The agriculture department at Creston Community High School has seen a wealth of students come through its doors.
Kelsey Bailey, the agricultural teacher at CCHS and FFA adviser, is a huge proponent of the industry and wants to encourage kids of any background to join in learning.
“My goal is to let them know that there are so many careers available,” said Bailey. “And (to) come away with an appreciation for all the farmers and ranchers out there that are feeding our world.”
Macy Evans, the daughter of Rob and April Evans, is a senior at CCHS and has taken dozens of Bailey’s classes.
Evans received a beef scholarship, a $1,000 scholarship, and plans on attending Iowa State after high school, where she will study agricultural education.
The soon-to-be college student is not the first beef scholarship winner to take one of Bailey’s classes.
Evans holds many titles, such as the Union County 4-H Youth Council president. She is also the vice president of FFA and is on the state 4-H council.
All of the different opportunities have driven Evans to become a dedicated student.
Her goal, as of now, is to teach. When asked if she wanted to teach, Evans responded accordingly, “Yeah, most likely. Hopefully (end up) where Mrs. Bailey is sitting right now.”
Evans has been living on a farm almost the entirety of her life. That has given her a chance to work with a variety of animals. Showing animals has been a big part of Evans’ background as well.
“I’ve showed cattle and pigs,” Evans said. “I’ve even shown chickens and dogs.”
It wasn’t always a rewarding proposition for Evans.
“At first, I hated it when I was young. I hated waking up in the morning,” said Evans. “But now I’ve seen all it’s done for me. It’s developed into a strong work ethic and it’s given me much more than just the food on my table.”
Her involvement with 4-H and FFA have carried her well beyond showing cattle.
“Currently, I’m working on planning a 5K for the Union County Fairground building project,” said Evans. “I’ve been able to do a lot with FFA and they’re going to do an obstacle. I’ve been able to include 4-H, too, and uniting us all in one because we all do stuff at the fair.”
Evans plans to continue working with 4-H and FFA, but is also looking to explore other club opportunities at Iowa State.
For Evans, those plans include making sure the everyday person understands the information they are receving.
Evans is incredibly aware of the importance positive and enlightening information can have overall. She has taken note of the effect any story can have on the industry if it goes viral, especially if it’s negative.
“People are more interested in reading negative things,” critiqued Evans. “We need to spin it so people are more interested in reading and learning about our industry.
“We’re not out to get anyone and purposely trying to feed anyone bad meat. All of us working together can work to solve that problem.”
Both teacher and pupil agree how many different pursuits in agriculture are available to those who are interested.
Bailey has taken note how quickly opportunities can amount to interest. The agriculture class at CCHS offers many different avenues into the world of agriculture.
“I see kind of across the board when kids come in here what motivates them. Some of them it’s the speaking, they want to get out there and be public speakers and be advocates. Others want to go home and farm and so they are in here looking for a specific skill.”
As an instructor, the reward is seeing her students active and involved.
The Iowa cattle industry contributed close to $7 billion to the economy last year. That ranks the industry as one the biggest industries in the state in terms of GDP. In turn, the industry has created nearly 40,000 jobs for Iowans across the state.
Bailey and Evans agree the industry needs more promotion.
“Our job, and will be Macy’s job as an Ag teacher, is to help people realize that, (agriculture) we are what sustains life,” Bailey said.
But for Evans, its not 100 percent agriculture all of the time. Evans is a two-sport athlete competing in volleyball and tennis. She also is in the Spotlight School for Dance and on the dance drill team at the high school.
Her parents have been a big driving force behind her love of agriculture and her overall motivation to stay involved in other pursuits.
“My father has definitely encouraged me to be the best I could ever be,” said Evans. “He gets up really early in the morning and goes to work. During this time of the year we don’t see him much because of everything that’s going on within his work. So, he definitely leads by example.”
Her mom is a big influence as well.
“She always drives within leadership activities like, ‘If you see a blank spot on a volunteer signup, don’t be afraid to sign up.”
Evans and Bailey both want a more expansive understanding about the beef industry than what is already out there. It’s an industry that continues to be a pivotal force in the everyday lives of every citizen across this country, whether they know it or not.