Who the hell is the feral ag teacher? The beginning...

The year is 2016, I just started my first full time teaching position as a high school agriculture teacher. I had no formal training yet as I was in a credentialing program where you are an "intern" teacher. This meant I was hired in a full time teaching position, full course load, no mentor teacher other than those who were teaching the courses I was attending at night. Talk about sink or swim!  Thankfully for me, teaching had always been in my bones. No, I don't come from a family of educators nor did I have any desire growing up to be in education. I know what you're thinking "Umm so how does that make any sense then?". 

At the age of 3, I knew exactly what I wanted to be, "a cow doctor". Growing up on a ranch that my great grandparents settled on in the early 1900s and coming from ranching/farming families from both of my parents made this seem like the most probable career path. I LOVED cows, still do. The idea of being able to be around them all day and being the person who people trusted to care for them was exactly who I wanted to be. This set me on a path focused heavily in agriculture.

 

My mom got me set up with the local 4-H club when I was 6 years old and I soon realized that the best way for me to learn was to teach. I eventually was acting a a junior leader for projects, then teen leader, and after 13 years of membership I became a project leader myself helping with the beef and rabbit projects. I was an active member of the FFA and raised beef and dairy cattle which ended up paying for most of my college education.

Jump to 2013, 21 years old on my own in college, ready to master my core classes and get into a great vet school, and instead of prepping for my GRE I find myself in the hospital undergoing emergency surgery that would leave me in and out of the hospital for months. Long story short I failed core classes and was told with Fs on my transcript I would never get accepted to vet school. Talk about CRUSHED. My entire life had been planning and preparing for that exact thing which was so close and now completely out of reach. If you don't think its that serious just wait until I tell you about my experience with UC Davis years later. That transcript STILL haunts me.

 

A year later I am back home helping with the beef show at the county fair totally lost in what direction I would take with my life. I was standing ring side with my old ag teacher watching the FFA kids doing showmanship and this conversation changed my life. Shout out to Mrs. Spears! I was telling her how I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life now. I knew I wanted to be involved in agriculture still and share my passions with the world, but had no idea how to proceed. She asked "well have you thought about being an ag teacher?" WHAT?! ME?! Absolutely not, I had barely left high school a few years prior and had no intention of going back! What she said next has stuck with me over a decade later; "Holly, you are passionate about agriculture, have been teaching other about it most of your life. You can back a trailer, braid hair and BBQ. That's really all there is to it" Holy shit...could that really be it? Could I...be an...educator?

I returned to college in the fall, changed my major from pre vet to agriculture science and enrolled in a few career and technical education courses. I volunteered at a local high school in Nevada to shadow the agriculture teacher and found that I had a way of connecting with the students that brought me pure joy. I was at the top of my class and as asked to help design and build agriculture programs with the state of Nevada. I knew I wanted to be back home on the ranch so after graduation I came back home, got enrolled in a program (Not UC Davis, but we can talk about that another day) and found myself as an intern teacher at my home towns rival high school.

I had no idea when I started that I would eventually grow into the person I am today, and the feral ag teacher was not anyone who I ever thought I would be. But stepping into that mechanics shop in 2016 started the trajectory of what can only be described as the biggest dumpster fire I have ever seen. And I had 2 choices; let it burn me alive and leave me to ash, or embrace the chaos and adapt to live in the fire. I did the later.

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