Imbler's Cant earns accolade
Imbler High School agriculture science teacher J.D. Cant has been named the 2008 NAAE Outstanding Young Member of a 10-state region by the National Association of Agricultural Educators.
Having won the same award at the state level earlier this year, Cant, who is also an FFA adviser, was competing in the Region I category, which includes Washington, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska and Hawaii.
The honor is granted to ag instructors “who have been teaching no more than six years and who have demonstrated significant progress toward establishing a successful agriculture education program,” according to an NAAE press release announcing Cant’s earlier recognition.
Cant said he was surprised at the announcement of his regional award. “I got a call from our state leadership before I heard anything,” he said.
He will attend the national conference in Charlotte, N.C., in December, along with his wife, Audrey, a kindergarten teacher at Imbler, and their young daughter, Jayda.
Cant went to last year’s NAAE conference in Las Vegas, and said he learned much from the many professional development workshops scheduled during the gathering.
His teaching philosophy centers around threading the fundamentals of agriculture into broader professional, societal and philosophical ideas.
“I know not all of my students are going to go into agriculture as a profession,” he said. “But bottom line, they’re going to have a grounded impression of how it works.”
Agriculture, after all, still comprises part of the foundation of any civilization — so a solid understanding of its dynamics is crucial.
“And if you neglect it, your society will not flourish,” Cant said.
Both in his classroom and his FFA activities, Cant stresses leadership and personal development.
“I really work on their development of character,” he said.
By incorporating an assessment program called Life Knowledge, Cant can track his students’ understanding of a variety of big concepts throughout their high school career.
“That’s what I love about the ag program,” he said. “You don’t just teach one level.”
And he learns alongside his students, figuring out what curriculum works and what doesn’t.
“There are good days and then there are bad days,” he said with a chuckle.