Florida Dairy Farmers Release New iPad App

image003Kids, adults and educators alike can now learn about dairy farming in an exciting way through the Florida Dairy Farmers new iPad app, SunnyBell’s Florida Dairy Farm Adventure. The free app that can be downloaded from iTunes, is a fun, interactive romp through a Florida dairy farm.

SunnyBell – a little calf who longs to be an important part of the dairy farm, teaches kids about nutritious milk and where it comes from. The story is interactive and immersive, while kids learn about how a dairy farm works. The app also includes sing-along “moo”sicals, word-search puzzles, coloring pages and quizzes.

SunnyBell’s Florida Dairy Farm Adventure app is not only great for kids of all ages, but is also an exceptional educational tool for parents and educators, and uses games and songs to improve cognitive abilities in kids.

“The SunnyBell app shares the experience of life on a Florida dairy farm while reinforcing the message of where our milk comes from. Children are easily engaged, via educational songs and games that boast interactive animation, while learning about the importance of dairy foods in the diet,” says Alyssa Greenstein, registered dietitian with Florida Dairy Farmers. “As a registered dietitian and mother of three, I especially enjoy the fact that the SunnyBell app helps kids and adults separate nutrition from fads and misinformation.”

To download the free app, visit www.floridamilk.com and check out our new Kids Corner where you can learn, play and grow with SunnyBell.

GROWMARK Announces Essay Contest Theme

growmarklogoThe theme for the 2014 GROWMARK Essay Contest is: “Promoting Sustainability and Conservation of Natural Resources.” The contest is open to all high school FFA members in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

This is the 21st year for the program, sponsored by the GROWMARK System and FS member cooperatives, in conjunction with state FFA leaders, to help young people develop their writing skills, learn about current issues affecting agriculture, and understand the unique role of cooperatives. This year, students will focus on three questions: What does sustainability mean? Why should farmers be concerned with conservation and sustainable practices? What role do cooperatives play in this effort?

Essays should be approximately 500 words, typed and double-spaced. The postmarked entry deadline for Iowa FFA members is February 14. The postmarked entry deadline for Illinois and Wisconsin FFA members is March 14. Additional program details have been sent to agriculture teachers and are online at www.growmark.com (click on Our Commitments/Youth & Young Farmers/Essay Contest).

Each state’s winner earns a $500 award and the winner’s FFA chapter receives a $300 award. Four runners-up per state each win $125 awards.

Gemperle Farms Introduces Kid-Friendly Video Series

eggsGemperle Family Farms has launched an online video series to showcase egg-related crafts, recipes and science experiments, and to provide a behind-the-scenes look at farm life.

“At our Gemperle Chicken Ranch, we think it’s important to educate customers on what makes Gemperle Eggs special while having fun at the same time,” explained Gemperle Family Farms President Steve Gemperle. “These videos take an egg and transform it from a kitchen staple into an interesting and engaging science experiment, recipe or craft.”

All the videos highlight Gemperle chickens and eggs, ranging from explaining Egg-o-Nomics, to showcasing the Gemperle family’s dedication to happy and healthy chickens. For example, the kid-produced Bouncy Egg video uses Gemperle eggs to show kids how science can transform an egg into a rubber toy. There are already more than a dozen videos available and more added monthly.

In support of the new video series, Gemperle Farms is hosting an online contest, “Holiday Video Viewing.” Contestants are invited to watch educational and entertaining child-friendly videos on the website for a chance to win one of three fabulous prizes.

Go to the Gemperle Family Farms video webpage, watch a video, and send Gemperle Farms an email. Emails should be sent to susangemperleabdo@gmail.com with the subject line, “Gemperle Farms Videos.” In the text, include your name and the number of videos you watched. For each video, contestants will receive one entry into the drawing for an Amazon gift card. The contest runs through December 13, 2013. Winners will be randomly selected on December 16.

Prancing, Dancing Lily Moves Into App Market

PDL titleAward-winning book, Prancing, Dancing Lily, can now be found world-wide as a multi-platform app. The heartwarming story about an Ayrshire cow determined to hoof and groove around the globe, was written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by John Manders. App developers and author have teamed up with interactive media publisher, Fat Red Couch.

“The Fat Red Couch team provided years of experience in storytelling and are a delight to work with,” says Ms. Arnold. “We persevered in our search for the perfect app just as Lily persevered in her search for the perfect dance, and just like Lily, we had a great time on the journey. Lily’s story will delight anyone who’s ever felt different from the herd. Children can interact with Lily as they read or listen to the story and enjoy playing puzzles.”

Download Prancing, Dancing Lily on iTunes, Android, and Amazon for $1.99. For a preview of the app, visit Vimeo. To learn more about Lily and author Marsha Diane Arnold, please visit www.prancingdancinglily.com. To learn more about Fat Red Couch, a member of the collaborative group of family-friendly app developers Moms With Apps, visit www.fatredcouch.com.

