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where there's smoke: A building under construction next to the Logan Police Station caught fire from a welder's spark. Damage was estimated at $50,000. / Photo by Gideon Oakes

Today's word on journalism

August 27, 2008

On protests at political conventions:

"The citizens of Denver and St. Paul, and Americans everywhere, should hope officials in those cities already have considered both the constitutional and monetary costs of silencing voices that have a right to be heard. . . . Well-expressed or wacky. Irritating or illuminating. Respectful or raucous. There's nothing in the 45 words of the First Amendment that sets out any such qualifications or limits on protests. Time and again in our history, from women's suffrage to civil rights to tax protests, to name just some, voices first raised in the streets -- to the disgust or disappointment of some -- have led to significant, positive changes in law and American life."

--Gene Policinski, executive director, First Amendment Center, 2008

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Ag education major learns at nature's open book

By Tamra Watson

May 7, 2008 | Twenty-Five Assisted Labors in Below Freezing Temperatures, Only Two Deaths reads at the top of Ty Smith's resume.

On Logan winter nights when the temperature read 12 degrees, Smith paced six sheep pens, each full of 40 ewes heavy with lambs. Any signs of heavy breathing, strain, or strong "baaa's" sounded the alarm for Smith to aid the mom in delivery.

Although the facilities are familiar to him now, Smith said the first time he stayed at the sheep farm he felt like the professor had "thrown" him out there, not really prepared for what he had to do. On his first watch, a ewe had a set of twins prematurely, and they both died.

"Death happens," Smith said. "It's just part of the agricultural life."

However, since that first night Smith has seen a total of more than 23 successful births, and as many as seven lambs born in one night, he said.

Smith's hands-on experience in things like sheep-production have earned him two job offers from Nevada school districts as a junior in college, Sarah Nutting, Smith's girlfriend said.

However, the process of becoming an agriculture education major did not only include sheep. Growing up the small town of Wells, Nev., and attending a high school with less than 150 students, Smith had many opportunities to play sports. As a freshman, he "hap-hazardly" started as the varsity catcher when an upperclassman broke his arm.

"When they told me to put the gear one, and take those pitches from all those seniors, it was pretty intimidating," Smith said. "That day I became part of the team that won three state championships, and one-runner up state championship."

However, Smith said the days of baseball we're not all glorious. During his freshman year, Smith suffered three concussions in two weeks.

"I played hard, sometimes too hard," he said. "I was pretty accident prone."

One particular day, he was playing in the outfield to "keep safe." When his coach hit a deep fly ball, Smith bolted back to catch it. Upon missing the ball, Smith slammed into a poll of the outside fence at full speed and fractured his skull. It almost took his life he said, but fortunately the doctor lived just down the street and was able to exam Smith on the field. After finding motion in one of his eyes, Smith's parents rushed him to the hospital, he said.

"They had to pull over three times to wake me up, so I wouldn't fall asleep and not wake back up," Smith said. "I guess that's the closest near death I've been." Yet, to him injury was just another part of life. When he was not playing his favorite sport of baseball, Smith was playing quarter back and linebacker on the football field. His attitude as a player was to "run over someone and knock off their head, then run around them." It was this attitude that gave Smith two broken vertebrae's in his back, a broken arm, hand, and blown out knee during his high school football career, he said.

"It was a tough road, yet through those trial and tribulations it helped me to be better, and to be more of a coach then a player. I was always there to help the younger kids to play and to throw in my advice," Smith said.

His love for teaching also grew during the summers when he worked as a ranch hand. Cottonwood Ranch is owned by his uncle, Agie Smith, and focuses mainly on beef production. It's unique because it gives "city slicker" the chance to live the western lifestyle.

"We get some idiots every time," Smith said, "when we herd cattle they come running out just a hootin' and a hollerin' and run straight down the middle of the herd, splitting it in two directions."

To make matters worse, Smith said their apparel makes them look even more ridiculous. "They come out with all these fancy shirts dotted with sequence and Conchos. One couple even came out for a weekend each wearing a pair of $4000 custom-made boots," he said.

The ranch itself helps these people transform from slicker to cowboy with a little of Smith's help. By the end of their experience the fancy apparel and make-up seem to fade away and "I got to see who they really were, instead of just what their money showed," Smith said.

In a similar manner, Smith said the National FFA organization helped him transform into his true self just like the people on the ranch. Entering high school, his skills were limited to beef cattle production and horses, however with the aid of the National FFA organization, he acquired a set of diverse skills, he said.

The theme of his high school career matched the National FFA motto that reads, "Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve."

Smith followed this phrase by competing is nine different career development events ranging from meats evaluation to parliamentary procedures. These competitions helped students like Smith apply the knowledge they learned in the classroom to real agriculture experiences, according to the National FFA Association.

Smith trained so well that he and his three-member team won at the state level and traveled to Louisville, Ky., to compete for the nation title in meats evaluation. His team received eighth place.

"The FFA gave me opportunities that I didn't get to do any other high school course," Smith said. He had the chance to travel, judge, learn by hands-on experience, and meet various people at leadership conferences and state convention.

Throughout his experience he became close to his agriculture teacher, Dan Noorda, he said. Between paint-ballin' with the guys and the weekends and coaching the students in CDEs, Smith said he recognized Noorda more of a friend then a teacher.

"He's my inspiration, the goofy cat, and yet he's the smartest person I've ever met," Smith said. "So I guess you can say with is influence, by agriculture background, and having a great experience in the FFA, I just put two and two together and decided to become an ag teacher."

Smith will continue to work towards that goal as he finishes his bachelor degree in May of 2009. With his hands-on experience in agriculture life, and the diligence he learned while playing high school sports, Smith said he hopes he's prepared to become like those who mentored him throughout the years.


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