The Value of Membership | Michigan Farm News

The Value of Membership

Category: People

by Tony McCaul, Instructor, Agriculture and Animal Science Program, Careerline Tech Center, Holland MI

Tony McCaul talks over a lesson with students in his lab at Careerline Tech Center.

In this installment of The Value of Membership, Tony McCaul shares his thoughts on how Farm Bureau has benefited his effort at being the best he can be in his role as Instructor in the Agriculture and Animal Science Program at Careerline Tech Center in Holland, part of the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.

Farm Bureau has been a huge supporter of my program over the years. Ten years ago, I started a new Ag Tech program in Holland, Michigan, at Careerline Tech Center. From the very beginning, Farm Bureau supported my program and has provided me the resources needed to help built it to what it is today. Over the years, Michigan Farm Bureau produced several videos of my program, which has helped me promote and develop it.

Farm Bureau has supported both me and my students with the ability to attend conferences, which helps give us skills to become either a better teacher or a better individual in gaining leadership skills.

Farm Bureau has numerous opportunities for its members, and I would suggest that everyone take advantage of them. I have had the privilege to travel to Louisville, Kentucky for the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference with Michigan Farm Bureau. The conference was a great way to network and bring new resources back into the classroom.

Careerline Tech Center has more than 90 students in its ag, food service and natural resources pathway, serving close to 20 private and public schools in Ottawa and Allegan counties.

Besides giving opportunities to its members and my students, Farm Bureau has had a voice at the state level in education. It has had a large impact on my program on the state level for education by helping support chances for students to take Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, of which agriculture is one.

I have been able to increase the number of students because of changes in the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC), that has allowed students to have more choice.

Senate Bill 175 is a recent bill that will make an impact, allowing students to take my program instead of requiring two years of foreign language credits. It is important for our education system to meet the needs of our stakeholders and give the best opportunity for our students to be successful, and I believe that with the new changes in the MCC, this gives a chance for more agriculture education in our school systems.

Aquaculture is one of several areas of study covered in the ag tech program at Careerline Tech Center.

One of my current students taking advantage of changes in the MMC is Riley Rademaker, a senior from Grand Haven High School. She is in her second year at Careerline and plans on going to MSU after graduating.

“Being able to use the Careerline Tech Center as a substitute for a second year of a foreign language class is beneficial to me and other students because we have a choice to take a trade class that can help with our future,” said Riley. “There are a number of classes to take, along with long-lasting relationships that can be made by taking classes at a technology center.”

Outside the classroom, Farm Bureau has given my students the opportunity to broaden their exposure by participating in and hosting Discussion Meets, and attending its State Annual Meeting as well.

Farm Bureau hosts events year-round for all their members to build leadership skills that help them to inform the public about agriculture. Over the years, my students have been able to volunteer with Breakfast on the Farm and Farm to Food Expo, which gives them the skills to communicate with the public about Farm Bureau and about agriculture.