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Fairmont Area Schools hires ag teacher

Katie Elder

FAIRMONT — Katie Elder, Fairmont High School’s new ag teacher, is not just new to the district but new to the state. She recently moved here from Kentucky.

Elder graduated from the University of Kentucky in May with a degree in agriculture education and a minor in animal science.

She explained that she found out about the open position from Fairmont’s former ag teacher, Amber Seibert. Elder said there is an ag education discussion group on Facebook, where educators from across the country post curriculum ideas.

“I saw Amber had posted her job and I had never been to Minnesota but I asked her about it,” Elder said. “She talked to me for almost two hours about the program. It was a good conversation. She said this is a really good town and I believed her.”

Seibert advised Elder to email Superintendent Joe Brown and apply if she was interested.

“That night I applied and submitted it at about 11:30. The next morning at about 7:30 Joe called me,” Elder said.

Later that day, she talked to high school co-principal Jake Tietje on the phone and, a few hours later, she interviewed for the job over Zoom, was offered it and accepted it right away.

“It all happened so fast but it was really good,” Elder said.

She came with her parents in the middle of June and met several teachers and administrators at the school. She officially moved to Fairmont in the last week with her dog, Iris.

While in college, Elder was able to student teach at a high school, where she taught some ag business and greenhouse classes. The experience got her excited to teach in Fairmont and utilize the greenhouse.

“I love teaching a little bit of everything. You can get the students involved in everything. There’s something for every student, but they may not know it yet,” Elder said, laughing.

She has plans to work with hanging baskets, and she would like to introduce students to succulents and jade trees. She is also interested in animal science classes.

Elder grew up on a dairy and tobacco farm in Fancy Farm, Kentucky. The town has a population of about 450 people.

“We had Jersey cows until I was 5 and then we sold out of them but we kept tobacco. Tobacco is a really hard crop. No one grows tobacco up here. It’s definitely rewarding and teaches you a lot of work ethic,” she said.

Elder said she and her siblings grew up helping their father, topping tobacco in the middle of the summer heat.

She was in 4-H when she was younger and she showed Jersey cows. When she got to high school, she joined FFA. Once she graduated high school, her parents gave her two Jersey calves, which she continued to show throughout college.

Most of her family is still in Kentucky, but Elder said they were supportive of her moving to Minnesota.

“I think it’s important to see other places and impact other people. Everything fell into place and I didn’t see any red flags. I love it up here,” Elder said.

In addition to teaching ag classes, Elder will take over as the FFA adviser for Fairmont’s program.

Superintendent Joe Brown said, “I think she’s going to take a good program and make it better.”

Fairmont’s ag program was reborn during the 2012-2013 school year. Seibert built it up and, several years later, got the FFA program started. Seibert recently took a job up north, closer to her hometown.

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