Submitted by Hayden Bush
ER Jackman Board Member and Tillamook High School Ag Instructor
Agricultural education is vital to the heart of the great state of Oregon and to the entire nation. As the old saying goes, without agriculture we would be naked and hungry. Our future agriculturalists face the greatest challenge of all-time – feeding billions of people with less land and resources. Furthermore, many people are retiring from long-term non-agriculturally-based jobs and we need leaders to step up and fill those rolls as doctors, tradesmen and tradeswomen, lawyers, managers, and so many more leadership roles. This is where agricultural education in the state of Oregon shines. The Oregon FFA, which is the student leadership organization attached to Oregon high school agricultural education serves over 12,000 students state-wide. In agriculture classes and FFA, students don’t just learn about cows, plows, and sows. Today’s high school agriculture programs teach students about science, technology, engineering, math, and true soft-skill and leadership characteristics that are needed in today’s world.
It takes a village to orchestrate the workings of Oregon High School Agricultural Education and FFA, but few people have been more impactful than Mr. Gordon Galbraith. Gordon graduated from Madras High School in 1951 where he was an active member of the FFA. Gordon didn’t let graduating high school put a damper on his FFA impact, in fact, he channeled the experience to make thousands of FFA members better citizens. After marrying his wife, Joan, Gordon attended Oregon State University and served two years of service in the US Army. Following his service to the country and finishing his education at OSU, Gordon taught Agriculture from 1958 - 67 at Wy'East High School in Hood River, Oregon. He then accepted a position with the Oregon Department of Education in 1967 as a Specialist in Agricultural Education serving as the State FFA Advisor. Gordon went on to mentor thousands of Oregon FFA members over the course of 28 years.
Simply put, Gordon was a leader, a teacher and a family man dedicated to helping others. Gordon also had an outstanding sense of humor that he cultivated towards people on an individual level that demonstrated his wry brand of love and care. He was the kind of person to send cards and call on birthdays and holidays and he never stopped reaching out and helping others. True to the nature of this great man, a donation was made on his behalf to the ER Jackman Alumni and Friends, whose mission is to ultimately support research and education in the College of Agricultural Sciences at OSU. The intent is to start a scholarship to assist students interested in Agricultural Education and making an impact like Gordon did. The ER Jackman Alumni and Friends are proud to help carry on Gordons legacy and offer this scholarship. Final details are being worked out regarding this opportunity, but one thing is for sure – Gordon’s impact of agricultural education in the state of Oregon will continue to be felt for years to come.
When they received the official notice that fall 2020 classes would be entirely remote, Academy leadership had to quickly rethink how to offer a yearlong, cohort-based leadership program to 60 undergraduates via Zoom. It was important to explore new ways of connecting with the students, making them excited about the upcoming year. One way they accomplished this was by shipping an industry-sponsored welcome package to each student at the beginning of the term.
Generously sponsored by Kathy Ward, Bayer, Northwest Farm Credit Services, and Nutrien Ag Solutions, the boxes reflect the content covered for that particular term. Fall boxes included the program handbook, program culture card, a paperback copy of the term book, a few snacks, and assorted university-themed gifts (e.g., T-shirt, lip balm, notebooks, water bottles); Winter boxes included a copy of the term book, guiding booklet, accompanying bookmark, and an OSU-logo mask. This Spring, the boxes focused on celebrating graduation from the Academy, with a copy of their individually-chosen book, certificate of completion, and LEAD graduation stole.
Students were very excited to receive their boxes in the mail. Their sharing, tagging, and liking on social media expanded our outreach, making this innovation a strategy to build excitement among students and serve as a marketing, outreach, and recruitment opportunity. Examples of posts from students included, "So excited and thankful for this course! Thank you for your hard work!", "Thank you so much for the lovely welcome box! I'm so excited to be a part of the Academy!" and "I can't wait to begin!" Program stakeholders, including deans, faculty, agriculture and forestry organizations, and advisory board members, were active on social media in response to the welcome boxes' posts.
For future boxes, they plan to include personalized messages to each student with either a personalized sticker or a hand-written message from the administration team. Other ideas include creating more opportunities for sponsorships with the option to sponsor specific items in the boxes (e.g., book sponsor, swag sponsor). Additionally, they plan to expand their donor base by inviting program alumni to become welcome box sponsors (e.g., Class of 2011 sponsor).
What was created out of response to COVID-19 and the shift to remote instruction became an effective way to build excitement about a program, make students feel special, and engage industry stakeholders.
2020-21 students awards:
- OSU Outstanding Student Award: Abigail Berhorst
- EOU Outstanding Student Award: Nathaniel Odegaard
- Sean Sullivan Memorial Scholarship: Angelica Bouska, Kaitlyn Jones, Emma Combe and Mitch VanDomelen
2021-22 Ambassadors are:
- Elizabeth Hanson, Agricultural Sciences
- Savannah Moe, Agricultural Sciences
- Victoria Reynolds, Agricultural Sciences
- Deidre Schreiber, Agricultural Sciences