Roberson: I would, if I could --
Brenda Dann-Messier: Please.
Dr. Samuel Roberson: -- I would share that my experience has been, I'll share
why I followed my passion, but my experience has been growing
up that quite often that this business is relational.
It's a relations-based business that we work with youth and that
as those who work with youth, there is a need to have those
that have a genuine concern for the well-being of our youth.
We suggest that our youth are the future.
Probably our most valued asset.
And so it's my opinion that the caretakers or the mentors or the
supporters of our youth should be compensated like they are the
caretakers of our most valued assets.
And so better compensation and finding ways to certainly
elevate and show respect for our teachers and educators and the
work that they do for our youth is important as we look to
recruit and retain the best and the brightest like these young
people that are in front of us if we want to attract them in to
a career of working with youth.
Andrea Kneer-Rice: Well, I know that when I was in college, my initial plan was to
some day work for the National FFA organization.
And my advisor said if you're going to work for National FFA,
you need to teach high school agriculture.
So I went through, I did my student teaching, and decided
being in the classroom every day is probably not for me.
But it is -- it takes a very special person to put up with
all of you!
So I really think that if we can train our preservice teachers
better in understanding high schoolers and we think, okay,
they're college kids, they're not far out of high school, but
I'm only five, six years out of high school and I feel that kids
are so different now than they were when I was still
in high school.
So I think better training for our preservice teachers will
lengthen the amount of time that they're in our system
as agriculture educators.
And as far as 4-H agents go, I think it's one of the best
careers you could ever have, working in 4-H and being around
clubs, establishing clubs.
And I think the hardest aspect of that job is to
gain volunteers.
So if we can get people to pretty much donate their
personal time into investing into our program and our youth,
that's going to make the 4-H educators' job less hard and a
lot more enjoyable and we'll see 4-H educators sticking
around there, too.
Brenda Dann-Messier: Can I just ask how many in our audience would like,
the students would like to be 4-H mentors,
agents or FFA educators?
Good! Good!
Raise them high! Raise them high!
Good. We need you. Excellent.
That's wonderful.
Thank you.
Alma Hobbs: I was glad to see all those hands go up.
As effective leaders and mentors and educators, especially the
ones we see here today, you have great influence on educating,
inspiring and motivating youth.
With organizations now addressing diversity and
inclusion, can you tell me what you are doing to make sure that
your programs and activities are open to all youth and they have
access and opportunities to succeed in the programs that
you are offering.
Pete Dreisback: I can tell you what we've done from our perspective.
At the Kentucky FFA Leadership Training what we have tried, we
have tried to put that diversity in our leadership at the
Leadership Training Center.
For example, those that are teaching the classes are summer
employees, we have tried our best to get some diversity in
that and so that way they are seeing diversity.
And by seeing diversity then, oh, I can do that.
Is what we're hoping to happen.
Alma Hobbs: Good. Very good.
Dr. Samuel Roberson: One of the things that we do, our communications director,
Miss Gloria Mosby, is charged with ensuring that as we market
our programs that we send out a communique making sure that it's
announced that we are an equal opportunity program.
That if there are any participants that have special
needs or adaptations, to call us in advance and we try to make
accommodations to make sure that our programs are available to
all that wish to participate.
We're beginning to put a number of our programs, in the State of
Texas, we have a high Hispanic population and we're beginning
to put a number of our programs advertising both
English and Spanish.
And we also make interpreters available when necessary.
Many of our evaluations now are also becoming more dual language
to make our programs more inclusive as we outreach in
the State of Texas.
Alma Hobbs: Very good. Anyone else?
Andrea Kneer-Rice: Well, Baltimore City, a lot of our youth are African American
and we have -- we're trying to incorporate a more diverse group
including Caucasians, Asians and Hispanic descendents and we're
able to do that by going into the schools and really trying
to recruit students into our community clubs that
are from different areas and different schools throughout
the community.
Bill Jimmerson: If I could just add that ag communications or communications
of all kinds is kind of what gets the word out about what all
these students achieve and other students, you have got to get
the word out to all students that these
programs are available.
And the more we can do to do that I think would increase the
chance of being able to keep our programs going forward.
