Matthew Elsass is a 2012 agricultural and extension education graduate who grew up in Anna, Ohio. He now lives in Sidney, Ohio. and is an agricultural educator at Marion Local High School in Maria Stein, Ohio.
We asked Matthew to share with us what it is like to be an agricultural educator and his answers are below.
Candid headshot from hat day during FFA Week.
[ACEL]: Why did you choose to major in agricultural and extension education (now called agriscience education) as a college student?
[Elsass]: I was pulled into agricultural education by watching my own ag teachers interact with other teachers at contests, conferences, conventions, camp, etc. I saw the strong connection between them and saw what a rich professional network looks like. While in college, I developed a passion for consumer education and trying to help shrink the knowledge gap between the producer and the consumer.
Tell us about your current job as an agricultural educator and responsibilities associated with the job?
I currently teach agricultural science courses at Marion Local High School in Maria Stein, Ohio. I teach agronomy, livestock science, AFNR, food science, agricultural business and conservation science courses. I am also the Marion Local FFA advisor as well, aiding our student leaders in planning and implementing programming to promote agriculture in our community.
I love taking students to visit local businesses and talk to industry professionals. Many of them don’t realize the amount of agricultural industry in the community!
What is your favorite part of the job?
One of the things I like most in my job is getting to share new experiences with students! Things like watching an FFA member attend FFA camp for the first time, an officer pulling off their first major event, or having them cross the stage at the State FFA Convention all bring a smile to my face. Whether they happen in or out of the classroom, they never lose their appeal.
Interacting with younger students is a satisfying part of my job, especially when those educational moments are led by ag science students of mine.
Did you hold any other jobs between graduation and your current job?
As a newly minted graduate, I spent a month long-term subbing in the Ridgemont High School science department. After that, I spent the first 3 years of my teaching career at Greeneview High School in Jamestown, Ohio.
How did majoring in agricultural and extension education help prepare you for your career?
The agricultural education major (now called agriscience education) at Ohio State was crucial in helping me understand what the teaching profession entails. They were open about its hardships along with its rewards. The advisors did a good job harboring a group mentality among our classmates, just like you encounter in the ag teaching profession amongst other ag science teachers.
As a student, what internships or other involvement were you a part of?
As a student at Ohio State, I was a member of the Agricultural Education Society (AES) and Farmhouse-ATZ Fraternity. Surrounding myself with individuals with a passion for agriculture and education was vital in helping me develop the skills to exceed in my chosen career and to practice the professionalism necessary in a school setting. I was also a student manager in the audio/video department at the Ohio Union for over two years. It was amazing meeting everyone from Bobby Knight to Nick Offerman while helping setup and do sound checks for various events. AV might seem like a strange choice for an agricultural education major, but every shift was unique. I was able to practice my people skills helping clients of the union and learn technical skills that have proven useful in the classroom. Also, my bosses were amazing!
Attending community events with my family is one way that I share the experience of being an ag teacher. My kids are always excited to see “Daddy’s students”!
How are you involved in your community outside of your job responsibilities?
I am a member of the Ohio Association of Agricultural Educators (OAAE). I am also an Anna FFA Alumni member, Ohio FFA Alumni member and parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus church in McCartyville, OH. With Sacred Heart, I have been a CYO Basketball coach in the past.
Why should someone reading this consider a career in agricultural education?
Anyone that enjoys helping others find their passion in life and guiding them toward a life of fulfillment and community service should consider becoming an agricultural educator.