AUSTIN – The Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas (VATAT) elected new leadership during the Professional Development Conference for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Cluster held July 29 – Aug. 2, 2013, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Russell Thomas, agricultural science teacher at Gilmer High School, was elected to serve as the Chairman of the Texas FFA Association Board of Directors for the 2013-14 school year. Thomas received a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in education from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Throughout his 23-year teaching career, Thomas has served as VATAT president, vice president and secretary/treasurer, as well as the Chairman of the Animal Industries Committee. He was also named Outstanding Agricultural Science Teacher in 2006 and received the Upshur County Soil and Water District Teacher of the Year Award.
In addition to his positions with VATAT and FFA, Thomas is also a member of the Yamboree Livestock Committee and New Beginnings Baptist Church.
As the chairman, Thomas plans to continue serving the agricultural teachers of Texas by providing communication between them and the Texas legislature and helping prepare teachers to be their best in the classroom.
“The VATAT Board of Directors and VATAT Officers are comprised of agriculture science teachers who give freely of themselves without compensation to make sure the Association and agricultural education continues to be successful,” said Barney McClure, executive director of VATAT.
Agricultural science teachers spent the week attending professional development workshops, training classes and general sessions with motivational speakers to enhance their current teaching methods and keep up with the latest curriculum developments in agricultural education and technology.
Teachers who attended the VATAT Professional Development Conference earned Continuing Professional Education (CPE) hours towards their teaching certificate. Teachers in Texas are required to earn 150 CPE clock hours every five years in order to keep their teaching certificate current.
More than 1,600 agricultural science teachers in Texas are impacting more than 125,000 students enrolled in agricultural education classes at the secondary level. The VATAT is a professional organization for agricultural science teachers and supporters of agricultural science. The Association informs agriculture teachers about the latest agricultural education practices, encourages higher standards of teaching agriculture and provides agriculture education a unified voice in the state legislature. Celebrating 73 years, the VATAT is headquartered in Austin, and its mission is preparing educators to develop 21st Century leaders in agriculture through excellence in education, citizenship and cooperation. For more information about the VATAT, visit www.vatat.org.