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CHS Ag Ed: Rupprecht's ready to roll

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    With the hiring of teacher Whitney Rupprecht, an Ag Ed program is poised to launch at CHS when classes start Sept. 8. Times Assistant Editor Jess Bengtson reached out to Rupprecht to learn more about her and the new program. 

First, tell us a little about yourself and your family

    I grew up in Thief River Falls, MN where I met my husband - yes, we are high school sweethearts, I have three busy kiddos, 6, 4, 2 and enjoy chasing them around. We currently live South of Red Lake Falls, MN and love being in the country!

People may have heard you received your education from the University of Minnesota Crookston and taught Agriculture Education for Fertile-Beltrami before coming to Crookston. Could you elaborate on your experiences at both UMN Crookston and FB?

    I absolutely LOVED UMC. The community, staff, and faculty were amazing. Lyle Westrom was an amazing advisor that really pushed me to be the best educator I could be. While at UMC, I was active in the Dairy Club, CFFA, and the Animal Science Association. One of my favorite classes was my internal experience in France. During this class, we traveled to farms, schools, and communities to learn more about agriculture.

    I was able to graduate in 3 years and was super excited to start my first teaching career at Fertile-Beltrami.

    Over the past seven years, I taught at Fertile-Beltrami High School. During that time, I developed curriculum for the program, had numerous Regional, State, and National FFA Winners, and worked to develop students Supervised Agricultural Experiences.

You’ll be bringing a whole new Ag Ed program to Crookston High School. Tell us about what you have planned and your curriculum that we heard you designed from scratch.

    I am just finishing up designing the curriculum for the Crookston High School. Everything in my classes is going to be specific to this area and I could not be more excited. I want the students to be excited to come to school and learn!

    • Intro to Ag I - 7th grade

    Dive into the world of agricultural education. Students will move at a fast-pace during this 1 quarter class and be expected to be engaged learners. The class will cover an introduction to Supervised Agricultural Education, FFA, and Parliamentary Procedure.

    • Intro to Ag II - 8th grade

    It’s not all plows, sows, and cows…

    This class covers the realm of agriculture and its vastness! Learn more about the 6 areas of agriculture in our area.

    • CTE Non Music

    Learning to do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, and Living to Serve.

    This course encompasses the FFA Motto to it’s full potential. Discover the world of agriculture by hands-on labs, careers, and community service.

    • Leadership 101

    Do you want a BOSS or a LEADER? A boss talks more than they listen, directs and points out weaknesses; a leader listens and learns, coaches, and recognizes natural gifts. This class will prepare you for being a leader and how to be a continual learner, in the classroom, community, and your career.

    • Food Science

    You’ve seen Chopped, Iron Chef, Cake Boss….but now it is YOUR TURN!

    Become immersed into the world of food with the Food Science class!! Learn the science, history, and influence behind what you cook and develop your own cooking style.

    • Floral Design & Landscape

    Roses are red...violets are blue…

    Learn how to take basic flowers and turn them into beautiful arrangements by utilizing the elements are art and principles of design. During the second semester, turn all of your knowledge into large scale landscaping!!

How do you hope this new program extends to other students in other schools either in Crookston or in the region? Junior Ag Ed activities? Elementary collaboration?

    With my program, I plan on giving FFA membership to anyone that takes a class with me. That means that all 7 & 8th grade students will be able to participate in FFA opportunities like Leadership Development Events, Career Development Events and Leadership Conferences. It is going to take me a bit to get everything up and going, but in the future, I would love to offer some community education classes and have my FFA members work with elementary students on agricultural literacy.

Did you grow up in an agricultural environment? Were you involved in 4-H or FFA? Tell us more and tell us your favorite parts of those programs.

    I grew up in the country, but not in an "ag" environment. My first real experience was when I brought home ducks from the Pennington County Fair, without telling my parents, and hid them in my bedroom. Side note, they found out within a day, but allowed me to keep them!

    Shortly after, as most little girls want, I got a horse. After learning equine husbandry, I wanted to try something different as I was not interested in gaming. I began my journey of endurance riding with my Arabian Horse. If you do not know what endurance is, it is 50-100 miles on horse, in 24 hours of less. Yes, that means a sore butt, legs, back - you name it - but it was so much fun and I loved just running with my horse.

    I joined FFA in 9th grade when my Ag Teacher gave me the option of serving detention (for being too sassy) or attending the FFA Horse Judging CDE. I gave it my all, and my sassiness (kind of) went away. I served as a Chapter President, and then Region I President. I competed in many events, but my favorites were Horse Judging, Parliamentary Procedure, and Extemporaneous Speaking.

    When I started dating my now husband, I found my love for dairy cattle. He put up with me running to the cows (they mostly ran away) to try to pet them. I learned how to show them and care for them..and make them extra spoiled.

Are you ready for an altered version of a new school year due to the pandemic? How have you prepared?

    Ready may not quite be the word, but I have been working to develop activities that will allow students to be engaged and have fun, while still maintaining guidelines.

    Starting a new FFA Chapter is going to look a little different, but I want to offer as much as I can to the students.

What advice would you give to other future educators hoping to explore Ag Ed?

    DO IT!!!!  Being an Ag Ed Instructor is so amazing. The relationships built with students is like non-other. I love my job 99.99% of the time...the 0.01% I don't because I get hangry.

    It is A LOT of work, a lot of dedication, but so worth it in the end.

Do you have any quirks or special talents? Fill us in.  

    I'm not super talented, but I do have some quirks!

    Llamas are my absolute favorite animal! I will say they are my spirit animal. They do not bug anyone, super calm, watchful, stubborn, BUT they protect their herd.

    I love being creative, which hopefully the students will notice when I teach. I cannot paint or draw, BUT I love to do photography and makeup.

CHS Ag Ed instructor Whitney Rupprecht, left, and Amber Petry of AgCountry Farm Credit Services in Crookston are pictured outside the Crookston office. AgCountry has donated FFA student handbooks for the new program at the high school. The two are displaying a couple of handbooks.