America got it right to begin with and we continue to work
hard to keep it right.
Alma Hobbs: Very good. Kea?
Kea Boyd: As Mr. Roberson mentioned, at Michigan State University
Extension we do a lot of things to ensure that we are equal
opportunity employers, that we are inclusive in the programming
that we do.
But my program is a little bit unique.
And we have to ensure that we include diversity in
incorporating the youth that are in clubs.
So in other situations it's probably reverse where the
club community is the majority and urban
programming is the minority.
So within Michigan State University Extension within
William and Macomb Counties, it is kind of the opposite.
So we work to ensure that there is partnerships, there are
partnerships in place between the urban programming and also
the club-based programming so that we are doing programming
across the board and able to offer 4-H curriculum to all
of our participants.
Alma Hobbs: Thank you for that.
Brenda Dann-Messier: So as I think you've seen we've been pleased that Jessica
finally made it here from Philadelphia.
That shows great perseverance!
Jessica I read your bio.
But why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself in
your own words and talk about the work that you're
doing in Philadelphia.
It just sounds like you've been doing some extraordinary, making
some extraordinary gains and efforts.
So tell us a little bit about your work and then we'll get
you in to the question, the Q and A phase.
Jessica McAtamney: Okay. I'm Jessica McAtamney.
I am an environmental teacher there.
And also the urban gardening teacher and co-advisor with Miss
Kara Teene and about 15 other agricultural teachers at W.B.
Saul High School in Philadelphia.
We are the largest Pennsylvania chapter.
And we're doing a lot of neat things leadership-wise for kids
at the school.
I'm involved mainly with founding and helping supporting
and facilitating the community-supported agricultural
project that links something cooperatives which is a
cooperative in Philadelphia with Fairmount Park and the school.
And we provide vegetables that kids help produce.
It's about 140 members.
And we do some recycling and some really cool environmental
things at our school.
Brenda Dann-Messier: You're being very modest.
We were talking a little bit about your Henry Got
Crops initiative.
Jessica McAtamney: A student named it.
We're on Henry avenue.
Brenda Dann-Messier: That sounds great.
But what we just asked a couple of questions to our other
panelists and I'll just ask you to talk a little bit about it
from your experience.
How can we encourage and motivate young people to become
educators and why did you in fact go into this field?
And what can you share.
There are quite a few hands that went up in the audience of folks
who want to become educators or 4-H mentors and agents.
And so tell us a little bit about why you became an educator
and what you would say to these students to encourage them to go
into the field.
Jessica McAtamney: I studied environmental resource management and my mother was
very concerned that I was not going to have a career.
And she is a teacher.
And I received certification in agricultural education only to
continue on to study social work and found myself doing -- found
myself doing anger management in community
gardens in Philadelphia.
So I actually ended up back in the classroom in a different
type of garden setting.
So helping kids become involved in education means that we have
to have educators that are involved with them, who care
with them, who understand they're worth making the
strives for.
Alma Hobbs: Jessica, I have a question for you.
What is the most important decision you had to make
as a leader?
And what is your biggest challenge facing the youth
of today?
Jessica McAtamney: I'll take the second question first.
I think the youth of today are faced with many, many, many
options and there is a lot of doors in which they can enter.
But with that comes a lot of barriers.
And kids have to know and find out what they like so that they
can choose a pathway that they don't mind working within and
that they can be successful in.
It's a lot easier to go to work if you enjoy what you do.
But finding that passion in something that you believe in
takes time and it takes somebody who is involved with you who
cares enough about you to find out what that is to develop that
and to extract that.
Alma Hobbs: And your most important decision you made as a leader?
Jessica McAtamney: My most important decision as a leader would be to continue
fighting when sometimes it's much easier to quit.
Dr. Samuel Roberson: Awesome answer.
Alma Hobbs: Awesome.
Jessica McAtamney: And if you don't fight and if the educational system is not
set up to make things run smoothly, but if teachers
continue to fight, kids understand that teachers are
fighting for them, there might be a different platform.
Alma Hobbs: Very, very good.
Brenda Dann-Messier: We have time for one more question.
And I want to follow-up on a point that Jessica just made.
We've signed an MOU between the Department of Agriculture and
the Department of Education and we really want to increase the
impact of 4-H and FFA.
