For a lot of middle and high school kids, talking to a reporter is like talking to the police.
They’re guarded and on their toes. They don’t really know what you want from them, so instead they’ll just give you really short answers and sheepishly giggle.
You get the idea.
And then there are the Alexis. Interviewing is no big deal for Alexis, a student at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHSAS). She’s been in FFA for four years and honed her speaking skills through the prepared public speaking CDE.
I interviewed Alexis and another CHSAS student for my story on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s address at national convention. They blew me away. They were poised and their responses were candid.
I know there are many outstanding leaders in FFA, but I can’t help but think that the education CHSAS offers these students is something more than a typical public education.
For one, it’s the only agricultural school in Chicago. Many of the students, like Alexis, had no idea what agriculture was before going to CHSAS. She says it’s a really alarming sight, driving on the south side of Chicago and all of a sudden seeing a farm.
“You drive past it and you look and you’re like ‘Wow, that’s amazing!’ Literally, parents think that all the time,” she said.
Alexis said it was the hands-on nature of the school that sealed the deal. And her parents, both teachers, knew that it wasn’t just agricultural knowledge she’d be receiving. Through involvement in FFA, she’d receive leadership training, too.
So when urban kids like Alexis come to national convention and interact with farm kids, is it easy to make friends? Alexis said they haven’t had the same experiences as farm kids, but the “FFA bond” prevails.
“It’s a little hard at first, but when you meet somebody and you’re nice, you can get right on past that. The FFA spirit is always there.”
That got me thinking. If some urban students are just as excited about agriculture as rural students, maybe we just need to give all students the opportunity to explore agriculture, if they choose to. Should there be an agricultural science high school like CHSAS in every city? Please take my poll below and tell me what you think!
And speaking of agricultural education, this happens to be the first week for #AgEduChat. This Twitter dialogue will take place on Sunday from 7-8 pm EST. The first topic will be the struggles of beginning teachers. If you have questions you’d like to submit, you can direct message them to @AgEduChat. And thanks to @DrewBender and @sollmana for starting #AgEduChat!