CNE job fulfills dream for new ag ed teacher
By Dick Maloney
Faith Stegbauer knew as a high school student what she wanted to do after college, and where. Less than a year after graduating from college, she has achieved both goals.
Stegbauer is the new agricultural education teacher and FFA (Future Farmers of America) advisor at Clermont Northeastern High School. The Fayetteville Perry High School alumna replaces long-time teacher David Jelley, who retired last winter, and Shelby Williams, the long-term substitute who finished the 2021-2022 school year.
The daughter of a CNE alumna, Stegbauer grew up and still lives on her family’s grain farm in Lynchburg. She graduated from Morehead State University, in Kentucky, in the spring, and landed her “dream job” shortly afterward.
“When I was in college, my goal was to make it through school and get my degree, and kind of my dream job was to come here come to Clermont Northeastern, and when I got ready to graduate it … was like all the puzzle pieces fell together.”
CNE’s campus is about three miles from the Clermont County Fairgrounds, where Stegbauer has shown feeder cattle and pygmy goats, and where she was named the Fair Queen in 2019. She brings a broad-based knowledge set to CNE, and has been working to put her own imprint on the school’s agricultural education program – Stegbauer referred to it as “shifting the perspective” of some of the older students about agricultural education.
Specifically, she has made them aware of the vast opportunities for contests and other involvement. One of those events is Monday, Sept. 19, when students will participate in the District 9 soil-judging contest at the Butler County Fairgrounds. She will take a delegation to Indianapolis in October for the FFA National Convention. The first month of school has been busy.
“The first few weeks have been amazing. I'm pleasantly surprised with all of the students. They're very willing to learn and for the most part, they seem happy that I'm here,” Stegbauer said.
There are approximately 80 students who take ag ed programs at CNE. Stegbauer teaches five classes, including Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Plant and Animal Science, Livestock Selection and Nutrition, Practical Woodworking and Mechanical Principles. The first weeks of class were spent on general FFA background – such as learning about the state and national officers, and the importance of FFA to society, which says is underappreciated by many, including some of her students.
“I've always thought of it … in my perfect world would be that every high school in the country had some sort of like basic ag class that everybody took in order to graduate because there's a really big disconnect from the agricultural world and consumers,” Stegbauer said. “A lot of kids even in this school district just have no concept of where their food comes from. They think they can just go to Kroger and there it is, you know, and there's not a whole lot of thought that goes into how we produce those items and how they actually make it on store shelves.”
She also discusses the current challenges facing the agricultural industry – inflation among the most serious; communication another.
“Right now, especially with social media and such as it's been this way for years, it can be very easy to misconstrue something that happens on a farm or something that happens in the ag industry,” she said. “It can be just a 10-second clip, you know, somebody puts it out and it can just be like a split second of something went wrong and it can misconstrue the whole entire industry of how and make it look in a bad light.”
While her experience is in grain, Stegbauer also knows the animal side of the industry – animal science was her secondary major at Morehead State. She feels confident teaching all aspects to her students, who have reciprocated with a willingness to learn. She has found working at CNE to be everything she expected.
“My favorite thing for right now is just the interest … and the willingness to learn in all of my students. I was looking forward to it, but it's pretty much been all of my students in all of my classes for the most part are interested and willing to learn and that's been really good for me. I've enjoyed it.”
Passing her love of agriculture to her students – all part of the plan.