Balancing is part of becoming an adult. Learning to properly allocate time to each specific task can be challenging. Hayden has had to learn to do that. Being an Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor is basically the definition of balancing. Going from being a student himself to teaching students every day has been something that Hayden is ecstatic about. Being excited about teaching the youth is something we all can admire, which makes him a great Young Person in Ag.
- What is your agriculture background?
I don’t really have a huge agriculture background. I come from a small town of Noble, Illinois and I guess my agriculture was helping my dad in the oil fields. I took the introduction to agriculture class because ag was really the only elective my school offered.
- What was some of your high school experiences/involvement in ag?
If I had to pinpoint one thing that really got me interested in agriculture and FFA it would have to be the 212 conference my sophomore year of high school. My ag teacher drug me along and really made me step out of my comfort zone. I was a very quiet guy and meeting new people was different. After that experience I began to really enjoy talking and meeting other students with the same passion as me. I was then able to become involved in leadership positions within my chapter and was even a Section President.
- What college did you attend and what was your major?
I attend a junior college my freshman and sophomore year of college and that was at Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, Illinois and was an Agriculture Transfer major. I didn’t start college with a goal of becoming an agriculture teacher. I was going to go into agriculture business. My sophomore year I decided that Agriculture Education was where I wanted to go. After Wabash Valley I transferred to the University of Illinois and was a Agriculture Science Education major.
- What was your involvement at the U of I?
I was part of a couple different clubs on campus including the Agriculture Education club, Collegiate Farm Bureau, Collegiate FFA. I also loved being a part of Block-I and Orange Crush, both spirit sections for football and basketball. I also was fortunate to do some observations at the Oblong and Nokomis FFA Chapter and do my student teaching at Mt. Pulaski.
- What were your internships experiences like?
For five summers, I interned for Wabash Valley Service Company in Olney, Illinois as well as Growmark. I did different things like helping farmers with seed and chemical application. Talking with farmers and building relationships for the company. It was a great way to learn to be a better ag teacher.
- What is your dream job or would you say you’re in it now?
I am currently the Agriculture Teacher and FFA advisor at Red Hill High School in Bridgeport, IL. I would say that being an ag teacher is my dream job. I was to be a teacher for as long as I can be. I guess you could say more goals I would have would be that the chapter and enrollment in agriculture classes goes up. As well as the chapter becomes more and more successful.
- What is the hardest part about being a teacher?
Balancing all the different things we do. Teaching for 7 class periods a day, preparing for the next 2-3 contests, with students handling alumni, grading homework, and so on are just some of the things I do every day. Being able to wear many hats and switch those on and off it something that I am finding takes work but I love it. No day is the same.
- What is the easiest part about being a teacher?
Waking up every day and coming to work. The students are great to work with. I hope in some way I am making a positive impact on their lives and teaching them something that they can use in the future.
- Do you remember anything that has really changed in the agriculture industry?
I say this now that I am in a job that I manage three shops and teach shop classes. But I have seen a huge shift in students don’t know how to work with their hands. They have become very good at working on a computer or phone and being productive, but if you ask them to go change a tire or weld something, the majority don’t know how to do so and find it harder to learn to. While I was only in high school about 5 years ago, it seemed like more of my classmates could do that type of stuff. I’m sure if you look back even further the shift is huge.
- How do you see the agriculture industry changing in the next 5-10 years?
The same trend as we are seeing now. Technology will get bigger and bigger and more important in our daily lives. We have to feed 9 billion people by the year 2050. Technology will play a huge role in that. Having it be efficient and use it to the best we can will make a big impact.
- What do you think sets the agriculture industry apart from other industries?
It is an enormous field. There is a wide array of pathways that people can take within. Take my classroom for example. I currently offer and teach 12 different agriculture classes. That’s 12 different pathways and opportunities that students would have, and that’s just at one school. I also think about the sheer importance of the agriculture industry compared to other industries and how we have to work hard at feeding and clothing this world.
Lake Land College