Monday, October 26, 2015

Ag Jobs A to Z: FFA Advisor

Photo credit: A-P FFA
When I was a senior in high school, there was a student teacher from Iowa State in our agriculture class. That year, he was a big part of our classroom and FFA chapter. He helped teach our classes, attended FFA conferences and even had us out to his parents' house for a delicious dinner one night. Our student teacher was Mr. Carlton Ness. Today, he's an Ag Teacher and FFA Advisor at Aplington-Parkersburg High School.

I really enjoyed having Mr. Ness as a teacher for a short time in high school and I know his students at Aplington-Parkersburg are lucky. I appreciate the time he took to share his perspective as an FFA Advisor on for today's Ag Jobs A to Z blog post!

1. Where did you go to school? 
I graduated from Iowa State University in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Ag Education and a minor in Agronomy.

2. What inspired you to pursue a job as an FFA Advisor? 
Growing up on a farm in Jewell, Iowa, I always knew agriculture was going to be the career field for me. I think what influenced me the most to choose the career I did was my experience with my High School Ag Teacher/FFA Advisor. He had such an impact on me. In fact I had to teach a lesson to my Animal Science class in High School and when I was done he asked me if I have ever considered a career in Ag Education. At the time I thought he was kidding, but 5 years later I was starting my career at an Ag Educator/FFA Advisor.
Photo Credit: A-P FFA

3. How long have you been working as an FFA Advisor? 
I am now in my 4th year of teaching at Aplington-Parkersburg High School.

4. What skills are necessary for a career as an FFA Advisor? 

I think to be a successful Ag Teacher/FFA Advisor you need a number of different skills. You need to be a good communicator, as you work with students, other teachers, administrators, community supporters and business professionals. One of the most overlooked skills is that you need to be a good salesman. Because your classes are electives, you have to pitch your program and the experiences you have to offer to young people. Finally you have to be passionate about agriculture! It is hard to get people excited about what you are doing if you are not excited as well!

5. How does your job fit into the agricultural industry? (Who do you work with? Who do you help? Who helps you?) 
I get to work directly with students and my purpose is to hopefully guide them to careers in agriculture. I teach classes in Animal Science, Agronomy, Plant Science, Welding, Ag Mechanics, Ag Business, and Ag Issues. My goal is to inspire them to find one of these topics and become passionate about them like I am.

The people that help me most are ag business professionals and agricultural members of our community. The best thing you can do in this profession is surround yourself with experts and people that value what you are doing. I have had the opportunity to develop relationships with great people in multiple segments of the ag economy including agronomy and seed sales, animal science professionals, manufacturing professionals, and farmers. Their support has been unbelievable!
Photo Credit: A-P FFA

6. What career/internship opportunities are there as an FFA Advisor? 
In terms of internships, Iowa State Universities College of Ag and Life Sciences has field base experiences for students interested in Ag Education. The final “internship” would be your student teaching experience.

As far as career opportunities the possibilities are endless! A degree in Ag Education can take you so many places. If teaching interests you, a job will be waiting for you as soon as you graduate. Statewide we are currently facing a shortage in Ag Teachers. We need more people that care about he future of agriculture, to inspire young people about the industry that is the backbone of our Iowa Economy.

7. Is there anything else you would like a student audience to know?
I choose this career because I like variety. Everyday I do something different, and I can even say every hour I do something different. Growing up I had such good experiences with all different facets of agriculture, whether it was animal science, agronomy, ag mechanics, crop production or FFA. I found a profession where I could experience it all on a daily basis. I get to travel all of the time (gearing up for our trip to Louisville next week), work on farms, go to livestock shows, interact with the community, and develop great relationships with other ag teachers in my profession. But the best part is helping young people find their passion in agriculture and watching them grow and meet their goals.

Thanks Mr. Ness for his encouragement and advice! With such a passionate teacher and advisor, I know his students will do well. I hope our paths cross again at Iowa FFA Convention. Thanks for reading!

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