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Linn-Mar Ag Department benefits from Talley's presence
by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · March 16th, 2017

Linn-Mar has an excellent Agricultural Science Department under the leadership of Barb Lemmer. Just when we think it can't get any better, along comes a top-rated student teacher who adds even more to the many fine student experiences. That lady's name is Megan Talley.

Talley already has a BS degree from Iowa State University. Soon she will have an MS as well. In the meantime, she is student teaching under Ms. Lemmer and the two of them are a formidable pair.

Talley initially wanted to become a veterinarian. She headed off to Iowa State University in Ames to do just that. While at ISU, she worked with the ISU Dairy Science Club and promoted the dairy industry around the community. On many occasions, she conducted tours of the Iowa State University Dairy Research Farm and made presentations to the public at different elementary schools, which she discovered she loved.

After interacting with people at ISU, Talley realized that becoming a vet was something she was no longer feeling called to do. She found out that she really likes to go out to people and share her knowledge.

She explained it this way, "I did not grow up with any agriculture experiences, and my family is a few generations removed from the farm. Because of this, I had little to no contact with information about the agriculture industry before attending college.

"Upon realizing how much information there is on how food, fiber and fuel are made, I also saw that there is disconnect with the information getting to the public. I decided that educating those in the community with a background

similar to mine would have a greater impact on those around me than being a veterinarian, and thus, I went back to school to become a certified educator."

Talley graduated with a BS degree in Dairy Science and Agriculture Communications in 2015 but wants more. So she returned to school to work on her Master's and also to get a teaching certificate (which will be for grades 7 through 12). That is how she ended up coming to Linn-Mar.

She now is teaching three classes: Principles of Agriculture -- Animals, Aquaculture Science, and Biology.

We asked Talley about her experiences while teaching. She responded that she is learning a lot and enjoying the students. She takes part in "developing the curriculum to help make the material easier for the students to understand."

She has enjoyed creating worksheets and classroom projects with her students. For instance, one day she had students bring their dogs to class. The students took the dogs' heart rates, checked respiration, and looked for healthy signs, such as a shiny coat. It was a fun learning experience.

Another time the students went to Consumer Supply Distributing Company on Highway 13, where feeds are trucked in and processed for all kinds of animals, from rabbits to horses and cattle. They learned about product safety, feed ingredients and how they are mixed in the correct proportions for specific types and ages of animals.

Talley praised FFA and its many activities. She helped prepare the students for leadership contests and went with them to Des Moines to meet legislators. She used the term LDE, which stands for leadership development events, and CDE (career development events), which help give students skills they can use in their future careers.

An example of one of these events is the job interview contest. This contest helps the students learn to write a good cover letter and resume, prepare for possible questions they might be asked, and participate in practice job interviews.

She also mentioned SAEs (Supervised Agriculture Experience). Each week the kids participate in pilot activities. Talley gives them notes and they do exploratory work in specific areas. For example, if a student wants to learn about a specific animal and their care, they may search the Internet for answers to their questions, contact an expert on the matter, or use class experiences to gain the information they need.

She told about one student whose family raises sheep. From what that student learned in class, he went home and his parents let him change the proportions for what they feed their sheep.

Talley and Ms. Lemmer mentioned that the department is also working with MEDCO (the Marion Economic Development Corporation). MEDCO is expanding beyond experiences with manufacturing companies as we might think of them, such as assembly line work. Many students now have opportunities in agriculture, such as job shadows, internships, and working part-time at some of the agri-business industries in the area.

One of Talley's challenges has been to leverage the knowledge base she acquired in college and adapt it to teaching students so she can help them meet their needs and goals for real life.

Talley will teach at Linn-Mar until the end of April, and her Master's degree will be conferred at graduation on May 4.

Talley is fortunate to be able to complete her education without any student debt. When asked how she was able to do that, she told us that she always had a job during her undergraduate years. The job she found to be the most beneficial and enjoyable was as a community advisor in her dorm. This experience allowed her to work with a diverse group of students who took advantage of living in on-campus housing at Iowa State.

And while a graduate student, Talley worked even more - she held two jobs so she would be able to graduate debt-free.

She also emphasized that her parents have always been extremely supportive. They were there to help her in any way she needed. They encouraged her in her choices along the way, especially when she realized she was interested in a number of areas in agriculture.

Interestingly, Talley still isn't sure exactly what she wants to do, although she does want to have a teaching certificate and knows she wants to interact with people. She is engaged and her fiance has teased her, saying he has offered her a job (on his farm) for three years now and that she can always work there.

We are sorry that farm isn't closer so Talley could be at Linn-Mar permanently. It's located in Illinois, across the Mississippi from Muscatine. Anyhow, she may become a biology teacher, or she says she might even go into some part of the agriculture industry, perhaps conducting research or developing learning materials and making presentations. Or she might go into dairy science and biology. At this point, the opportunities are endless.

Her experiences are so varied that Talley will be able to do almost anything she chooses. Ms. Lemmer reinforced that statement. She expressed strong praise for Talley and what she has brought to Linn-Mar. While she hates to see her leave, she is most appreciative of what Talley is contributing while she is here.
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