[Originally published: May 26, 2016]
Doug Anderson has been an agriculture teacher for more than 30 years and has spent the majority of those years at Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School (PBL) in Paxton, Illinois. He has played an instrumental role in building the Ag Program at PBL and has played an even bigger role in the lives of countless students.
AMANDA: What made you choose to pursue a career in Agricultural Education?
DOUG: I chose teaching agriculture because I love agriculture and I love young people. Teaching agriculture allowed me to make the most of 2 interests I have. Also, I enjoy the variety of what I do each day. I enjoyed the practical skills that can be taught to students and being able to relate those to everyday life. I have enjoyed the competitive aspect of Career Development Events, which I learned to appreciate well after I started my career.
AMANDA: What are some things that stand out that helped you get to where you are at today?
DOUG: I had 2 really good parents that supported me in everything I ever did. My father farmed for the first 10 years of my life which developed my interest in agriculture. When he quit farming, he went to work for a seed corn company and so I spent most of my older growing up years closely connected to the agronomy industry. FFA had a huge impact on my life in helping me develop leadership skills and opportunities to compete outside of athletics. My ag teacher really pushed me and helped me see opportunities that I would not have discovered had it not been for ag education. Lastly, I have had the privilege of working with some great teachers, students, parents, alumni, and community members which all had a part in getting me to this point in my career.
AMANDA: Describe a typical day on the job.
DOUG: I’m not sure there is a typical day, which is a big reason why I have enjoyed my career so much. I’m usually up by 4:30 or 5:00am and at school by 6:45am. We often have an FFA practice for an upcoming contest or event. I teach my classes throughout the day and 1 to 2 and sometimes 3 nights a week, we have some kind of FFA activity whether it be a contest, practice, meeting or leadership workshop, etc.
AMANDA: What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
DOUG: The most rewarding part of my career is seeing students succeed. Success is different for nearly every student. For some, it’s choosing a career that they really like and do well in. For some, it is accomplishing goals in FFA. For others, it’s finding a place to fit in and develop friendships. It is very rewarding to watch kids mature into young adults with a purpose and goals for their future.
Anderson will be retiring at the end of this school year. He has loved the career that he has had and, if given the chance, he would not change a single thing. He is thankful for all that his career has given him and is excited to see what this next phase of life has in store.
Are you considering a career in Agricultural Education?
Illinois State University
Ag in the Classroom Intern