By JUDY SHERARD
PLAINVILLE -- Teresa Brandenburg practices what she teaches.
Brandenburg, who grew up in Iowa, is the agriculture education teacher at Plainville High School.
"I started raising cattle and sheep with my grandpa and my uncle when I was 12," she said. "That drew me into production agriculture."
A high school agriculture class introduced her to FFA.
"From there on, I knew that I was hooked. I decided I wanted to be an ag teacher when I was a sophomore in high school."
She and her husband, Luke, whose family operates a farm in Russell County, live in Osborne. They have a son, Jacob, 4, and are expecting another son.
A graduate of Iowa State, this is Brandenburg's first contracted position, though she's worked as a substitute since finishing college. She's happy to have her own classroom and students.
"FFA and agriculture education has a huge opportunity to change the lives of students that maybe don't feel comfortable in other parts of school," she said. "That is a huge strong point, and it's one of the things I love."
As the FFA adviser, she's looking forward to building on the Plainville FFA chapter's history.
"The foundation already is built. (We have) good kids, good administration and good families."
Brandenburg's graduating class at Iowa State mostly was women. Women are becoming more common in the classroom and as leaders in FFA.
The agriculture classes at PHS rotate throughout the year, but she has a total of 30 students in four classes -- agri-science, agri-business and two sections of welding.
She admits welding isn't her specialty, but she's learning.
"It's a skill that you can use. That's all of agriculture," Brandenburg said. "It doesn't matter whether you're male, female, whatever age you are, there are skills we're going to teach these kids that are going to benefit them for the rest of their lives -- whether they go into a traditional agriculture career or just go on to fulfill their dreams in some other way."
The number of students in agriculture classes might decrease and programs get cut, but "the need for people to eat is never going to go away," Brandenburg said.
"We're always going to need food," she said. "Agriculture is always going to be the way to supply that food. There will never be a way that agriculture will become obsolete."