In this Farm Bureau Feature, meet Mercer County Farm Bureau member Deanna Wenning, who is in her 10th year as the agriscience educator at Coldwater High School. As an agriscience educator, Wenning’s job is to teach a wide variety of topics, giving students an introduction to the vast career opportunities available to them in the field of agriculture and beyond. On any given day, Wenning might teach agribusiness, plant science, animal science, and mechanical principles, the result of which is a dynamic and exciting work environment for her and a learning environment for her students.
Wenning said one of the most rewarding parts of her job is establishing relationships and rapport with students. Often, she gets to teach the same students through all four years of high school. Another enjoyable aspect of her position is getting to serve as the Coldwater FFA advisor. Through FFA events and programming, Wenning gets to travel with her students to conventions, competitions and more activities across the state and sometimes the nation.
Agriculture education in the United States is modeled as a comprehensive program intended to complement the traditional classroom experience.
“I always like to tell [students] that they’re not just taking another class in high school; they’re becoming a part of a huge program which will benefit them in the future,” she said.
The three components of agriculture education are classroom and shop instruction, membership in the National FFA Organization, and supervised agricultural experience (SAE) which teach students a wide variety of skills. While some of these skills are directly related to an ag career, others are lifelong communication and leadership skills. Wenning especially likes the way this program teaches students to be comfortable with public speaking.
“I always want my students to be able to address a group of people without, you know, being super nervous,” she said. Another lifelong skill the FFA teaches is community involvement and community service. Coldwater FFA serves the wider community by volunteering at the Coldwater Community Picnic and by shoveling snow in the wintertime.
Most importantly, Wenning aims to help her students become informed and productive members of society. By teaching some of these skills, she hopes that her students will join the world as “well-rounded, educated voters.” Wenning stresses to her students the way their everyday choices can impact American agriculture.
Overall, Wenning’s passion for agriculture education stems from knowing that “students will be introduced to so many diverse opportunities for them to find their path that truly interests them…students will be introduced to so many foundational skills that can honestly lead them to any career in life.”
You can keep up with the Coldwater FFA by following them on Facebook.
Story Credit: Maggie Houts, Celina, former intern for Mercer County Farm Bureau