Celebrate FFA Week

164408_10151453625740660_34121918_nFFA Week is in full swing as FFA members from across the country take part in activities promoting and past members reminisce about all the opportunities the organization gave them.

The National FFA Organization has been a part of my life since the day I was born. My dad was an ag teacher, so I was raised in the organization. Once I was old enough to zip up my very own FFA jacket I couldn’t wait to take in everything the FFA had to offer. The blue corduroy let a shy girl, who lacked confidence, blossom into a public speaker, leader and advocate for agriculture.

Later in life the National FFA Organization gave me the opportunity to share my passion with my students as a ag teacher. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your students hard work pay off as they walk across the stage to receive their State FFA Degree or an award for a Career Development Event.

Today, the FFA is more to me than just memories. National blue and corn gold bleed through me each day. The FFA Motto of:
Learning to Do
Doing to Learn
Earning to Live
Living to Serve
Is a motto we should all bring into our everyday lives. Everyday is a learning opportunity. Everyday hard work gives us the opportunity to provide for our families. Everyday we should live to serve our friends, family and community.

I was disappointed to find out the video, So God Made An FFA Member, has been removed from YouTube. I hope to get it posted as soon as it is back online.

Joshua Bledsoe Named COO of the National FFA


Joshua Bledsoe was named chief operating officer of the National FFA Organization. Bledsoe will manage major FFA operations and lead the overall execution of the 557,318-member organization’s strategic plan, reporting directly to CEO Dr. Dwight Armstrong.

Bledsoe has previously served as the state agricultural education leader and state FFA advisor for North Carolina and has accumulated 15 years of progressive leadership and management experience within agricultural education. He has been a key member on numerous national and state FFA boards and committees, and is a member of the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education, among other professional organizations.

As COO, Bledsoe will lead key FFA organizational units, including education; convention and events management; partner services; information technology; marketing, communications and brand management; and merchandising and customer fulfillment.

As the North Carolina State Agricultural Education Leader, Bledsoe provided leadership and overall coordination for agricultural education within the state. He was charged with leading an 11-member state agricultural education team and ensuring professional development opportunities for teachers. Bledsoe also developed and maintained close working relationships with local, state and national agencies and organizations. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Bledsoe earned both undergraduate and master’s degrees in agricultural education.

Bledsoe will relocate to Indianapolis with his family to begin the new role on Feb. 18.

Update On Missouri CTE Programs

Last week I shared how Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in the state of Missouri are being threatened by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) new Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP 5). MSIP 5 removes the priority for organizations like the FFA from a students high school education.

Bringing attention to this issue has got a lot of people talking about it and what they can do to help preserve vocational programs for the future of Missouri’s youth. The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association has done just that by releasing a Call To Action In Support of FFA.

The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) submitted comments on behalf of its members today, Nov. 26, 2012, regarding changes that the DESE have proposed in a new version of the MSIP 5 that will impact CTE courses in high schools. The changes have direct implications on agricultural education and FFA.

The new wording in MSIP 5, in comparison to MSIP 4, does not emphasize CTE and student organizations such as FFA. It is important that the wording be clarified to keep these programs strong in the state of Missouri.

MCA is encouraging all cattlemen and cattlewomen to take action and submit a letter of concern. Comments must be postmarked by Nov. 30, 2012. Send comments to:

Margie Vandeven, Assistant Commissioner Office of Quality Schools
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
P.O. Box 480

In MCA’s call to action they also included a sample letter for people to use. It includes three key points that DESE needs to consider changing before MSIP 5 is finalized. I also encourage you to share your own personal story as to why career and technical education programs like the FFA have made a difference in your life.

This morning I spoke with Mike Deering, Executive Vice President of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, about their support for the Missouri FFA and the importance of representatives in Jefferson City to listen to those directly affected by the changes in MSIP 5.

Listen to my interview with Mike here: Mike Deering - MCA

Career & Technical Education Threatened in Missouri

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs such as the Missouri FFA strive to teach students valuable skills through leadership opportunities & hands-on learning in high school vocational classes. There is a proposal sent out by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) removing the priority for organizations like the FFA from a students high school education.

CTE is not limited to just the FFA. It also encompasses Family & Consumer Sciences, Health Sciences, Business & Marketing Education, Trade & Technical, Technology & Special Needs. Can you imagine high school without these programs?

Supporters of CTE need to be aware of the changes that have been proposed that may erode the CTE delivery system in Missouri. Interested groups and individuals would include business and industry along with their trade associations, community leaders, legislators, teachers, administrators, staff, parents and STUDENTS, both current and former. Think about whom in your community should be alerted and asked to take action.

