Members of the Ohio Hi-Point satellite middle school FFA chapter located at Graham Middle School. Their advisor, Ms. Emily Burns, is in her first year as an agricultural educator and FFA advisor. The Chapter participates in events such as creed speaking, general livestock judging and community service projects. Photo provided by Emily Burns.

National FFA Week: First year teachers excelling in the classroom

With over 300 FFA chapters in Ohio, there are hundreds of dedicated advisors, who also serve as agricultural education instructors. Each year, a handful of new, eager faces join the agricultural education family in Ohio.

“I wanted to teach [agricultural education] because I have a passion for agriculture and I believe that no matter what your interests are you should have a base knowledge about it,” said Emily Burns, who is currently in her first year as an educator.

Burns teaches at the Ohio Hi-Point satellite middle school program located at Graham Middle School in Champaign County. Burns added, “I also love to work with students and watch them grow into wonderful leaders!”

Fellow first year teacher, DJ Gase, agrees with Burns that educating young people about agriculture is important.

“I wanted to teach [agricultural education] to help students learn more about one of the largest industries in the United States,” said Gase, who teaches grades 9 through 12 at Cleveland East Technical High School located in Cuyahoga County. “Kids enjoy seeing the work they did pay off. When the kids plant anything they get excited after it starts to grow.”

As first year teachers, Burns and Gase have already learned valuable lessons about their students and programs.

“I’ve learned that not every kid enjoys hands on activities, [but] building good relationships with students makes those students more willing to learn,” Gase said.

Staying on top of new technology has also been important.

“Ask what things you need to know because there are plenty of things you don’t even know you need to know,” said Burns, who teaches a seventh grade career exploration class and an eighth grade introduction to agriculture course. “The most surprising thing I have learned is how much technology is out there to use.”

Both Burns and Gase graduated with degrees in Agriscience Education from The Ohio State University in May 2017. Along with valuable lessons, there have been plenty of exciting surprises for the first year teachers.  Both Burns and Gase are looking forward to finishing out their first year as teachers and the opportunities ahead.

“I am most looking forward to working on growing the [middle school] chapter and getting the students even more opportunities next year. We will also be hopefully going to camp and fair which I love,” Burns said.

As Gase wraps up his first year as a teacher and FFA advisor, he is looking forward to bringing his students to the annual state FFA convention in May and summer FFA camp.

The Ohio FFA Association and Ohio agricultural education family are devoted to ensuring all teachers, including first year educators, are well equipped to succeed in the classroom. The Teach Agriculture Ohio program is one initiative used to assist future and current agricultural educators. To learn more about resources available, check out or follow them on Facebook:

Be sure to also follow the Ohio FFA Association on social media to see more stories and spotlights of FFA members, chapters and advisors.


Twitter: @OhioFFA

Instagram: @OhioFFA

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