Dane White

 

  • School: Galt High School

  • Region: Central

  • Education and/or industry experience: CSU Chico, BS Agriculture Science, 2007. CSU, Chico, MS Agriculture Education, 2015. Worked in various capacities in the dairy industry and in vegetable crop production on multiple farms.

  • Years teaching ag: 8

  • Subjects you teach: Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Government, Agricultural Leadership, Agricultural Anatomy and Physiology. Next year I’ll add Agriculture and Soil Chemistry to my course roster.

  • Hobbies and interests outside of teaching: Hiking, soccer, traveling, camping, surfing, reading.

  • What do you love most about being an ag educator? I love that my job gives me a worthy reason to roll out of bed in the morning- it’s incredibly purposeful. Our multi-pronged system of teaching agriculture allows us the chance to develop, knowledge, skill and character- how many other careers can say they get to do that? I thrive on the challenge of making an ever-larger impact on young people and enjoy the chance I have to shift them in a positive direction. 

  • What is your biggest challenge as an ag educator? Sometimes I’ve had to reconcile my passion with the fact that I, as one man, can’t do it all. Pushing my limits and deepening my capabilities is a constant desire of mine as it makes me a more effective teacher and leader. Unfortunately, it sometimes means I take on more than I can realistically accomplish. However, the root of those decisions is to impact more lives and improve how our profession works. So all in all, it’s a challenge I’m glad to face down.

  • What have you learned thus far in your teaching career that you wish you would have known when you first began teaching?  The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to be patient. I am naturally a hard-driving, impatient guy who has little tolerance for slow changes. As a new teacher, that caused me to make the mistakes that come when credibility isn’t there to back up the decision-making process. I alienated people and had to work to remedy the situation I myself created. Seeds don’t become harvestable plants overnight and I have had to learn to slow down and patiently cultivate the change I wished to see in students, our program and our profession.

  • What advice would you give a novice teacher entering this profession in 2015?  My biggest piece of advice is to find a mentor. I began in the profession without one and since have learned that I would’ve been much better off had I found my mentor earlier. Last year I reached out to a teacher I respect tremendously and have since relied on him for honest advice, encouragement and a source of wisdom. The best experienced teachers have learned lessons that can help guide our decisions while we are young. I am certain I would’ve learned to be patient, for example, had I asked Mr. Koelewyn to be my mentor when I was a younger teacher. I think also as young teachers we need an example of how to manage our lives as professionals; a good mentor will do that. We need counsel on how to prioritize our time; a good mentor will do that. We need someone outside of our departments who can enable us to reflect and grow from difficult situations; a good mentor will most certainly do that.

  • What personal qualities or abilities do you think are important to being successful in this profession?  To me being an agriculture teacher is 100% about attitude, not aptitude. Obviously being a great teacher requires some alchemy, but there’s no question in my mind that magic happens when our attitudes are positive and open. Sometimes I hear teachers (I was among them at one point) issue complaints about curriculum, district pressures, life/work balance, long hours and things they don’t like to do. My attitude has become similar to the serenity prayer- let me accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can and understand the difference between the two. Our profession is demanding and can drain us to no end- but we are rescued by an attitude of service. We can encounter incredible difficulties- but an attitude of resilience will tip history in our favor. We can end up drowning with way too much to do- but an attitude of discipline will ensure it gets done. An attitude of humility ensures we learn from our peers, an attitude of thankfulness ensures we show up on Mondays ready to take on the world yet again. No question in my mind- skill won’t cut it, knowledge is helpful, but attitude will always win the day for an agriculture teacher.

  • What specific skills are important to being successful in this profession?  Be a planner. Know what you want to get done with what you have and how to prioritize. Be resourceful so you know how to use your finite resources to receive the maximum possible return. What can you accomplish with the resources at your disposal? We don’t ever have an infinite pool of time, money or community energy, so what will you do with what you have?  Time management is another. What are you seeking to accomplish with what you have? How will the results of your use of time bring honor to your students, your school and your community?  Ask for help. There are a ton of people who will help you if you ask. We are a profession of busy folk, so don’t trip if you don’t get an email back in 3 hours. Just be persistent and keep asking. Learn how to back up a trailer. If you don’t already know how, you need to learn and your first time hauling animals to the fair isn’t the right time. You’ll be overwhelmed with curriculum, lesson planning, BTSA, project visits, FFA meetings and CATA events- suddenly learning how to drive with a trailer attached isn’t that important. Learn now. (The same goes for some basics- learn how to dehorn, how to divide succulents, how to castrate and how to use a cutting torch.)

  • What most prepared you for being an agriculture educator?  I had the good fortune of being exposed to a lot of excellent teachers before beginning my tenure at Galt High School- this enabled me to develop a set of competencies and a curiosity into how the brain learns and how to align pedagogical strategies to content and to student populations. I would suggest to any pre-service teacher to get out there and SEE GOOD TEACHERS TEACH. Then ask them how they do what they do and about their decision-making processes and classroom management strategies, etc. This helped me a ton before I ever stepped foot in my own classroom and now I can expend energy on other projects because I’m not stressed about how I can accomplish my goals in my classroom.

  • Describe ag teaching in one to two words. Purpose-driven.

2015 TESTIMONIAL

Teach Ag 2020

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