Rosewood teacher recognized for agriculture program
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 18, 2010 1:50 AM
Allison Jennings always knew she wanted to be a teacher, from the time she worked with little ones in Bible school at her church.
Growing up in Morehead City, her high school teachers also made a positive impression on the formerly shy student.
"They helped me develop my communication skills," she says, adding, "I was inspired by my ag teachers."
Their example prompted her to go into the same field. The fifth-year educator, all at Rosewood High School, teaches horticulture, animal science and shop.
The animal science aspect has especially become popular, she noted, and this year the school will have a livestock barn on campus.
"We will have a sheep and goats year-round," she said. "Normally, students can show livestock, but need a place to keep the animals. This is going to be an everyday, all-year-long experience so it's real exciting."
Her efforts and enthusiasm in the field have paid off in other ways. She was recently selected 2010 N.C. winner of the Outstanding Young Member Award given by the National Association of Agricultural Educators.
Recipients are agricultural educators who have been teaching for less than six years and have demonstrated significant progress toward establishing a successful agricultural education program.
Judging is based on such criteria as teaching philosophy, effective classroom and experiential instruction, development of partnerships and professional growth.
The award was created to encourage early career agriculture teachers to remain in the profession, as well as become active members in their professional association.
No problem on either count, Mrs. Jennings said.
"I have just had a lot of fun," she said. "The Rosewood community is so great and so is the faculty and staff.
"It means a lot when students feel like they have grown as a person and to see freshmen come in kind of shy like I was, to become really good leaders. You feel really good about the people that are going to be in the community when they graduate. I feel like our program, with the FFA (Future Farmers of America) and the classes, has really built some of those students."
Rosewood has a particularly good-sized membership, Mrs. Jennings said, with about a 50/50 ratio of male and female students.
"We actually have a lot of girls who pursue the leadership stuff and community service," she said. "Guys are into the shop and greenhouse and also the competitions."
As a female participating in FFA and agriculture programs, first as a student and now as a teacher, the state recognition is especially gratifying.
"It means that I'm beginning to establish myself as an ag teacher in North Carolina in a predominantly male group," she said. "I feel like I have gained respect from my peers."
The young member award program is sponsored by John Deere as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. Mrs. Jennings will next compete against winners from surrounding states for the regional honor.
Regional winners will receive a plaque and an expense-paid trip to attend the 2010 NAAE Convention in Las Vegas in December.
Regardless of whether she wins at the regional level, though, she is already slated to go to Las Vegas, as a workshop presenter at the convention.
She was in Maryland this past week receiving training. Her topic will be the National Agriculture Science Ambassador program, helping bridge the gap between ag and science, preparing for the wave of the future, agriscience and biotechnology.
Husband Brent also works in a similar field, as 4-H youth livestock specialist at N.C. State University.
The couple are expecting their first child in February.