Beth Gaines, executive director of the Kansas FFA Foundation, experienced a change of heart her junior year of college. This occurrence was frightening at first, but allowed her to realize her true passion and started her on the track toward her current career.
“Follow your heart and your passions, they will take you where you need to go,” Gaines says.
Throughout her childhood and early college years, Gaines was solely interested in utilizing her Kansas State degree (’91) in agricultural communications and journalism for radio broadcasting.
“As a junior in college, I had an internship with a radio company and realized very quickly that was not what I wanted,” Gaines says.
Getting an opportunity to experience the reality of working in the radio industry allowed her to gain new insight and understand what to expect from a career in broadcasting. Although the internship caused her to drift from her original plan, it led her to her true passion within agricultural communications.
For Katelyn Bohnenblust, FFA has been an integral part of her life she took her first agricultural class in the eighth grade. Now, as she begins her sophomore year at Kansas State University in the agricultural education program, it is still a foundational part of her life but in a different way.
Recently, Bohnenblust was selected through a strenuous screening process to serve as a nominating committee member for the 90th National FFA Convention, which takes place at the end of October in Indianapolis, Indiana. As a nominating committee member, Bohnenblust, along with eight other committee members from across the nation, will interview 41 national officer candidates for six national officer positions over the course of 11 days.
Few have the honor to serve on this committee. Bohnenblust is just the third Kansan to ever be selected.
Graduating from college is no easy feat, but for one agricultural education alumnus, it just wasn’t enough. Will Johnson (’17) has went above and beyond after graduation from Kansas State University.
After student teaching in the spring of 2017 at Cimarron High School, he took a leap and accepted a job as a teacher at Sublette High School, a nearby school that didn’t have an FFA program – that quickly changed.
During the summer, Johnson converted the essentially unused shop from storage to a working environment and began paperwork to start an FFA program at the school.
Johnson, a Whitewater, Kansas, native, says, “I really like the area and the people out here. It seemed like a chance to start something new for the community.”
This fall he is teaching an introduction to agriculture class for eighth graders and an agriculture, food, and natural resources class; an animal science class; and an agricultural structures class for high school students. In the future, he hopes to add a plant and soil science class and research in agriculture class to the curriculum.
Each October, the Kansas State University agricultural education program selects students to travel to the National FFA Convention. These students represented the K-State Agricultural Education Club, the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education, and the entire College of Agriculture.
A recent campaign aims to bring attention to the nationwide shortage of agricultural educators. This shortage includes the state of Kansas, home to 176 agricultural education programs. Shannon Washburn, agricultural education professor explains schools that previously did not have programs have added them, increasing the demand for teachers.