— The University of Wisconsin-River Falls was front and center stage during the general session at the 89th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis Oct. 21. Six individuals, all connected to UW-River Falls, served as a real life testament to historian Henry Adams quote, “A teacher affects eternity; one can never tell where their influence stops.”
Roger King, agriscience teacher at Holmen High School and 2016 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, began by noting how back in high school a suggestion by his own agriculture teacher encouraged him to become one, too. King in turn has impacted the career paths of several other individuals, among those his own son, Nathan. Nathan King is the agriculture teacher at Cashton High School and he paid tribute to his father during the general session.
“In high school even as other careers started popping into my brain, I was reassured that I wanted to an agriculture teacher when I watched my dad teach,” Nathan King said.
Troy Talford, agriculture teacher at Sauk Prairie High School, Prairie du Sac, took the microphone next and described how he student taught under Roger King who showed him that not all students should be assessed by multiple choice answers or from textbook questions.
“I still reach out to Roger on a regular basis to discuss new ways to reach my students, and look to him as a forever mentor in my life,” Talford said.
When Talford had the opportunity to host a student teacher, he specifically requested that Nathan King be placed with him. Talford had met him as a high school student when he was student teaching with his father. Talford noted how Nathan King reaches out to him, much like he does to King’s father.
“As agriculture teachers, we constantly are looking for ways to help each other out,” Talford added.
But the ripple effect did not stop with these three educators, all UW-River Falls alumni. Three of their former students, Sally Albers, Carrie Urbanek and Andrew Simon, joined them on the stage. Albers described how each of them was influenced by one of these three educators and are now enrolled at UW-River Falls, all majoring in agricultural education.
Talford was Albers high school agriculture teacher, Urbanek’s high school agriculture teacher was Nathan King, and Simon was taught by Roger King. Albers wrapped up the session noting how one simple suggestion and a bit of encouragement given to Roger King nearly 40 years ago has impacted the lives of all six of them on stage. Albers concluded by saying, “When I think about the ripple Carrie, Andrew and I can have as agriculture teachers, I can’t wait to get started. I hope to have half the positive influence on my students as these teachers have had on me.”
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