Children and Reading

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“Children should learn that reading is pleasure, not just something that teachers make you do in school.”

-Beverly Clearly

How I Found Oregon Agriculture

 

I grew up in a small town and the town had the long standing support of a few very prominent families who worked in forestry.  Many friends of mine had direct connections to forestry through family members. My parents were teachers and although we were raised in the country, we had no direct connection to agriculture.  We had extended family that farmed but the most significant connection we had was a distant relative was the secretary of agriculture under FDR while he was president. I have been researching this since my dad told me and I find it very interesting.  I would love to go back to that time and sit with him and ask him questions!

I was not raised in a farm family.  I grew up in a family of educators.  My father was a music teacher and although he is retired now he still shares this gift with all of those around him.  My mom had a birthday recently and he wrote her a song!!  Yes, a song!!  Who of us out there wouldn’t want their spouses to write them a song but maybe some of us giggle at this idea because we know our spouses would be awful at it…and the idea of them singing would make our ears bleed!!  But not for my dad and mom…what a beautiful moment!

My mom has loved working in education for many years, she has dealt with so much; her job has pulled her from one building to the next in Lebanon. Her job slightly changing from building to building and she is a fire cracker when the “system” isn’t working as it should.

Over the years, I have realized my parents are passionate about the children they serve, want the best for children, and somehow manage to check everything at the door when they walk into a room with all those faces looking up at them.  My parents are the definition of amazing educators.

I was asked last week why I think living on a farm is so great??  I walked away from that thinking, how am I supposed to answer such a loaded question.  There are days I love it, like it, relish in the moments I have here but I will be honestly say some days I want to escape for a few days. Do something different- head to the city or to the mountains but it doesn’t last long until I want the beauty back of the farm and the arbor of the trees cascading out my front window.

I never had spent time at farm until I moved to the hazelnut farm 11 years ago.  I had a hard time adjusting at first, it felt so isolated and lonely.  Now, I find comfort in the quiet and being able to leave my windows open all the time, and blast music and no one can hear it fore miles. The sunsets are amazing!

Over the many years, I can’t imagine any one who wouldn’t want to live on a farm.  Now the isolation is comforting, I can take a deep breath any time I want, walk anywhere I want, who wouldn’t want private access to a few different rivers, endless miles of running and walking, yes, there are always chores to be done. However, living here, family is always close, my children have endless amounts of things to do and acres to do it on, and enough shops to build anything their hearts desire.  Last week, my son built an air conditioner and resurrected a 25-year-old weed Wacker by rebuilding the carburetor…. you can ask me how; and all I can tell you is that he was in the shop for 7 hours, he walked out filthy, with the biggest smile on his face and he now has a working air conditioner and his very own working Weed-Wacker!!

The land we live on is important to our quality of life and to others.  If some fields near our fields are diseased it can travel through the wind and effect our crop.  Farming is about timing, being patient and being stewards of the land and always helping out the farm families around us.  I have learned after all these years I now can drive down any road and recognize on any hazelnut orchard which are disease and which aren’t.  I can see who takes better care of the land and crop better than others.

I often find myself rambling answers about our farm, the crop, and acres we have to anyone who asks.  Sometimes, I hear myself talking I have to smile because I in no way thought I would be this passionate and have the knowledge I do about farming and agriculture.  My sister often tells me I know all these random facts about agriculture ad farming…she often asks me; how do you know that??  I shrug and continue to answer her questions.

About a year ago I resigned from the best job I have ever had, I learned, students I taught learned, and the people I worked with were amazing.  Most of them grew up on farms.  I will always be grateful to Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation and their board of directors and staff.  I was taught so much and was able to share it in a way that was so much a part of me and the way I was raised.  I love teaching and seeing children have that “ahh, ha” moment!! I miss teaching Oregon students about agriculture in their communities and our state! It is detrimental for our students in Oregon to learn about the value of agriculture, what it means to take care of the land, and why students need to know where their food comes from.