DESE has proposed MSIP 5. This will replace MSIP 4, which has effectively been suspended by the DESE. The MSIP 5 proposal appears to remove the weight given to CTE programs in a school evaluation process and no longer specifically requires 4 program areas to be available with a minimum of 12 credit hours and 20 credit hours as the desirable standard for CTE.

Generate letters objecting to the proposed rule in it’s current form and ask for changes. Send your letters to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Attention: Margie Vandeven, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Quality Schools, P.O. Box480, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0480. Be sure to reference the appropriate code of state regulation citation of 5 CSR 20-100.255. Send a copy of your letter to your legislator and follow up with a conversation regarding what is at stake. Comments must be received by Nov. 30, 2012.

For more information check out these resources:
Missouri ACTE Outreach 2012
Proposed MSIP 5 Information

If you have questions about this issue please contact:
Jon Wilson
Legislative Chair – MOACTE
Gainesville FFA
417-679-4200 – jwilson@gainesville.k12.mo.us

Cowgirl Up! Let’s Go Ranching

With Christmas just around the corner, this just might be the perfect stocking stuffer for the little one in your life. The twins have brought you another educational story of life on the ranch.

Sheridan and Rianna Chaney are proud to bring you the fourth book in the “The Chaney Twins’ Ag Series.” This book, “Cowgirl Up! Let’s Go Ranching” follows the girls’ experiences with ranch life in America’s Heartland. The girls’ adventures keep young readers engaged and smiling. What began as a project in school lead the Chaney twins on one the greatest, fun-filled educational journeys of their lives that they are now happy to share. The eight-year-old girls sat down with this fourth book in “The Chaney Twins’ Ag Series” and helped their Mom write the text.

All four books are full of captivating full-color photos by professional photographer and the books co-creator Kelly Hahn Johnson. The text is geared towards preschool and elementary-aged children and has been widely used by Farm Bureau groups and Ag in the Classroom programs. This series serves as a great educational tool for all, whether your children have been born or raised on the farm or are still learning where their food comes from.

The books and lesson plans have been added to the USDA National Resource Directory for Agriculture in the Classroom. Lessons plans are available in free downloadable form at www.pabeef.org. Books are $12 each, or $40 for the four-book “Bundle” special, plus shipping. Special discounts are available for larger orders for ag groups.

For more information or to place an order, call Rebecca at 301-271-2732, email her at chaneyswalkabout@aol.com, Or place an order directly from the web site at www.Rebeccalongchaney.com.

4-H and FFA “Champions of Change” Honored

The White House this week recognized 12 members and leaders of FFA and 4-H as Champions of Change, a program to honor ordinary Americans doing great work in their communities. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities

“The members of 4-H and FFA are shining examples of the positive change young Americans are bringing across the country, said Jon Carson, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement. “Today we are not only celebrating the work of students having an impact on their communities, but we’re also honoring the mentors and teachers who are fostering these leadership skills in the youth of today.”

The honorees were:
Ridge Howell, Checotah, Oklahoma
Jessica McAtamney, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Jacob Dickey, Champaign, Illinois
Neeta Patel, Princeton, New Jersey
Kea Norrell Boyd, Lansing, Michigan
Bill Jimmerson, Bozeman, Montana
Kaydn Ence, Saint George, Utah
Jordan Paine, Oxford, Nebraska
Chamonix Mejia, Laredo, Texas
Samuel Roberson, Prairie View, Texas
Andrea Kneer-Rice, Frederick County, Maryland
Pete Dreisbach, Hardinsburg, Kentucky

Alpharma’s Reach Teach and Learn Program

Alpharma Animal Health
is reaching out to teach young people more about agriculture through a grassroots educational program called “Reach Teach and Learn.”

The company launched the program earlier this year at the 2009 Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. The program supports local school districts and colleges through initiatives that encourage students to learn more about agriculture and how their food is produced, and to share their insights and knowledge about what they learned. I talked with Dr. Lance Fox, Alpharma’s Director of Technical Services, at their exhibit during World Dairy Expo about the purpose of the program.

WDX“Essentially the program is designed to reach out to our youth – elementary, high school, college-level students – our future leaders of tomorrow, to promote agricultural awareness,” Lance told me. “It’s not about products, it’s just about reaching out to the youth.”

It’s also about motivating young people to reach their own personal and professional goals, something Lance has done in his own life and he shares that story when he talks with young people of all ages. He grew up in the Wisconsin dairy industry, became a veterinarian, joined Alpharma as a technical services manager, and earlier this year achieved the personal goal of climbing to the top of Mt. Everest. “If you believe, you can achieve,” Lance says.

Find out more about the Reach Teach and Learn program, which features an essay and video contest for different age level students, at reachteachlearn.com.

Listen to or download my interview with Lance here.