Brady Duxbury, Chester Area High School, Chester, South Dakota
Many, if not a majority of the students in Brady Duxbury’s agriculture classes live and work on a farm. As a member of the agriculture department at Chester Area High School, Duxbury’s goals are to expand his curricula to make it increasingly relevant to his students. It is important to him that his students are learning skills and knowledge that will lead to them being successful but also safe in an industry that is often dangerous.
“Agriculture is one of the most dangerous careers on the planet and anybody involved in agriculture knows that it’s not if you get hurt, but rather when and how badly you will be injured…I have been injured while growing up working on a farm in my youth and have unfortunately had a friend who was only 21 years old lose his life to a farming accident. He was doing chores that I have done hundreds of times before,” says Duxbury, “Safety is a philosophy and way of life in agriculture and I believe it needs to be instilled in young people early and often.”
Part of a small community, Duxbury is involving local businesses and community leaders who can contribute to lessons in his classroom. Professionals from multiple fields of study speak with his students and discuss what they do and how they arrived at the decision to pursue their work. Duxbury wants his students to acquire knowledge concepts but also the applied mastery of what they learn.
“We have attempted to make lessons more hands-on by bringing in guest speakers and putting on presentations, such as having a live demonstration of sheep or cattle dogs working livestock, or having a police officer in to show proper gun safety and maintenance,” explains Duxbury. Duxbury and his peers have explored hands-on learning in electricity, engines, growing plants, business management and many more. He believes that students learn best when they learn about content through an approach that allows them to ‘get their hands dirty’ and understand the practice behind the principles of their lessons.
Duxbury teaches a breadth of agricultural related topics including Fundamental Animal Science, Agriculture Leadership, Ag Mechanics, Agribusiness Entrepreneurship, and Fundamental Plant Science. Because of his teaching approach, it is important that Duxbury’s students have safety training specific to the workplace and Duxbury says the OSHA credential gives his students an advantage over competition in the future. He believes his students are safer because of safety training and appreciates that lesson plans extend beyond fundamental workplace safety and into specific safety and health training related to agriculture. One of his favorite aspects of the agriculture CTE pathway is the huge range of SAE programs it has to offer. At one time, the emphasis was for students to participate in SAE with safety training placed on the back burner. Now, it is more important than ever for safety to be part of the conversation day in and day out and Duxbury is adamant that is students are prepared.
With the local community so supportive of Duxbury and the agriculture program, he and his students care deeply about continuous involvement in the community and giving back. They put on a benefit breakfast for 250-300 people to thank them for their support as well as fundraisers for people in need and hang Christmas decorations through the town during the holiday season. Duxbury and his students have continuously used their skills and knowledge of animal science to manage an animal nursery open to the public which included the elementary school students who were able to interact and learn about farm animals. Recently, Duxbury explains that his students assembled and ran a stock dog trial, a competitive dog sporting event for herding dogs, which the community attended.
Duxbury is hopeful that the agriculture program at Chester Area High School will continue to expand to include more community service and inspire his students to do and achieve more than they thought possible before enrolling into his classes. “I chose to become a CTE teacher because I was affected by a CTE teacher as a student. I was pushed to be involved and take on leadership opportunities. I have developed a passion to show students their potential and introduce them to future careers.”