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Passion for agriculture leads to successful teaching career

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Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2013 12:00 am

Growing up in the Lockeford and Lodi communities is an upbringing that I am extremely proud of. As a young girl, my grandfather was involved in many aspects of agriculture production and he shared his passion with my mother and her sisters.

That passion was then passed down to me and my brother. I started my journey in becoming an agriculture teacher by showing at the San Joaquin County Fair as a young 4-H member. The fair was something my family looked forward to all year long. It was a time I fondly remember — the time to showcase our animals, our hard work, participate in the auction, be with my grandparents, parents and my brother and reconnect with friends that have since become lifelong friends. It was definitely a family affair, and I loved celebrating my birthday there every year.

When I entered high school, I couldn’t wait to show for Lodi FFA. I had heard so much about the FFA from my mother and her sisters. I even remember looking at a newspaper article about the Modesto FFA Chapter with my grandfather accepting the official charter. I knew it was in my blood, and I couldn’t wait.

My second year as an FFA member, my life changed. I was exposed to so many different opportunities. I was very shy, timid, scared, insecure, however, by my senior year I was confident and ready to take on the world — thanks to my agriculture teachers.

My family gave me the passion and love for agriculture and all of the opportunities, and my agriculture teachers helped to give me the opportunities to develop into a strong, confident person who believed in herself. I wanted to do the same for others, just as they had done for me and knew being an agriculture was a way to give back to something that changed me to become who I truly was.

Because of their belief in me, and my family’s passion, I knew then that I wanted to become an agriculture teacher. I attended Delta College, and then went on to Fresno State (Go Dogs!) where I met some great professors and friends and industry people who taught me the skills I needed to be successful. They challenged me and guided me to becoming an effective teacher that would teach her students the importance of the agriculture industry.

I knew that eventually I would want to come back to Lodi High, I just didn’t know it would happen so fast. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work at Lodi High for the past ten of my eleven years of teaching. I have been able to teach a variety of agriculture classes.

Currently, I teach Ag Earth Science, Ornamental Horticulture and Floral Design. I am excited for our future classes, and have challenged myself to continue in expanding our Floral program to meet the needs of not only our students but our community as well. I am also thankful for the staff at Lodi High, the students and families who have changed and touched my life to make me a better person, teacher, mother and friend with their endless support system.

I am blessed beyond belief to be apart of their lives. This past summer, when I received the Teacher of Excellence award from the California Agriculture Teachers Association, I couldn’t help but think of all the people who have shaped me to be the teacher I am.

My family, my husband, my children, my parents, my grandparents, my brother, my friends, they all support me beyond measure. It was a true honor and humbling experience to be in that category among the greatest agriculture teachers in the state, and I have still more to accomplish.

As a teacher of future agriculturalists who will improve and create technological advancements that will better our agricultural industry and food system that will meet the needs of people around the world, I am ready for the challenge.

Today, I am excited to be a part of the flourishing program and work with two teachers who change students’ lives daily and inspire them to give back to their community, family, school and the agriculture industry — our basis of life.

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Stephanie Hiatt

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