Rufus Stimson

It was my pleasure to participate in a ZOOM workshop for agricultural education teachers today for Mt. Olive University. I spoke about the impact that Rufus Stimson, one of the pioneer leaders in agricultural education, made on agricultural education. He was responsible for the project method of teaching, introduced task analysis for curriculum development, promoted adult education in agriculture, advocated for advisory committees, and fought to get girls in the FFA in the 1930s. He also wrote several seminal books in agricultural education.

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Circuit Rider Preachers: True Stories

In April I enjoyed speaking at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at North Carolina State University. I discussed the life of the circuit rider preacher and then shared true stories gleaned from the journals the preachers kept and newspaper articles. Many were funny but some were sad. One circuit rider preacher was lynched in Fort Worth, Texas during the 1850s because he opposed slavery. I was surprised when one member of the audience admitted she had never heard of a circuit rider preacher. I will return to OLLI in September to teach about Boy’s Corn Clubs and Girl’s Tomato Clubs.

Circuit Rider – Image from the General Commission on Archives and History for the United Methodist Church, Drew University.
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Booker T.

In recognition of Black History Month it was my pleasure to speak to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Raleigh last week on the topic “Booker T. Washington: Savior of His Race or Traitor?” We had a great discussion and the audience argued for and against the question posed in the title of the presentation.

I used electronic responders to engage the audience on a quiz about the life of Mr. Washington as we traveled through the PowerPoint slides. I wouldn’t call the slide below a trick question but 2/3 of the audience missed it. George Washington Carver was the scientist at Tuskegee recognized for his peanut research, not Booker T. Washington.

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Indiana in January??

I will have to admit I was a little leery about accepting a speaking invitation in Indiana in January. After surviving six Indiana winters from 1976-1982 when I was a faculty member at Purdue University, I had an idea about what the weather could be like. However, the opportunity to speak with agriculture teachers and students about managing priorities in life and developing leadership skills won out.

I thoroughly enjoyed speaking at the 10th Annual FFA Leadership Summit sponsored by Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana this past Thursday. The audience was receptive and the weather was not that cold, but was foggy.

I took a side trip to Syracuse, Indiana to learn more about Chautauqua Wawasee. This is a relatively new Chautauqua. While make this trip I passed a large herd of children’s’ rocking horses. Luckily I was not caught in the stampede.

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Getting REAL

It was a pleasure discussing priority management with the North Carolina State University REAL (Rurally Engaged Agricultural Leaders) last week. Most people might say the topic was about time management but we can’t really manage time. However, we can identify and establish priorities for our lives and careers and then make decisions as to how to spend our time based on this information.

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It is nice to take a deep breath! I made four (or 5) presentations last week depending upon how you count them. The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) along with the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) meet in Phoenix, Arizona. The presentations were:

  • Bitter or Better: Eight Steps to Becoming a Resilient Teacher – Dr. Wendy Warner and I teamed up for this presentation to the NAAE.
  • “C” You at the Top – Lessons in leadership, presented to both the NAAE and ACTE.
  • I Hated Small Group Work Until… – presented to ACTE.
  • On Your Deathbed Will You Wished You Had Trained on More CDE Team? – Presented to the NAAE.

After the conference I spent three days exploring Arizona. I visited Native American ruins, national parks and monuments, a copper mine, and Tombstone. Since I often speak about outhouses it was interesting to see the sanitation device that replaces outhouses in the copper mine (see below). Another whew!

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They Laughed and Laughed

It is always fun to speak to the Pamlico County Historical Association in Grantsboro, NC. Last night I spoke about the History and Evolution of the Outhouse. The audience was comprised primarily of senior citizens who had grown up in this very rural county in North Carolina. Thus, they were well acquainted with the subject matter. At the end of the presentation I asked the audience to share true stories of their experiences with outhouses. Some of the stories were hilariously funny.

I made the same presentation last week to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at North Carolina State University and received the same reaction.

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150 Years of the Grange

I was honored to be invited to speak at the 150th Anniversary of the Grange in Pennsylvania. If you don’t know about the Grange it is rural oriented organization started soon after the Civil War in an attempt to improve the plights of farmers and reunify the country after the war. Washington State and Pennsylvania have the largest number of Granges. I made two presentations. I was the keynoter at the banquet and assumed the role of the Wizard of Oz. My main points were:

  • We are not in Kansas anymore – the world has changed, has the Grange changed?
  • The Scarecrow wanted a brain, if the Grange had a brain what would we be doing?
  • The Cowardly Lion needed courage, what does the Grange need the courage to do?
  • The Tinman wanted a heart, how does the Grange show it has a heart?
  • There is no magical Wizard of Oz, so each member of the Grange will need to assume that role!

The next morning I assumed the role of Oliver Hudson Kelley, the founder of the Grange and described whey the Grange was needed then, and why it is needed now.

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Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

This past week I defied the message in Thomas Wolfe’s novel, You Can’t Go Home Again. I did go home – to Lampasas, Texas to speak at the annual Lampasas County Farm Bureau Convention. I grew up in Lampasas and graduated from Lampasas High School. So it was a thrill and honor to be asked to return home to speak to the Farm Bureau. I enjoyed visiting with people I knew 50 years ago and meeting new friends. My presentation was “Myths and Misconceptions About Modern Agriculture: Insights from the Wizard of Oz.” Of course I was dressed as the Wizard of Oz.

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The Plight of Japanese American Farmers

In baseball the fourth player in the batting order is known as the cleanup hitter. So I like to think since I was the fourth speaker at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at North Carolina State University yesterday that made me the cleanup speaker.

I enjoyed speaking about the plight of Japanese American farmers during World War II. One thing about speaking to a group of educated older adults is they are not afraid to ask questions. Perhaps the best question was were the Japanese in Hawaii put in internment camps during WWII? The answer was no because about half the population of Hawaii was Japanese so logistically it would have been a daunting task.

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