Tell us from your perspective, though, what are the challenges
that you've had to overcome so as we go forward and try to grow
and expand these efforts we can figure out strategies to
overcome the challenges.
No challenges?
Things are all going well?
Pete Dreisback: Well, I would think that the challenge is true with both
groups whether it is from the administrative point of view or
it's from the student point of view is as an administrator of
the Leadership Training Center I need to identify or we need to
identify -- we do have an advisor committee, of course --
we need to identify what are the barriers, what are the needs of
the young people that come to the leadership training center
for them to make that next step into becoming leaders.
That very same question happens to the students as well, too.
The students need to identify what their needs are,
what their barriers are.
And then as the administrator it becomes my job to find ways that
we can overcome those barriers that they can again make that
step over into leadership.
So I think that the greatest challenge that I have is
identifying what those needs are and then find the resources or
finding the input to address those needs and, of course,
then I think the student also has that very same issue,
is what are my needs as an individual and how do I find
the answer to that.
In my case hopefully through the Kentucky FFA Leadership Training
Center we'll provides those for them.
Brenda Dann-Messier: Kea?
Kea Boyd: Our greatest challenge has been identifying quality and
committed volunteers.
Volunteers that will not only meet the needs of the young
people and do the various things that we would require them to
do, but to go above and beyond what's expected of them and to
be committed to the 4-H'ers for extended periods of times
and long-term.
We have volunteers that may express interest but then may
not always follow through and continue with the
program for years.
But we do have wonderful volunteers that have been with
us for four, five, six years.
Brenda Dann-Messier: Uh-huh, sure.
Kea Boyd: But it's difficult to identify committed volunteers.
Brenda Dann-Messier: Anyone else? Andrea?
Andrea Kneer-Rice: Definitely going to agree with Kea.
I mean, volunteers, they're the lifeblood of both organizations.
And they are generous people donating their time.
And without them, I mean, there's only a couple of
educators, 4-H educators in each office and we're just
one person.
We're Champions of Change.
But without our volunteers we don't have as great an impact.
Brenda Dann-Messier: Bill, Sam?
Dr. Sam Roberson: One of the challenges that we face certainly in promoting 4-H
and youth development in urban settings and helping our urban
settings to understand how 4-H has been a staple of positive
youth development for over a century now and that many of
the families in urban settings migrated from rural settings and
you'll find that their family members and ancestors probably
were involved in 4-H at one period of time.
But finding ways to meet our urban communities where they
are with our programs to introduce them to all the
positive youth development opportunities that exist.
And sometimes funding can be a barrier in terms of making sure
that accessibility of all the programs are accessible.
Brenda Dann-Messier: Jessica? Bill?
Would you like to add anything?
Jessica McAtamney: One of the challenges in Philadelphia that we experience
is the students don't have familial background as far
as FFA is concerned.
There's not an experience base in an urban setting like you
would have in other counties within Pennsylvania, so one of
our challenges is getting kids involved in the FFA who don't
necessarily know the importance or the significance behind it.
Bill Jimmerson: Yeah, I would say it very similar, FFA continues to be
the future farmers of America.
Even on the screen when I walked in, even though in 1988 it was
changed to the National FFA organization.
And since we have like the third generation away from the farm,
most FFA programs, of course, as most of us know under OMAR are
geared towards servicing farmers.
Being in the service industry, it seems like to me the
challenge is is that even though, you know, there is
almost 20% of all jobs in America are agricultural, that
it's hard to get that message through to students who are
living in town that don't see a need or a value in agriculture.
So it continues to be something, I think, we all have to work
hard at to make sure people understand the value of
agriculture and education and how they join together.
So it's still always a challenge.
Alma Hobbs: All right.
As we wrap up today, I want to thank all of you
for your participation.
And you are truly Champions of Change!
There is a saying that to much is given, much is required,
and you have given a lot.
You have given back and you made a difference.
There is another saying that whatever one touches his aim
should always be to leave that what he touches better than he
found it.
So I want to thank you for coming.
I want to thank you for touching.
I want to thank you for changing.
Because you have truly made this world a better place
than you found it.
Thank you, very much.