This August will be a little different for Katie Duitsman.
The former St. Joseph-Ogden High School agriculture teacher will not be walking into the agriculture room and greeting classes full of students.
Instead, she will start a new job at the state 4-H office in Champaign.
Duitsman and her husband, Kyle, welcomed twins earlier this year. The expanding family was one of the reasons Duitsman decided now was the time to leave SJO.
“I was approached about an opportunity at the U of I and it provided a more consistent schedule,” she said. “Growing up, 4-H and FFA were the two organizations that inspired me to go into agriculture education. I will be working at the state 4-H office with youth in agriculture, which is obviously a passion of mine.”
Duitsman said she didn’t arrive at the decision to leave SJO lightly.
“It was a very difficult decision for me and my family,” she said. “I have made so many wonderful relationships with students, families and staff in the SJO community.”
Over the course of six years, Duitsman revitalized the FFA program at SJO and spearheaded fundraising to purchase a greenhouse.
Despite all her personal accomplishments with the program, Duitsman said she is most proud of her students and their achievements.
“They plan, organize and carry out all activities within the chapter,” she said. “It aways amazed me how creative, service oriented and thoughtful the members are. They are learning so many life skills that will make them successful in the future. The growth and increased interest and involvement over the past six years is something I am very proud of.”
Duitsman said she feels agriculture education is important because everyone consumes food and should have an understanding, along with an appreciation, of where the food comes from.
Duitsman said she will miss seeing how her students grow over the four years they are in high school and beyond.
“I love seeing students pursue a degree in agriculture and knowing that passion was sparked or ignited within my classroom,” she said. “I also loved watching FFA members excel at various events after working so hard to achieve those goals.”
Duitsman said she plans to stay active in the SJO FFA chapter as a member of the alumni group, which functions as sort of a booster club.
“The success of the program is very important to me as we will hopefully have two future SJO FFA members and agriculturists in our household,” she said. “I am excited they found someone local with a lot of experience to continue to grow the program.”
To get more information on the SJO FFA Alumni group visit them on Facebook.