When we look back at the decisions we have made in the past, it always seems that people claim their vision is 20/20 now, this isn’t always so for me. Working at Oregon AITC was more than a job.  It became my passion, my expertise, it gave me the access to teach students all over Oregon. Every day was inspiring in a classroom because I was inspiring students. I cannot put into words what it felt like when students had the “wow” and “ahh, ha” moments when I was teaching about agriculture.  If I had the opportunity to be involved with teaching students about Oregon Agriculture in the way I did for seven years, I would jump at the chance.

All You Need Is Twenty Seconds of Insane Courage…

Tackle football has now been added to the mix for my boys, along with 7th grade, and the amount of homework has tripled at least.

I pick my boys up every evening after practice. I have seen them for years play organized sports on many fields. The first day I saw them playing in full pads and helmets, I felt as if I was run over by a train that smashed through my chest.  I had a mom moment, if you are a mom you have had these moments.

All of a sudden my chest was heavy, I took a long deep breath in, and blinked rapidly to fight back the tears.  I wasn’t sad, upset, or frustrated—I was proud and wondered, how the hell did we get here?  WTF, they were just in diapers. And, will I be able to watch them get pummeled into the ground when someone else’s child is running full speed ahead toward either of them.

Okay, okay…I know my kids are not in the NFL but in my mind, that’s what I see…you know, the replays of the NFL tackles on game day where the feed is played in slow motion so every one can say, “damn, that was a hard hit”.  Their first game is next Wednesday and they are so excited…I am terrified! We will have to wait and see how that plays out…

I am told this is a rite of passage for kids…it kicks off their future years in sports that will carry them through until high school. I can already picture the excitement on their faces on game day.

I can still remember all of those days I had in school. I remember playing as a team and working together, what it felt like to when we won and also, when we lost.  Juggling homework, a job, and sports made me work even harder through school, it taught me how to balance my time and it forced me to be responsible to figure out what worked for me to keep all of it organized.

I know, my kids are no where near graduation day. However, each day that passes they get closer and I have to trust more that I have instilled in them what is right and what is wrong, to think about the decisions they make on a daily basis because that decision can have a positive or negative outcome (which they have to face either way). And well, for this momma I need to suck it up a bit and realize they will keep growing and nothing I do or say is going to stop that. No matter what happens next Wednesday on field, I will be one proud momma! But, every day between now and that day, I need to get my shit together because this will be the first of many games and I don’t want to be the crazy mom in the bleachers crying and cheering on the team!

 

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

                                                                                                            -Benjamin Mee

Work Hard, Play Hard

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I wake each morning in the same ritualistic way, coffee, writing, a load of laundry from the dryer to fold, kitchen needs to be tidy, and all the other repeated tasks to follow suit throughout the day.  I repeat this day in and day out. The same beginning and the same ending.  In the last years, I have been putting some of these tasks in my boys’ hands.

I know these tasks need to be done or the house will fall in shambles but can I find a way to enjoy every day tasks? It’s robotic, it’s a mental list I drudge my way through just to get them done because no one else does. They need to be done.  For some sick reason, it would drive me crazy if I just let them go. Am I the only person who feels this way?  Is it something women, mothers, and wives force ourselves to do?  Lump ourselves in this dated way of thinking that all the “home” things must be done by us because it is our duty as women?  Can I change this way of thinking in my boys as they grow?

Now, I am not attempting to know anything that other women don’t but why can’t my 12-year-old boys rinse and put their dishes in the dishwasher, after all they used them?  Why can’t my sons fold laundry or set the dinner table?  And if I have to clean my room and make my bed, why can’t they do the same in their own rooms? Heaven forbid they ever learn how to push a vacuum around. I am behind this stereotype of what men do and what women should do.  I want my children to be an example and accept to this stereotype.  I believe they will be better for it as adults.

For as much as my children, love the outdoors and would spend every waking minute outside if they could, why can’t they learn to help out inside? Last week my boys and I spread 15 yards of bark dust together with shovels and wheel barrels.  They mowed, weeded and used the tractors to help on the farm.  I do not think I am working my kids to hard, they play hard everyday although often watering turns into water fights just like last night. This is joyful to watch.

I would like to say I am guiding them to be the best little men they can be. Also, I convince myself that later on in life whoever they choose to spend their lives with will be grateful they know how to wash dishes, do laundry, and vacuum, along with all the other outside tasks we are required to do to keep our home well kept.  This is preparing them for the real world.  We work to play harder!

