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New ag teacher at MHS looking forward to year

August 12, 2010
By Jodelle Greiner

MARSHALL - Nothing much rattles Colleen Duba. She has no problem moving up from a part-time teaching position to a full-time position, taking on a leadership role in one of the largest FFA chapters in Minnesota, getting married and moving to a new home.

And she has no problem doing it all at the same time.

"Stress doesn't bother me," she said confidently.

Duba is the new ag teacher hired by the Marshall School Board to replace Eric Sawatzke, who took a job at Dassel-Cokato High School.

"I'm very excited about it," Duba said.

Duba grew up in Worthington and earned an agriculture education communication and leadership degree from South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D.

"I've said I wanted to go into teaching since I was really young," Duba said. "Being in FFA, I was inspired by my high school ag instructor, I would say."

Duba is one of the new breed of FFAers: she didn't grow up on a farm.

"I grew up in town. Dad had a heating/air conditioning and sheet metal business," she said, adding she did visit her grandparents on their farm.

She knows ag class and FFA is about so much more these days than farming.

"It's not just for farm kids. That's the biggest assumption people make is it's just for farm kids and it's not," Duba said. "There's a lot of leadership opportunities, lots of chances to find specialized interest areas through CDEs (Career Development Events) and SAEs (Supervised Agriculture Experience).

"It's a good place for students to network with individuals, within our school and other schools. That's something they can take with them outside of high school; it stays with them," she said.

Duba doesn't think being female makes a difference for women who are interested in agriculture.

"I don't think I'll be perceived differently in the classroom or shop," she said. "It's nothing I worry about because I can't control it. People will think what they want to think and I'll go from there."

She thinks girls and boys can go wherever they want in agriculture.

"There's so many different directions to go," Duba said. "Agriculture is not going away. Opportunities are there for anyone who is willing to put in the time and has an interest."

Teaching ag appeals to her on a variety of levels.

"All things are changing in agriculture," she said. "It's hands-on, so many different areas. It's not like you'd be teaching the same thing all the time."

Duba's interest in teaching ag led her back to Worthington, where she taught ag last year on a part-time basis. In addition to teaching, she handled FFA matters, and expects things to be much the same in Marshall, working with fellow ag teacher Paul Lanoue.

"No different than (Worthington)," she predicted. "I just didn't have as many classes (there). The schedules have already been made (at MHS). I'll have some shop classes. I like being in the shop. I'm really looking forward to working with the FFA side of things.

"One of the things I like to do is make sure the kids are comfortable in the classroom and make sure we're covering topics they are interested in," Duba said. "I like to take the time to get to know my students, too. I think that makes for a more effective classroom setting."

Duba had reasons for taking the MHS job.

"I wanted to stay teaching. I enjoyed my first year of teaching and wanted to continue it," said Duba, adding she enjoys both being in the classroom and shop. "I like the teaching, but I was in a part-time position. Second, I'm getting married and moving closer to this area."

Her wedding to Joseph Wichern is Saturday. The couple plans to live near Tyler, where her fiance is from. She will begin her duties Aug. 16 with a new teacher workshop.



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