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SD Department of Education
Feb. 2017  

  TEACHER FEATURE: Growing CTE in Platte-Geddes

Platte-Geddes FFA Students standing in from of Y Bar Ranch Sign.

Whether advising FFA or looking for the next improvement she can make to the Platte-Geddes agriculture, food and natural resources class offerings, Cayla Graves is an educator on the move. We caught up with her just before she left for Texas with some of her senior FFA students.

Where did you and your students go?
The seniors in FFA have to meet certain qualifications over their four years in order to go on the trip. We’ve gone to Florida twice. We’ve gone to Illinois to visit John Deere plants twice.

This year, we went to Texas. We attended the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. We toured Y Bar Ranch, which raises commercial crossbred cattle. They also focus on wildlife management and provide hunting opportunities. We drove further south to visit the San Antonio Viejo Ranch, which is part of the East Foundation. We spent time along the Gulf Coast visiting Padre Island and Corpus Christi. Our last tour was HeartBrand Ranch, which raises a Japanese breed of cattle called Akaushi.

Platte-Geddes FFA Students photo on beach of  Padre Island in Texas
Platte-Geddes senior FFA members on Padre Island in Texas

How do you partner with Platte business Meyerink Farm Service?
They have helped me in a variety of ways, including showing students some different things with our plasma-cutting table. Students don’t always like to listen to their teacher, but when somebody who’s actually doing that job comes in and says, no, you need to do it this way, they seem more apt to do it. So I always appreciate that. They have also been good about letting students tour the business.

Meyerink also gave us tips and suggestions as we were applying for the Workforce Education Grant we received from the Department of Education. They helped us better understand what we need in order to catch up with what they actually use in the industry.

How will your district use its Workforce Education Grant?
Right now, we really don’t have resources for students to explore welding or metalworking, so we will be using it to develop a new welding area, with six to eight welding booths.

How does your certification in CASE (Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education) Animal Science add value to your CTE program?
Once you do this training, it gives you a year’s worth of curriculum right at your fingertips. It gives you a more hands-on way of doing things, like if you can’t always get out to a farm for animal science, for instance. And having gone through the training, I’ve done all the labs myself, so I’m better prepared to help students when they encounter challenges.

You’re also looking to expand your school’s family and consumer sciences program, right?
Yes. I got a Monsanto Growing Rural Education Grant this summer that we’re using to secure two kitchen units. My goal is to eventually get CASE-certified in Food Science, too, so that we can make it a year-long course. Students have been showing strong interest in these kinds of courses.

What are some projects your students enjoy?
We build Adirondack chairs in my entry-level shop class. Sometimes students grumble about this project at first, but I bring out my Adirondack chair and let them sit in it. Then they think it’s great, and when they all get theirs built, they just think they’re the greatest things ever.

In my plant science class, I also bring in a local florist, and we do three days of floral design with her. She brings in real flowers for us to use. Some of the boys tend to grumble at first, but it usually ends up being a hit. The first day, each student donates their arrangement to a teacher. The next day, they get to take their arrangement home to give to perhaps their mom or grandma. The last day, we typically take the arrangements to the nursing home to give to residents.

What is the NAAE (National Association of Agricultural Educators) Teachers Turn the Key Scholarship you earned last year?
I would recommend this to anyone. The application is a little long, but it’s totally worth the experience and professional development opportunities.

By earning it, I received an all-expense paid trip to the national career and technical education conference. The Teachers Turn the Key recipients were all in our own workshops. We got to network with ag teachers at our same teaching level from all over the U.S. We made our own little group on Facebook, and we still share ideas. It was awesome professional development for new and beginning teachers. They have great speakers and facilitators.

Platte-Geddes senior FFA members with two cowboys at San Antonio Viejo Ranch in Texas
Platte-Geddes senior FFA members with two cowboys (left) at San Antonio Viejo Ranch in Texas
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