It’s easy to tell that Zana Manche has a passion for agricultural education.
In the Goessel schools, where she teaches, 42 students — nearly half of all those eligible— are members of the school’s FFA chapter.
“Our kids live in this rural community, but do not necessarily know about agriculture,” she said. “It is my job to educate smart individuals and motivate them to make a difference.”
Manche grew up on a farm in southeastern Nebraska, attended high school in Hiawatha, then went to Kansas State University.
“When I came to teach at Goessel they had a great reputation in engine troubleshooting and tractor restoration,” she said “That was a bit intimidating. But last year, Lucas Hiebert got reserve grand champion at the State Fair on his restored tractor.”
Most of the classes Manche teaches are electives. The exception is Exploring Agriculture, a class for eighth graders in which basic concepts of agriculture are introduced and many students find out about FFA.
Her animal science class focuses on anatomy and sutures. A second animal science class will emphasize production and growth.
“We actually had calves, cats and dogs at school, and we have the opportunity to visit area veterinarian clinics,” she said.
Manche uses the school’s greenhouse in her horticulture class.
Students get to raise plants and try to sell them near the end of the semester. The class studies floral design, turf management, fertilizer, and nutrients.
In her ag mechanics class, students are likely to learn about electricity, concrete and welding.
“We are lucky to have arc, MIG and TIG welders at Goessel,” Manche said. “A student with a few welding skills will often find a summer job at Bradbury [a machining manufacturer in Moundridge], where they will learn how those skills are used in industry. It is tremendous to have this much industry right around us.”
Manche also teaches an ag business class.
Through FFA, students practice public speaking and build confidence so that when they go into an interview they will present themselves well.
Parliamentary procedure also is taught so running a business meeting will not be foreign to students.
She smiled as she described experiences with formal dining, manners and etiquette.
“If a Goessel student is taken to a nice restaurant by a potential employer, we want them to know which salad fork to use and what is the proper etiquette in this atmosphere.,” she said.
Goessel’s FFA members participate in judging competitions and attend district and national events.
The chapter’s most recent accomplishment was as a finalist for a state “triple crown” award this last week that recognizes achievement in student, chapter, and community development.
“My hope is that whatever path a student takes, they will use the knowledge gained in agriculture classes to be an educated consumer,” Manche said.
In January, Manche, a fifth-year teacher at Goessel, earlier this year won a new teacher of the year award from the Kansas Association of Agricultural Educators.
“I filled out the application hoping to gain some publicity for the school,” she said. “I feel so blessed that my first teaching job was in a school that has faculty and staff that are talented in so many areas — music, athletics and academics. I hope this award will add the tag of agriculture to the accolades for Goessel.”