Hi, I’m Emily.
I grew up with 2 brothers and a sister in a subdivision in Lithia, Florida. No one in my family had ever been involved in agriculture. My grandma had property and horses and a garden but that was about it. My sophomore year of high school I signed up for an ag class and thought I would go just try it out.
I did 3 FFA contests, ran for an officer position and showed a cow. Next year it only escalated. 4 contests, coached one of them, won a state title in another, 2 cows, and ran for 2 officer positions at school and for the county. Senior year was the same way and I loved every minute of it. Beyond just the FFA stuff I got involved in some pageants and was the Junior Beef Ambassador for Florida one year.
I’m not trying to brag about myself just trying to explain my passion for the agriculture industry and how those years influenced who I am and why I plan on becoming an ag teacher.
All throughout high school I planned on being a vet until I started college. All my friends from school said I was going to be an Ag teacher but I told them there was no way. So, there I was taking classes and no plan for my future only knowing that I wanted to have a job in the agricultural field. It wasn’t until I was volunteering with a program called Ag Venture and teaching third graders about dairy cows that I knew I wanted to teach.
Watching the faces of these kids light up as they learned from me and told me about all the other things they learned about agriculture that day motivated me to pursue a career that would let me do this for the rest of my life.
One thing that has been an issue for years is how much the people who are educating our children are getting paid. Now, teachers are fed up and they are taking a stand. All across America, teachers are staging walk outs to protest their low salaries. Mainly Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona. However, even in our own county teachers are dealing with low wages and unkept promises of bonuses.
The Newsy video for my paper is very short so I’m going to look up some statistics on wages in different states vs cost of living in those states as well as interview teachers in Hillsborough County to get information on what our own teachers have to deal with.
As someone who’s never heard of the Newsy website and doesn’t really read the news very often I wasn’t very interested to be completely honest. However, after looking at it in class today I was a little more interested. I looked through the website and I though it was really cool that they had such a wide variety of subjects to look through. Everything from politics to culture. They post a video and then a little article after which I really enjoyed. They also posted links to websites where they got their statistics from if they included any in their articles. One that we went over that was cool discussed the war that’s going on that involves cyber attacks and I thought that was interesting. They just gave the introduction for a longer documentary but it really interested me.
For my photojournalism project I had so much fun. I spent a day travelling to some of the coolest springs in Florida (in my opinion). I got to find some neat places to visit when its warmer because it was 65 degrees the day I went which sucked. Anyways, this picture is just one from the three but it was definitely my favorite. In case you want to check some out my personal favorites we’re Gilchrest Blue Springs, Rainbow Springs, and Manatee Springs.
As someone who didn’t know what hyperlocal news was, I had to read the article “Why can’t anyone make money in hyperlocal news?”. It gave a brief discussion of what hyperlocal news is and then discussed why it is a dying industry. The first hyperlocal news site I visited was https://scaddistrict.com/ and while I was expecting a page that looked like the front page of a newspaper what I got was something very different. The site looked very much like a blog site instead of a news site. The next one I looked at was http://uptownmessenger.com/ which instead of looking like a news site looked very much like a normal website. Lastly, I looked at http://midwayky.blogspot.com/ which essentially was a blog site. They all shared current events that were going on in their community and were all made to appeal to the different places which they were for. The student site was designed with a younger appeal, the uptown site looked very modern and the midway displayed a simple logo with rolling hills and horses to appeal to their readers.
One of my biggest dreams is to travel and see different state parks like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. However, I’m lucky enough to live in a state with several beautiful places close by. I always wanted to go and visit the different springs but never got around to doing so.
My idea for the photojournalism project I was assigned for one of my classes is to visit several places in Florida with beautiful natural water features. I love water and in the summer I try to go to the beach as often as possible. I really want to go beyond just the overcrowded beaches and find some new cool places to spend my free time.
Not only will it get my project done, it will give me the opportunity to accomplish something I have wanted to for a long time now. So instead of binge watching Law & Order SVU all spring break, I’ll get out and explore my home state a little bit more.
Yet again, it’s time for the Florida State Fair. For the last few years I spent so much time there showing cows and this year I decided I missed it and wanted to see if I could give back in any way. I figured I would volunteer with doing animal check-ins or something but no. They decided to pair me up with Valerie Ansell to come up with a new program. They already had a vision and a plan but Valerie told me she needed a right hand. I agreed and in only two weeks we brought to life an Interactive Agricultural Experience for 3-7 year olds. We thought it was so unique because there aren’t many programs for kids in this age group to experience agriculture so we were very excited. Not to mention everything about our exhibit is so small and cute. We are there every day until the fair is over from open to 6 p.m. so be sure to come see us!
It’s 2 a.m. and below freezing in Plant City as Stevie Mathis watches over his crops encased in ice. He’s been up since the sun went down preparing his families strawberry fields for the nights freeze. The second-generation farmer gave us an inside look at what it’s like for him and lots of others in the winter strawberry capital of the world when the temperatures drop, and why these weather changes might not be all bad.
From what Stevie tells us, the preparation starts well before the freezing temperatures set in. While closely monitoring the weather they go around their numerous fields and ensure all of their diesel powered water pumps are full of fuel and oil, and are properly greased and warmed up. They send out their workers to make sure all of the rainbirds, or overhead sprinklers, are clean and ready to go. They then switch their irrigation system from drip to overhead and ensure the ditches are cleaned out so they drain properly. However, when it’s expected to freeze for two to three nights they will cover their plants with frost cloth instead of running their sprinklers.
How does it work? Stevie described this process of running water as “kind of like building an igloo”. They wait throughout the night closely monitoring their fields and warming their motors at 1000 RPM’s. Once they see frost build up on their berry plants they put the power unit in gear and begin to build up the ice barrier that protects it from frost damage.
When asked about the negatives Stevie said, “first of all it sucks staying up all night in freezing temperatures.” He also explained that running too much water can harm the berries and cost a lot of money. However, there are some positive effects. The cold slows down berry production which in turn, raises market prices. This is especially good during peak season. In addition to market value, the quality increases too. Cold temperatures help to sweeten and increase the size of the berries. The cold is also a great way to kill fungi and insects, naturally.
When asked why he chooses to farm Stevie told us, “I grew up helping my Dad with it, it’s all I know.”