Engaging students in an SAE can be an intimidating prospect.  However, there are some tried– and-true techniques teachers have found to help their classes understand the process, and the value, of creating an excellent SAE.

1. Teach SAE. 

Present SAE to students—more than once!  Emphasize the hands-on experiences they can gather, the chance to try out new things, to explore careers, and to put their new skills into action.  Guide them through the process of developing a quality SAE, and assist them in starting and maintaining their records.

2. Present great examples.

There is nothing more convincing to a student than another student.  Showcase great projects past and present.  Have older students help explain the SAE process to younger.  Assist students in exploring how previous students’ projects have benefitted the school, the community, or the world.

3. Make recordkeeping compelling.

Yes, there is paperwork involved.  But students can choose to record their experiences through journaling, video, online blogs, articles in the student newspaper, or photographs.  Offer a variety of methods for student reflection and record-keeping.  Reflection is vital to SAE success; it solidifies learning, and helps teachers assess student progress throughout their SAE experience.

4. Share experiences.

Assist students in finding student advisors, community mentors, and SAE employers.  Help your students communicate their experiences with one another through presentations, SAE get-togethers, displays, and other forms of recognition.  Keep your school administrator updated with your SAE projects.

5. Acknowledge great projects.

Every student, no matter where they are in the experience, should have the chance to review their work and celebrate their accomplishments.  Experiences that don’t win national recognition may still have great impacts on your class, FFA chapter, school, or community.  Let everyone know when your students excel!

6. Seek community support.

Whether it’s your FFA chapter celebrating proficiency awards and degree applications, the PTA acknowledging agriculture projects, or a school celebration for the community, seeking support can help you make the SAE a rewarding experience for students, their parents, potential mentors and advisors.

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