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FFA WEEK: Charlson a strong advocate for FFA

By Staff | Feb 20, 2017

BESIDES THE TRADITIONAL classroom, ag education includes shop training with an emphasis on safety. Teacher Angie Charlson is at ease in either class setting.

By CLAYTON RYE

crye@wctatel.net

CLARION – Angie Charlson’s journey as an ag teacher and FFA advisor began when her home school in Dows did not offer a program in ag education.

Today, she is in charge of the ag education program in the Clarion-Goldfield-Dows school district, and is a strong advocate for the FFA program.

She teaches six classes at Clarion and is shared with the school at neighboring Eagle Grove where she teaches two classes.

When she started at Clarion-Goldfield-Dows, she was the third teacher in three years and recognized the ag education program needed strengthening.

“I started building my own curriculum,” she said. “There’s strong community support here, always has been.”

“The door is open to anything. We are so much more than farmers.”

Part of her ag education is teaching students to make corsages from silk flowers as part of the horticulture program.

“The floral industry is huge,” said Charlson.

The FFA has a competition in floral design.

While acknowledging that agriculture is the base of FFA, there are other areas that are of great importance.

“Communication is the key,” she said. “Record keeping is important, no matter what you do with your life. Leadership is important.”

Since graduating college, Charlson has participated in CASE – Curriculum for Agriculture and Science Education – attending sessions in Minnesota and Michigan.

“You were put in a student’s shoes,” she said. “It’s a hands-on education.”

CASE incorporates science into agriculture and, because of attending, Charlson has added a soils unit to her freshmen class and made lab safety an important part of education.

The beginning

Charlson was beginning her senior year at Dows High School and wanted to pursue a career as a naturalist.

To do that, she needed to enroll in an ag education program which was not offered by the Dows school.

Arrangements were made for her to attend a class at Northeast Hamilton, in Blairsburg, where an ag education program was available.

he joined FFA as a Greenhand, something usually done by freshmen, in her senior year and received the award as Outstanding Greenhand at year end.

Prior to joining FFA, Charlson was active in 4-H, first as a member of the Blaine Blue Ribbon Winners and then the Lincoln Leaders 4-H club. She would show horse, swine and rabbit projects.

“My mother forced me to do clothing and sewing projects,” she said.

Charlson did enjoy the food and nutrition part of 4H, being a member for nine years.

“I was very active in 4-H,” she said.

Charlson graduated from Dows High School in 1997 and that fall enrolled at Ellsworth Community College, in Iowa Falls, with an emphasis in conservation.

“I wanted to work as a naturalist,” she said.

Charlson liked the idea that as a naturalist, part of her duties would be going to different schools and talking about conservation to students.

“I like working with people.”

At ECC, Dr. Dan Brown was her advisor.

“He was my post-secondary agricultural student advisor,” Charlson said. “It’s just like an FFA advisor.”

It was during Charlson’s second year at ECC that she knew what direction she wanted to take.

Dr. Marvin Hoskey, of Northwest Missouri State University, in Maryville, Missouri, visited Iowa Falls to recruit students for the college’s ag education program.

“I really thought I was going to Montana. I liked wildlife,” said Charlson. “Dr. Hoskey was amazing. He was almost Dr. Brown.”

Charlson credits these two educators for encouraging her to become a teacher in ag education.

She also credits her parents for instilling in her a love of agriculture. Her father was a mill operator at Rowan for Cargill and had a small farm where he raised soybeans and hogs.

“My parents were always supportive,” she said. “My mother taught me to sew. My dad taught me appreciation for livestock.”

By summer 1999, Charlson had enrolled at Northwest Missouri State in ag education with a goal of graduating with a teaching degree and teacher’s license.

She wanted to end up in a classroom, but was open to other opportunities.

Charlson student taught at Savannah, Missouri in a two-person department.

“It was fun. They enjoyed what they did.”

After graduation in May, she moved back to Dows as she and Austin Charlson, a fellow Iowan who graduated from Northwest Missouri State and wanted to pursue a career in agriculture, were to be married in November.

He was working as a farmhand near Clarion and she started at Monsanto in Clarion for a summer.

A friend told her of an opening at Fort Dodge Animal Health that she applied for and was hired, working as part of a team with rabbits and guinea pigs.

“It was a great place to work,” she said.

After not quite a year she heard of an opening for an ag education teacher in the Clarion-Goldfield Community School District. It was a position for one year as the teacher indicated he would probably return.

“It was a big risk,” Charlson recalled. “I had a good job at Fort Dodge. I was driving 80 miles a day. I really wanted to do what I got my degree for.”

Taking that change, Charlson accepted the one-year position 13 years ago.

And when the previous teacher did not return, she was offered the job as the school’s ag education teacher, a position she has held since.

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