Meet Rachel Sauvola, agriculture teacher at New Richmond High School, in Wisconsin. For the last 20 years, Mrs. Sauvola has been a great resource for her students, an advocate for the agricultural education profession, and an inspiration for both future and current agriculture teachers across the nation. Here's a quick Q&A to help you get to know Mrs. Sauvola and find out why she has the BEST. CAREER. EVER!
Q: Who inspired you to be an agriculture teacher?
A: My dad first tricked me into attending my first FFA meeting when I was twelve. After I found an exceptional group of like-minded agriculture students who were up for adventure just like me, I was hooked! I was blessed with a junior high instructor, Ed Bielinski, who immediately got me involved, and then when my family moved to Stoughton, I was further inspired by Jerry Wendt. My dad also continues to inspire me as he farms in southern Wisconsin.
A: I LOVE being the teacher in the school who gets to expose my students to new experiences every day - things they have never done, places they have never been to, or food items they have never tasted! We bond over these experiences and they remember them for life. Years later, they see me downtown and start our conversation with, "Remember when we..." and those are moments I will always treasure!
Q: Describe a typical day for you as an agriculture teacher.
A: I love that no two days are ever the same! I have no idea what I will truly encounter when I wake up! I have to get my own children off to school, and then I hit the ground running in my own classroom at 7:20am, as school begins at 7:35am. I do a preliminary check around my department to listen and observe the fish, livestock, companion animals, and greenhouse spaces, to ensure things are ready for the day. Sometimes my day goes awry right there if something or someone needs to be attended to right away. The students who take the class associated with our school farm check-in and get their task list. I then teach six different courses -- out of my 16 course repertoire -- before checking in with the afternoon farm students. If I'm lucky, I will have prep time at the end of the school day. I also attend numerous meetings after school, both within the district and in the community. I network with my volunteers to ensure that tasks they are helping with are in line and on track. I answer emails and return phone calls. Then it's back home to see my family and read with my kids before bedtime. In all honesty, my dear, dear husband handles many things at home. Sometimes you have a sick or injured animal, a greenhouse malfunction, a large fish tank issue, a student who needs you, or any other number of things that require time and patience to get through. It's no joke that we work long hours!
A: I have had two:
1. Being able to design my own facility during the construction of the new high school.
2. Creating the SOAR Educational Center (SOAR stands for Student Opportunities with Agricultural Resources). It's our school district farm that is a huge community collaboration, where my students and I raise food for school lunch. We presently have 14 head of beef cattle, 50 chickens, 12 ducks, and a petting zoo goat. Our school's nutrition department pays my agriscience department for the things we produce, so that our farm is a real-working farm.
Q: Why should others consider a career as an agriculture teacher?
A: If you love fast-paced activity that leaves a lasting impact on others, teaching agriculture is for you! It's a necessary career to showcase our food, fiber, and natural resource systems, as consumers get back to knowing more about where the commodities come from in their daily lives. Being a force for success in a local community is a super cool thing when fabulous students engage in helping you to teach others about agriculture too.
Interested in the BEST. CAREER. EVER? Check out the Teach Ag website for more information on how you can begin your journey today!