by Benjamin C. Nelson

(MACON, MO) Kaytlyn Chinn has been hired as the new Agriculture Teacher within the Macon R-1 Public School System. Chinn is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR) - graduating with an Agriculture Education Degree in May of 2019. Going into college, Chinn stated that she had a lot to learn in regards to plant science, but it was one of the most interesting aspects of her college experience. "I had a lot to learn about plant science and I feel that my classes in the plant science department at Mizzou were really great in improving my knowledge in that area. With floral design, I love being creative and have always like flowers, making me really enjoy these classes at Mizzou, and also learning skills that I can use in my classroom too."

Besides being a graduate of Mizzou, Ms. Chinn also graduated from the Shelby County R-lV Public School System in 2015. At South Shelby, Chinn was involved in a lot including the National FFA Organization. "I grew up in Clarence and Shelbina, Missouri and graduated from South Shelby High School in 2015. During my time at South Shelby, I was very involved in FFA where I served as an officer for 2 years and attended many events such as WLC, FFA Camp, and National and State FFA Conventions. I was also involved in several other organizations such as FCCLA where I served as an officer for 2 years, National Honor Society where I served as an officer for 1 year, and I also played softball for 4 years," stated Chinn. She credits being involved in the FFA during her high school years as playing a fundamental role in establishing her interest in furthering her degree in Agriculture Education and ultimately becoming an instructor, "I chose to pursue a degree in Agriculture Education largely due to my time in FFA during high school. FFA was always my favorite organization and I learned many skills in the organization that I wouldn’t have elsewhere." Within South Shelby FFA, Chinn also credits her Agriculture Instructor Tim Larrick as being someone in which she looked up to while crediting him with where she is at today. Ms. Chinn expects to continue reaching out to him for advice even well into her professional career, "He always pushed me to do my best and to try new things. I learned a lot from him in my four years in FFA, and still am even today. He is part of the reason that I decided to become an agriculture teacher and I will always be thankful for that." Tim Larrick is still the Agriculture Instructor at South Shelby.

Within the classroom, Ag. Instructors will teach a variety of topics and classes including Communications, Agriculture Marketing and Business, preliminary and introductory classes on Electrical Wiring, Welding, Mechanics, and Woodworking, Plant Science, Animal Science, etc. "I feel that one of my biggest strengths of an Ag. Teacher in terms of content in the classroom is animal science. I grew up with a strong animal science background and that really just comes first nature to me, and I also really enjoy it. In terms of FFA, I would say that one of my specialties would be contest teams. Throughout my time in high school in FFA, I competed on a contest team every year and that helped me to gain a wide variety of knowledge of different contest teams. I trained a Meat Evaluation team during my time student teaching at the Ashland FFA chapter which competed at the state level. I come from a very competitive CDE and LDE background and really want to continue that here at Macon."

On top of instruction within the classroom, Ms. Chinn will also serve as an FFA Advisor to the Macon FFA Chapter. The National FFA Organization being one of the biggest youth organizations in America (spanning from Maine to Hawaii and Alaska to The Virgin Islands) offers many different opportunities for youth including Career Development Events (CDEs) and Leadership Development Events (LDEs) - CDEs include Horse Judging, Meat Judging, Poultry Judging, Floriculture, Ag Mechanics, Dairy Production, etc. LDEs include Public Speaking, Creed Speaking, Job Interview, Ag Sales, Parliamentary Procedure, etc. Besides competitions, students (FFA Members) also have opportunities to travel to a wide range of conventions including Washington Leadership Conference, National and State Convention, and FFA Camp (among others). Members can also compete for Chapter, Area, State and National Officer Positions. "FFA means leadership to me. FFA is the best organization for building young leaders and instilling values and skills in students that they can use in their lives after high school. I plan to grow the Macon FFA Chapter by encouraging leadership, hard work and dedication, encouraging student success, and all around getting kids excited about the program," stated Chinn.

Stepping into these two very dynamic positions, Ms. Chinn looks to utilize what she learned growing up on the farm in Shelby County, her experiences and knowledge gained from what she learned as an Ag. student and FFA member, and what she learned in college to help her make a difference and grown the Vocational Ag. Program at Macon R-1. "I feel that I am bringing my drive and passion to succeed to Macon R-I. I always give 110% in anything that I do, and I think that carries over to my classroom. I have a passion for agriculture and the FFA, and truly want my students to get the best education and experiences possible." stated Chinn .

In closing Ms. Chinn talked about why she came to Macon and several goals that she has for herself as a teacher and the program overall, "I came to Macon because I saw an opportunity to bring new ideas to this program. I have experienced many different aspects of the classroom and FFA in the last 8 or so years and I am excited to bring that to Macon. A short term goal that I have as an Ag teacher is to succeed in my first year teaching. There is always something to learn everywhere a person goes and in everything they do, and that is definitely true for teachers. I have learned something about teaching every day in the classroom, and so I really want to create a great classroom learning environment for my students first and foremost. A long term goal that I have as an Ag. Teacher would be to build up a program of success where the program has a great working relationship with the community and students are encouraged to always do their best. The community support is so important to an Ag program, so it is very important that the ag program be involved with and give back to the community after all the support that they give the program."

One of the goals that the Vocational Agriculture Program and the National FFA Organization both have is to address issues facing the Agriculture Industry. When asked about what the most pressing issue facing the industry is, Ms. Chinn stated, "I feel like one of the most pressing issues in agriculture is consumer misconception of what agriculture is really about. I think there’s a lot of times when people get scared about their food source by the media, friends, or social media and they get an idea of agriculture that isn’t always correct. Bridging the gap between producers and consumers is very important in agriculture so that farmers and agriculturists can continue to feed our growing population the way that they know is best for us."

"I have always believed that agriculture education starts at the youth level because our youth truly are the future of agriculture. Instilling the education and values that agriculture and FFA promotes needs to be started early on in our student’s lives." - Kaytlyn Chinn

Kaytlyn Chinn is the niece of Chris Chinn who is Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture