1.  Brainstorm ideas:  Review 2000 SAE Best Practice Guide.  List as many SAEs as you can think of; do this individually or with a group. Share ideas among classes and teachers. Ask past students to recall successful projects and methods.  What types of projects have you heard about?  What student projects do you really admire? 

Be creative when you are brainstorming – write down any idea you have,  whether it is practical or not, or whether you know someome else who is doing the same thing.  Do you like computers or communications?   Think about how you could use blogging, podcasting, or other media methods to showcase what you are learning.  Are you artistic?  Think about ways you can use your talents to design gardens, create activities, or show your animals.  Think of ways you can use your personal strengths to create a great project that will benefit your family, your community, your employer, or change the world.   

2.  Choose an SAE:  Now that you have a long list of ideas, it is time to think about the practical details.  Do you know someone who could supervise this SAE? You will need to find a mentor – whether this is a farmer, business owner, or even your teacher depends on what ideas you develop.  Do you have access to equipment & the space you will need? Is this topic interesting to the student?  Begin narrowing down your list by talking to your teacher, parents, and your mentors to see what they reccomend.  In the end, pick an SAE you think you will love.  Great projects grow out of a combination of interest AND hard work!

3.  Write up your goals:  Now it is time to decide what you want to learn.  You might already have a good idea from brainstorming and talking to people about what you will get out of your SAE experience – now it’s time to write it all out.  Why is this topic interesting to you? What do you expect to learn or accomplish through having this SAE?  Understand that your SAE will change over time -  goals will change as you grow and learn.  For now, create a quick outline.

Application Help & Tips  Supervised Agricultural Experience Application Information (National FFA Video)

4.  Research the SAE:  Before you begin, dig a little deeper into how you can make your SAE amazing.  Make a list of the people you need to talk to, and the equipment you will need to make it happen. Does this SAE need start-up money or materials?  You might already know a lot about your SAE topic.  If not, try to do some background reading, or watch videos on your project topic.  This will help you to understand what you need to be successful, and give you a little bit of background before you begin.

5.  Reflect:  To get the most out of your SAE experience (and to develop the foundation for a successful award application) you should reflect on what you are learning on your SAE project.  Write frequently about what you are doing.  Keep track of your accomplishments and discoveries.  Take pictures of your project, and have other students, your teacher, or parent take pictures or video of you working on your project.  These photos and journal entries will help you create a record of your experience, and will be vital references as you prepare for an Empire Degree application, SAE presentation, or even classroom project presentations.

6.  Assess SAE:  Review SAE frequently with other students, parents, and mentors and provide feedback about: how the experience could be improved, questions the student has for their mentor, what new skills should be explored, how to keep better records, how to record successes, how to share the SAE with the community, how to share the SAE with schoolmates and other students.

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