Farm Talk

September 26, 2012

Giving back to the community with agriculture

by Danielle Beard

Parsons, Kansas — by Danielle Beard

“It’s all just part of the job. Girard Agriculture Education Instructor, Joe Curran, humbly said. “Any other ag teacher could have easily received this award as well.”

Curran was recently named as the 2012 affiliate recipient of the Outstanding Teacher in Community Service from the Kansas Association for Career and Technical Education (K-ACTE).

Curran’s 23 years of teaching experience as an agriculture eduction instructor and an FFA advisor have brought him back to Girard High School, the same school he, himself graduated from in 1985.

“It’s been great being back here, in a community I already know, and getting to raise my children here,” he says.

Curran and his wife Kim are both graduates of Kansas State University, where two of their five children are currently attending.

Curran credits programs like FFA and 4-H for giving many kids, as well as his own, a good foundation for life.

“Teaching ag has given me the opportunity to watch kids grow and mature, make new choices, and expand their horizons,” he explains.

Curran teaches animal science, agriculture fabrication, agriculture construction, and horticulture.

Since he began his teaching career in 1989, Curran  has been a member of the Kansas Association of Agriculture Educators (KAAE), National Association of Agriculture Educators (NAAE), Kansas Association for Career and Technical Education, (K-ACTE) and Association of Career and Technical Educators (ACTE).

An active member in his community, he serves on the Crawford County Fair Board, the Kansas Livestock Association as a county director, National Cattlemen’s Association, the Wildcat District Extension, Farm Bureau, member of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, and the Knights of Columbus.

Since 1991, Curran has served KAAE on the state legislative committee, and the mentoring committee since 2006. Along with attending eight Region II Conferences, he actively participated in planning and promoting the conferences hosted by the Kansas membership.

Since he began his career he has never missed a CTE Summer Conference and accredits the conference for sending him back to the classroom with a refreshed positive attitude each fall.

Curran says that time spent with colleagues during conferences and meetings is where great ideas are exchanged to make attendees better educators.

“I don’t know if there is any one program I’m involved in that makes me more of a community service leader,” Curran said. “Being involved with FFA, you become involved in a little bit of everything.”

Curran credits the success of Girard High School’s 130 plus student agriculture program to having two teachers.

“The kids are who really benefit from  a multi-teacher program,” he says. “I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things for our program if it wasn’t for our other ag teacher.”

Curran says Girard’s other ag teacher, Alan Boultinghouse and himself are able to divide up their strengths and time, which gives the kids the opportunity to get more out of the classroom and out of FFA.

Another fun fact about Curran, he has a published book.

“It’s more of a book you’d buy in a feed store, as opposed to a book store,” he jokes. “That’s just more of the audience it’s geared toward.”

The book, “One More Clean Shirt,” is a compilation of stories and jokes.

“I love to tell jokes and stories,” he says. “When my kids were little I used to tell them bedtime stories, then I began telling stories and jokes to relate in the classroom to what I was teaching. Then one February during snow days I sat down and wrote my stories, it only took me three days to write the entire book.”

Curran says being nominated for this award was an honor.

“I’m not normally one to brag but I felt honored that someone thought enough of me to take the time to nominate me,” he explains.

According to Curran, he does appreciate the light it’s shed on Girard’s ag program and all the hard work the kids do for the community.

“This ag program is a strong ambassador to the strength and support of the community,” Curran says.

“I enjoy giving back to a community that gave me so much,” he says. “I can’t imagine teaching anywhere else or any other subject. It’s been a good life.”£