Filled with passion to teach, engage and empower students, Ann Vote brings energy, organization and a make-it-happen attitude to Farm Camp.
PROGRAM DIRECTOR STATS
Name: Ann Vote
City of Origin: Mankato, MN
Current City: New Ulm, MN
Education: Minnesota State University, Mankato; B.S. Social Studies Education
Related Career Experience:
Tell us about your start with Farm Camp Minnesota.
While working as a Regional Curriculum Specialist, I was invited to take a look at the newly acquired Farm Camp Minnesota format and see how we could connect the program to educators' curriculum, meet state standards and overcome previous program hurdles. It was so inspiring to take an already incredible program but make changes that supported educators' needs and increase student engagement and ag literacy at the same time. After 1 year of brainstorming, creating resources and gathering feedback, the new Farm Camp Minnesota program was born. I was so proud to be a part of that experience.
Destiny or Serendipity?
Some of you will experience a moment when you realize all of the different things you've been doing up until now, have prepared you for what you are about to do. As a former teacher, summer program director and MAITC Curriculum Specialist, this position is a perfect blend of those 3 careers I held previously. It is as if each one provided me with a different skillset that I now use daily with Farm Camp. My education experience helps with serving my main clientele and understanding the roadblocks and challenges that educators face and therefore, I'm already thinking through how to solve those problems to make Farm Camp even more accessible.
What do you love about working with educators?
Listen, teaching is tough. Balancing your time for planning, prepping, executing and evaluating day-to-day activities and units can be exhausting. This position has allowed me to fully assist educators and make their lives easier by having someone there to do the legwork when creating a new experience for their students. Educators are dreamers and have outside-the-box ideas on how to connect what they are teaching to the real world. I get to take those dreams and ideas and help make them a reality for those educators. It is truly the best when the experience comes to an end and an educator says, "I can't believe we made that happen. And it was so easy!" Those statements are music to my ears!
What do you love about working with AgHosts?
I used to believe educators were the most passionate people on the planet...but after 4 years of connecting and working with people in agriculture, there may be a tie! I love hearing each unique story from our AgHosts and the passion that each farmer and ag specialist shares when they explain what they do and why. I have learned so much! I don't come from an agriculture background so I have a lot to learn but get fueled to share the agriculture story with each conversation, connection and Farm Camp experience.
What is your favorite part of each Farm Camp experience?
Yeah, right, like I can pick just one thing...here's my top 3!
3. The Brainstorm Session
At the start of each Farm Camp, I get to meet with the educator and ask "what are you going to be teaching and what do you think would be meaningful and exciting to connect your students to?" And then, I get to go and make the magic happen! We continue to create connections with AgHosts across the state. I have the coolest job of calling up a farmer or Ag business and ask if they'd be willing to host a tour. I haven't been turned down yet! (Another example of how the passionate ag community always shows up to help increase ag literacy!)
2. The Student's Questions
I work closely with our AgHosts to create engaging presentations that meet students at their level and allow for deeper understanding of agricultural products, systems and careers. When students ask thoughtful or thought-provoking questions, it's hard not to grin ear to ear. Knowing that they are truly soaking up the information they are hearing during the Farm Camp experiences and then scaffolding it on top of what they already know...it's just magical. You can literally see the light bulbs and I get goosebumps every time!
1. The Survey Responses
Before and after each Farm Camp experience we ask a series of questions to analyze the growth in ag literacy in the students involved. The last question on the post-event survey is: Would you want to experience another Farm Camp? When I read the responses, I know how impactful, meaningful and exciting this work is. Here are two of my favorite responses:
"Yes! I found it so informative and fun. I think you can learn a lot. And I didn't know there were so many careers are in farming." -5th Grader, Redwood County
"Yes. I don't know anyone on a farm. This is the only way for me to see what it's like and to understand what farmers do." -12th Grader, Carver County
What are you excited about for this coming year?
Each phone call, Zoom conference and in-person event, I get to meet incredibly passionate individuals in education and agriculture. I love that I have the awesome opportunity to connect the two! I'm excited for all the new Farm Camps to come this year and to bridge in-classroom lessons to the field, the farm and businesses across the state. After all, Farm Camp is not just a field trip...