McKenzie teacher selected as National FFA Ambassador
Published 4:10 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2023
A McKenzie School agriscience teacher, Ryan McNaughton, has been selected to serve as the Alabama’s National Teacher Ambassador for Future Farmers of America (FFA) for the 2023-2024 school year.
As a state ambassador, McNaughton can attend the ambassador training program conference in Indianapolis, Indiana this summer, to gain skill which will expand his impact for FFA, allowing him to help teachers across Alabama.
“When I first got into teaching seven years ago, while this program existed, I wasn’t aware of it,” McNaughton said. “Knowing about it has helped me a lot. I’ve given so much into students in our school that I want to be able to impact programs in other places and help other teachers as well.”
The national ambassador program aims to answer questions and provide training related to educational resources and experiences offered by National FFA. Ambassadors are prepared to serve as the voice of the organization to teachers within their home states and to others across America.
McKenzie Principal Michael Collins said the school has a top-tier agriscience and FFA program thanks to McNaughton’s leadership.
“We are proud he is getting that recognition because he does so much day in and day out, very selflessly,” Collins said. “He’s finally being recognized for his contribution to our community.”
McNaughton noted that while McKenzie is a rural community, students don’t necessarily have access to agriscience at home. Growing up, he said he learned to love FFA and agriscience and wanted to impart that knowledge to the students he teaches.
“We have a lot of students who don’t have a family dog, livestock, or other direct connections to agriculture,” Collins said. “In my classroom, I try to make a way for students to make a connection with how agriculture impacts them.”
Collins said agriscience and FFA improve McKenzie students’ educational experience, noting that the classes are much more than “your dad’s shop class.”
“All of our Career Tech Education (CTE) programs are based on career data, teaching students what areas are open for employment and what are good jobs these days,” Collins said. “Ryan focuses heavily on forestry, environmental management, and things like that. He teaches classes in fields that are wide open for these kids to develop interest in, so they can go out and get great jobs.”
Ambassadors participate in intensive virtual training to learn about and collaborate on educational resources. Each presents multiple educational sessions and works with teachers from across the country to brainstorm and share ideas.
In Alabama, McNaughton will be recognized as a content expert, a resource of information for other teachers.
“I am the ambassador for the year,” he said. “I can provide resources if somebody wants to know about where to access lesson plans or where to find material to prepare a lesson. I can also share ideas which might be successful for them.”