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CALS Alumna Highlight: Farrah Johnson

As a 7th grade student Farrah Johnson earned her spot on the FFA parliamentary procedure team over two older students. This sparked her interest in FFA and agricultural education. Soon after, she decided she wanted to be an agricultural educator, a dream and goal she followed through with as a 1999 graduate of the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Department of Agricultural Education and Communication and a current agricultural educator at Deltona High School.

Was there a particular CALS faculty/staff or mentor that was influential in your career path?

Tracy Hoover, Matt Baker and Rick Rudd were instrumental in helping me reach my career goals. They were constantly challenging me, encouraging me, and providing opportunities for me to grow and learn. Dr. Rudd allowed me to assist with teaching parliamentary procedure in one of his classes as an undergraduate. Dr. Hoover and Dr. Baker both chaperoned trips to National FFA Convention and a regional conference which allowed us to meet other agricultural education majors from other universities.

What do you find to be the coolest/best part of your job/career?

I truly believe that agriculture teachers help shape the lives of students. I get to share different aspects of the agricultural field with my students and help them explore their own path. Although not all students will go into agriculture, I truly believe the life skills we discuss and explore will help all students be successful. It is so cool to see students mature, grow up and be successful. I have been invited to many weddings and baby showers of former students over the years!

What are some exciting projects you have worked on in the course of your career?

One exciting project I worked on in the course of my career was a grant project in food science between Cornell, UC Davis and the University of Florida. This sparked my love of food science and led me to change the curriculum in my program to be more focused on this subject. We were also able to travel to New York where I saw Niagara Falls and California where I saw the redwood forest. Last year, I was able to do a 2-week CASE curriculum professional development experience in Washington. I have had the opportunity to be involved with the Florida Association of Agricultural Educators (FAAE) and served as president of the National Association of Agriculture Educators (NAAE). Our FFA chapter was selected as a Model of Excellence for our community activities.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in the same major/career path as you?

Do it! Although the hours are sometimes long, it is a really rewarding career path. I can honestly say I have colleagues around the country, probably in almost every state. It is so important to get involved with professional organizations so you can meet the other agriculture teachers around the state and build up your own network of professionals. I am in my 20th year in this profession! There are so many interesting ways to incorporate your interests into your classroom and program.

“Agricultural Education is a tight-knit family. We are competitive, but cheer on others and most agriculture teachers are willing to help you out if you ask.” – Farrah Johnson

The Department of Agricultural Education and Communication develops leaders, educators and communicators to meet the challenges society is facing in the agricultural and natural resource industries. The department offers programs for both undergraduate and graduate degrees in agricultural education and communication, with specializations involving agricultural communication, agricultural education, extension education and leadership development. At the undergraduate level, AEC programs are offered both in Gainesville and Plant City, Florida. Find a CALS major that suits your interests by taking our majors quiz. You can also find information regarding our undergraduate and graduate programs on our website. Questions for Farrah Johnson about her experiences in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication should be directed to fljohnso@volusia.k12.fl.us

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