National Teach Ag Day: A Tribute to My Ag Teacher

Without FFA, my life would be completely different.

It was through FFA that I learned how to be a part of something bigger than myself, to stick up for agriculture and make life long friendships.

I even met my fiance through FFA!

Mr. York, my state officer teammate, Tyler, and I in 2008.

I’ve written several posts about my fond FFA memories and my experience as an active FFA alumni member.

I’ve never written about the fact that I almost didn’t join FFA.

As an eighth grader, my older friends had told me stories about the freshman ag teacher, Mr. Wes York.

They said he picked on students and when it came time for tests he didn’t cut anyone any slack.

They said that he expected his FFA members to take their contests seriously and practice constantly.

To further confuse my 14 year-old self, Mr. York was the teacher version of Larry the Cable Guy.

His office was decorated with Nascar and hunting decor. He wore camouflage button-up shirts with a hunter orange ties.

I admit it, I was intimidated.

Luckily, my mom was a former FFA member and made me take the freshman agriculture class. She insisted that I give FFA and Mr. York a chance and if I hated it I was welcome to quit.

On the first day of school, I nervously entered the classroom.

Mr. York came inside, handed us a syllabus and said to get out a blank piece of paper and write out every word to our favorite song.

Everyone looked around, confused but too scared to question the assignment.

When we had all finished, Mr. York took our stack of song lyrics to the front of them room.

In his right hand, he held up someone’s assignment. In his left hand, he held up the FFA manual, opened to the page that shows the FFA Creed.

“If you can memorize these lyrics, you can memorize the FFA Creed,” he said.

“Don’t tell me you can’t because you’ve just proven you can. And trust me…you will.”

This unorthodox teaching style was unlike anything I had ever experienced before but it worked.

We all said the FFA Creed.

For the rest of the semester, we knew that this was one class where we couldn’t make excuses and we actually had to give it our all.

Mr. York with students at the 2009 National FFA Convention

The assignments were designed to actually make us learn and think critically instead of repeat facts like my other classes.

He made cheerleaders learn to weld and the most redneck boys give speeches.

Every class assignment made us step out of our comfort zone and grow not only as a student but as a person.

That intimidating ag teacher did pick on his students but not because he was a bully.

Mr. York knew that as high school kids we would work harder if we knew that a half-finished assignment would make us the subject of his jokes for the rest of the day.  And it worked!

He was a stickler for punctuality and professionalism among FFA members.

He constantly reminded us that when we wore our FFA jacket we were not just representing ourselves but our FFA chapter and the entire agriculture industry.

Right before I retired from state office, my team had an “Adviser Thank You” banquet.

We honored our ag teachers, shared stories from our chapters and thanked them for supporting us throughout our FFA career.

As the years have gone by, however, I’ve realized that I now appreciate everything Mr. York did so much more.

Ag teachers make an impact every day in the classroom.

What makes them even more special is that they continue to make an impact long after their students have graduated.

This National Teach Ag Day, I’m so thankful that Mr. York embraced the challenges of being an ag teacher.

Even after three years hanging up my blue jacket, I still look to my ag teacher as a friend and a mentor.

About Celeste

Celeste grew up on a family beef cattle and show pig farm in Western Kentucky. In addition to farming and life as a restaurant wife, Celeste owns Celeste Communications where she works as a photographer, graphic designer, videographer and consultant. This blog is Celeste's personal soapbox. Any ranting or raving is her own and does not reflect the opinions of any of her clients. All photos and posts are copyrighted property of Celeste Communications.

Comments

National Teach Ag Day: A Tribute to My Ag Teacher — 2 Comments

  1. Thank you for being such a great student and leader (even after hanging up the jacket). More than once I have questioned my decision to be a public school teacher, but students come along like you, Magen Roberts, Kristina Williams, BW, and many many many more and reinforce the idea that I am doing the right thing. I love looking back through pictures in the Ag office and going back, there aren’t any pictures of bad times. Thanks for being an encourager to so many and an Agriculture ambassador that we are all proud of.

    Love ya,

    York

  2. I love FFA Ive never been able to do much like sports or stuff like that but when i got to high school i met a person who would change my life my FFA adviser she is the best person in the world i know i have teachers that would help me anytime i need but my FFA adviser would go the extra mile to do anything for me she was the one to comfort me when i found out my mom had cancer and and was there when i bought my own greenhouse my life will forever be changed by my FFA adviser.

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