Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

The Power of Student Recognition

It’s that time when things are finally winding down, and you have almost completed another successful school year. Regardless of how many years of experience, one thing is certain: it’s time to start thinking about how you can showcase the wonderful activities that have happened throughout the year. A powerful educational tool to generate powerful extrinsic (and intrinsic) motivation is purposeful, systematic and intentional student recognition. I would like to share with you an event our program facilitates with student leadership on an annual basis called “Banquet!”

Melissa Bonifas.

Conducting a school and community-wide event like a banquet is a huge undertaking that, regardless of years of experience, can potentially be a source of stress for an educator. The good news is that it does not have to be! In addition to highlighting student achievement, a banquet can be an authentic leadership laboratory where the “stress” or opportunity for growth lies with the students (guided by a thoughtful educator) in planning and conducting a great event. A successful banquet doesn’t just happen by chance; it takes weeks of planning, organizing and recruiting of your students. The goal is to put together an unforgettable evening that will showcase the achievements of your students and allow the community to see what students are learning and doing in and out of the classroom. A purposeful community event may also provide future connections with business leaders and allow students more opportunities in the future. The banquet also serves as a recruiting tool for younger siblings as they see what activities other students are receiving recognition for and someday they may want to get involved in. Our banquet has traditionally consisted of a meal, an awards ceremony and a silent auction for fundraising.

To accomplish this task, as the educator, I select and actively coach student leaders in creating a task list of the items that need to be done ahead of time. Typically, I enlist the help of my older students allowing them to select one of the critical “to do” items. The students enjoy the ownership in the event and are excited to be behind the scenes. A key aspect is aligning students’ interests and skills with their roles in the event. For example, the students who enjoy writing and proofreading work on the banquet scripts, program and advertisements, while the technology-savvy students enjoy putting together the slideshow and parent recognition segments of the evening and are in charge of all details like sound, music and lighting. An additional benefit of this approach is that when the students are “in charge,” they not only attend – but they also actively exert positive peer pressure and get other students excited about the event. The most important element is that the event is a student-led program, which is what parents and the community enjoying watching!  

A banquet may seem like a lot to put together, but you don’t have to do it alone. When you involve your students, there are only a few items you actually have to do yourself. This experience will allow for your students to prepare for a real-world situation they may encounter later in life. Basic skills such as proofreading, revising, printing, communicating with sponsors and managing time are all important attributes that will help students be successful in their future careers.

Melissa Bonifas is a DuPont Agriscience Ambassador and 17-year veteran secondary agricultural educator at Blue Hill Community Schools in Blue Hill, Nebraska.

See photos of the latest FFA banquet here: https://youtu.be/u_SgzSK5mSI.

Check out the 2015 Issue of the Agricultural Education Magazine on Public Relations here: http://www.naae.org/profdevelopment/magazine/archive_issues/Volume87/May_Jun_2015.pdf.

The following blog is part of a series intended to share experiences of U.S. agricultural educators with a global audience. For more information about the Ag Educators Corner blog series on Agrilinks, please visit: https://agrilinks.org/blog/agricultural-educators-agricultural-educators.

This blogging series on Agricultural Education is curated by the PSU Global Teach Ag! Initiative and the Innovation for Agricultural Training and Education (InnovATE) project. To learn more, visit: http://aese.psu.edu/teachag/global. Questions or ideas to collaborate? Email teachag@psu.edu.