Most teachers want their students to succeed. One Southern California Ag Teacher wants his students to succeed not only in the classroom but in life. He goes above and beyond to find at least one life skill his students excel in, and then he teaches that skill so when the student graduates, he or she will have an expertise for which to make a living with.
“I think everybody has their own talent,” said Marc Reyburn, Escondido High School Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor. “For some that might be in a classroom, others that might be out on the farm, or working with livestock or out in the shop. There is definitely talent in every student. You just have to find that, and once you find that, you can engage them and make them successful in life. Plus, you can turn them onto other careers or pathways they didn’t know were possible.”
Reyburn, who is in his 14th year of teaching, gets to directly influence nearly 190 students each day in the classes he teaches that range from Ag Biology and Vet Science to Ag Engineering (Shop) and Ag Government to Ag Economics. He said teaching is part of his family’s legacy, as both of his parents are retired teachers. And although, Reyburn never had plans to go into teaching, his participation in and love for the FFA programs, coupled with coaching sports and helping tutor kids after school, led him down this very path.
“When I was involved in FFA throughout high school, I saw what the program could do. I was drawn to the leadership. I loved raising livestock in high school; I loved the competition; l loved the challenge of it all. I swore I’d never be a teacher because both my parents were teachers, but here I am,” he said with a chuckle.
But the teaching talent didn’t stop with Reyburn. His sister is also an Agriculture Teacher with him at Escondido. She specializes in horticulture and floral, so it works out well that they each have their own strengths.
And speaking of his strengths, he is keen on finding the talents of students who are struggling academically and teaching them a skill they can use, such as welding or working with livestock or working in the barn. He picks up on their skills and makes sure to increase their knowledge and their self-confidence simultaneously.
“There are kids that aren’t academically gifted at all, struggling in all their classes. They can come into my shop classes and excel. And I make sure and point them out. I make sure everybody knows this kid’s the best welder, this kid can do this or that. Their confidence sky rockets because they finally found something they are good at after being unsuccessful in other areas in the past. I single those kids out and tell them, if I teach them a skill, they are going to be better off than some of these other kids,” Reyburn said.
The school is fortunate to have the facilities to teach important life skills including a 6-acre farm, with a barn that houses hogs and lambs. The school also raises breeding livestock and hires interns, which gives young people further opportunities with livestock while helping offset the costs for students who want to raise and show livestock. Reyburn also credits the group of Ag Boosters that help ensure these resources are available for the youth who want to learn and want to make a difference.
Although the school was once located in a more rural setting, it is very much in an urban area now. He said when word gets around about the ag program at Escondido and the farm, Reyburn has seen students withdraw from private schools and charter schools just so they can attend Escondido and enroll in his Ag classes.
“They put down their phone and get to work. I run the CDE (Career Development Education) Program like you might run athletics. The kids love it; they get into it,” he said.
One of the projects the students have really enjoyed, according to Reyburn, is hosting a livestock show in the spring, “Friday Night Lights.” The show is on Friday, followed by a clinic conducted by the judges on Saturday, making it an even more educational opportunity for all involved.
He took 100 students and their livestock projects to the San Diego County Fair in July. Reyburn said it was a good feeling to see such tremendous participation from his students when some of the more rural population didn’t show up with similar numbers.
However, it’s his students’ successes after they graduate and continue to use the skills he taught that makes him the proudest. He said he always likes to see where life takes them and appreciates it when the stop by and tell them about their life.
“My favorite thing is when they come back to visit and tell me what they are doing or call me to talk or say thank you for everything they learned in high school,” Reyburn said.
He said he’s had students pursue careers as successful loan officers, veterinarians, and ag teachers.
“This is the most rewarding career because of what you’re doing for the industry, and it’s an industry that is overshadowed, yet the most important. If you can go in and teach these kids, and get them into some type of agriculture career, it does the industry as a whole wonders,” Reyburn said.
Mr. Reyburn, thank you for scouting out talent in today’s young people and making sure they know how to use that talent. You definitely make us #AgProud.