According to the US Department of Education, students who complete career and technical (CTE) courses while in high school obtain higher median annual earnings than students that do not.
“AG students are going to be much higher in continuing with their education than other fields,” says Jimmy Crosby, “because the AG teacher will emphasize that if you don’t have a college degree and you work in agriculture, you get to shovel fecal matter.”
Jimmy Crosby is the new AG teacher at Globe High School (GHS). He has 125 students which is 25% of the GHS student body. A diverse population – from the traditional cowboy to the student who doesn’t know why they are here.
“Participation in FFA allows every student to achieve their goals or dreams,” says Jimmy Crosby. “You can’t be in FFA and not progress.”
FFA began in 1928 with the idea of teaching leadership skills through rural America. It is the longest-running, most popular youth leadership training program in the United States.
“Most youngsters like animals,” says Jimmy. “If they like animals you can get them to progress that way.”
CAREER EXPLORATION & COMPETITION“FFA has lots of curriculum options,” says Jimmy. “Agriculture is such a diverse field.”
His favorites? Animal and plant sciences. Born and raised in Arizona, Jimmy’s family owned a landscaping business in the valley when he was born. By 3 he was on a ranch with 350 head of cattle. Prior to teaching, Jimmy was self-employed in agriculture. He’s done ranching and farming, retail sales, and biological products sales (sold semen to dairies). For the past 12 years, he’s been teaching the FFA program in Snowflake, Round Valley, and Texhoma OK.
“I like helping youngsters learn.”
4H is a natural precursor to the FAA program and Jimmy says local 4H leaders have been doing a great job.
“If they’ve been in 4H and learned those basics, then it’s a lot easier to stair-step on top of that and get them to a college education level,” he says.
The FFA agricultural science education program is built on three core areas — classroom/laboratory instruction supervised agricultural experience (SAE) programs and FFA student organization activities.
AG students choose an SAE to explore an area of interest. Currently, he has a student working at a tractor supply, four are doing landscaping work; one is raising citrus in their yard.
“Anything in terms of food or fiber can be an SAE,” says Jimmy.
FFA holds career development events where students can compete in many categories of agricultural interests from traditional Livestock Judging to Ag Business, Ag Sales, Agronomy, Aquaculture, Forestry, Horse Evaluation, Nursery/Landscape, Job Interview, Livestock Evaluation, Meats Evaluation, Range Management, Entomology, Soils, Agricultural Mechanics, Dairy Evaluation, Floriculture, Food Science, Milk Quality and Products, Poultry Evaluation and Veterinary Science.
“I look at students as what they can become,” says Jimmy, “so my expectations are very high and I push students to achieve those expectations.”
In Round Valley, half of his 70 students competed with 7 out of 8 teams scoring in the top 5.
“We’re going to do that in Globe as well,” Jimmy says with confidence.
GHS takes the top four students (and sometimes a substitute) in each event. This year the 2-day Spring Conference will be held in Tucson at the University of Arizona in February 2022.
Indoor & Outdoor Learning
Jimmy Crosby’s desk is buried in paperwork, which is not his forte. His plan for the AG program at GHS expands largely outdoors and he says the administration has been receptive to his ideas. A key component of his AG program vision is the creation of a “Land Lab” on a piece of property near the old stockyard on Walliman Road, currently home to a mobile classroom. Negotiations to procure the property are underway.
“We’ll have 2-5 sows giving birth to piglets twice a year,” he says. “We can have 4-5 nannies and 4-5 ewes so the kids can raise some lambs and goats.”
He envisions a poultry area for children who want to raise turkeys and chicken. Horse events in the arena. He’d like to build a set of pens with the folks who own the stockyards now so that people can bring in range cattle and students can learn how to process them. In the meantime, he’ll throw some hay into the empty pens outside the FFA building on campus and let his students raise chickens.
“Animals have a way of letting youngsters work and express themselves in a positive way,” says Jimmy Crosby. “A lot less emotional issues for children if they’re raising animals.”
Jimmy anticipates the new facilities could be functional by March 2022. and that the expanded program will require two teachers. He also expects to donate 300 hours of labor, which he says is not unique amongst Ag teachers.
“They also promised me we could build a greenhouse,” he adds with a smile, “over there near the JROTC building,”
In the classroom, Jimmy uses an online textbook which he’s been using for a decade. Everything is online and aligned with state and federal standards with links for students to go further in a direction they want to learn. Although few students in the FFA program will pursue careers in productive agriculture, the education they receive is applicable.
“There isn’t a single industry in the world that doesn’t use the same business concepts that agriculture uses,” says Jimmy. “If they are learning AG business or AG management, those skills will transfer to any industry.”
According to Jimmy, the common factor for students who earn their state degree in agriculture is internal motivation.
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” he says.
A traveler, Patti Daley came to Globe in 2016 to face the heat, follow love, and find desert treasure. She writes in many formats and records travel scraps and other musings at daleywriting.com.