Advocacy – A Way of Life
By Whitney Green
Lynita Foster didn’t plan on becoming an agricultural science teacher but said she “sort of fell into it.” Since then, she has become a force to be reckoned with, teaching at the Madisonville FFA Chapter and coaching a handful of national champion Agricultural Issues teams. With her success in this contest, one that is based on agricultural advocacy, it is no surprise that advocacy has become and integral part of her daily life.
In college, she was unsure of her path and decided she couldn’t go wrong with a teaching degree. Once she began her student teaching term, she fell in love with teaching ag and the rest is history. When asked about her inspiration for teaching, Foster told us that she focuses on her students and the potential she sees in them. Her work is all for them and she hopes that she’s making a difference and that one day they’ll go on to spread the message of agriculture.
Lynita is on a team of four agricultural science teachers at Madisonville FFA. She said that they are a very strong team with two of them focusing on shop works like welding and carpentry, one working with horticulture and Lynita herself in animal science and livestock projects. One of Ms. Foster’s most successful pursuits has been in the Agricultural Issues LDE contest. With multiple national winning ag issues teams, Lynita attributes her success as an advisor to the hard work, commitment and determination of her students. She says that while she teaches them the skills, the students are the ones that put in the work and have to perform. She also said that her overall goal is never just to win a contest. What she hopes that her students take away is more than speaking skills or facts about the agriculture industry. Ms. Foster wants her students to work hard and fully commit to their goals as well as to grow their critical thinking skills. She hopes that when her students graduate, they will be able to do research and think for themselves and not just take “facts” as truth. She said that for her it’s “more about the type of people they become.”
Another major component of the success of the Madisonville FFA Chapter as a whole is team work. Lynita told us that she is still incredibly thankful for her first teaching partners for showing her the ropes and how to work together for the good of the chapter. Now, with her current team she has done her best to continue that same cooperative spirit bringing in the school’s faculty, the community and of course the students. She told us that she wishes that more chapters would set aside the competition among themselves and work together for the students.
We talked with Ms. Foster about her opinion on agricultural advocacy and how well the FFA has been doing in that pursuit. She told us that she thinks the organization is doing very well as they have expanded their efforts in the past few years. She also is thankful for the added community service hour requirements for the organization’s degree levels. This helps to show the public that the FFA and its members do care about the community.
Lynita Foster’s advocacy philosophy is much the same as in her teaching pursuits. She says that team work is the one thing that is going to take advocacy that extra mile. So many FFA chapters are more concerned with winning titles than they are will making sure that agriculture can produce at the peak of its efficiency. She also told us that it’s the little pieces that contribute to the big picture. Each of us, taking small steps to promote the industry can add up to a changed culture, one that is more supportive of agriculture. She also told us that our advocacy must be proactive rather than reactive. We should be focused on educating the public before they hear false information. This way, they can already be aware of the truth and be on their guard.
Ms. Foster has made advocacy her way of life through teaching and living in the agricultural sphere. When asked for her final thoughts on the matter, she wanted to thank those that take on the responsibility of becoming an agricultural advocate. She applauds those that actively work to support agriculture in their day-to-day life.