My children are loved, happy, and enjoy life. Even after putting in some hard hours of working by the end of it, they are always smiling and laughing when they come in the house. So, how can we possibly be working them too hard? They are full of joy, filled with life, and excited about what comes next.  What else could I ask for?

Yes! Agriculture!!!

Happy by Pharrell

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Today, I went back to a place that I haven’t been in awhile. Rather, I went back to an activity that I haven’t done in awhile. I found myself in three different classes in Turner, Oregon.  Each class was about 30 students and I found a passion ignite in me that I thought I didn’t have anymore or at least, I forgot that I had.

Side note #1: Back November 2015, after many years at the same job I painfully came to the decision that I needed to leave.  Not because I wanted too but because my children were struggling with school and had just moved to the middle school. It was a difficult transition and I knew if I didn’t leave my job I couldn’t give the amount of time and energy to what was my #1 job…being a mom. I remember the day, crying and saying, “I have to resign.”

I left something I loved doing and something I believed was important for students to know about (agriculture) because I knew I could never get this time back with my children. Years pass by so quickly with children and every day that passes, they change, and with the difficulties they were having I couldn’t possibly not leave my job.  Today, I know I made the right choice.

Yesterday, I went to the middle school and found that both of my boys were chosen by two different teachers’ for a “Teacher’s Choice” award.  They both were recognized for their smiles, positive attitudes, their drive, and they never quit when it gets tough – this made me very proud.  The assembly went on and without really paying attention I heard one of my son’s names called for Honor Roll.  I was shocked, fumbled for my camera and got one picture. This showed me I made the right choice.  Both of my sons are thriving!!

The job I left was with Oregon Agriculture in the the Classroom. I worked there for quite a few year’s and I loved it!  Still to date, my favorite job! I loved the people I worked with. I believed in the message of the program to share agriculture with students in the state of Oregon and to educate students about what agriculture means to all of us.

There all things about every job that we like more than others but for this job, it was simple. For me, it was teaching students about agriculture. I could be having a rough morning; the kind you really don’t want to get out of bed but when I walk through the door of almost every classroom I have been in I thrive! The curiosity in their eyes when they look at me gives me such a rush, I know that I will be able to teach them something they didn’t know before they arrived that morning and I know each one of them will take a piece of that information with them!! It’s a challenge. I walked in those rooms today, I knew how to present, how to grab their attention, what to talk about, and I knew they would listen.  It was awesome!!!

Side note #2: During my job interview, I couldn’t define the word “agriculture”, like at all! I couldn’t say farm, dirt, truck, tractor….and I actually requested that we come back to that question.  (Oh, the embarrassment!)

I have always had a goal to make sure I get an “ohh” and an “ahhh” out of a teacher during my presentations.  When I run out of those, I need to educate myself more. (Or at least that is what I think.) I research and I find something else, sometimes it takes a lot of digging.  Politely, I love having a teacher ask me a question I know the answer to and seeing the surprise in their faces.  This was always something I did in my job.  I wanted teachers to know without them noticing that I was one step a head. I took so much pride…. real pride, in teaching about agriculture and the importance of it when I was working!

I am confident that I am able to teach students something new but when I can teach the teacher something…that is what I want to do!! That is the good stuff – the sweet spot! I love love teaching students but when I can stump the teacher…that, is the sweet spot!

The students are amazing (not all of the time) but I know how to command the attention in the room…I’d like to say I inherited that from my father (a teacher for over 30 years).  He was an awesome teacher not because he was my dad but because now at 39, I still have people on the street ask me about my dad and what he is doing and they always, always share something about how my dad impacted their lives. Now, that is a good teacher! Who wouldn’t want to be remembered that way. I only wish that as I get older and when I perhaps pass that people talk about me the way they talk about my dad.

So, today after teacher three classes. I am honored to do it again. Monday, in fact I am lucky enough, I get to teach again. Not because it’s my job any more but because I truly love it.  I am passionate about it and it makes me see the world differently.  Seeing something through the eyes of a student or young person can change your life. I know when I am teaching about agriculture, I make an impact and I know I am good at it!

Today, I made a difference.  I taught about 90 students, three teachers, and someone peaking threw the door.