Tess Hamby grew up on a beef, wheat and hay farm in Eastern Oregon, taking youth agricultural programs like 4-H since she was in the second grade, and the National FFA Organization in high school.
Recently hired by the Astoria School District, Hamby has been tasked with bringing agricultural education back to Astoria High School starting next year.
Dan Foss, the high school’s former shop teacher, retired after more than 30 years with the school district. The district wanted to expand the traditional wood shop into more of a construction trades-based program, while bringing back agricultural education and the local FFA chapter, dormant for about eight years.
Hamby has been spending her summer in professional development, networking with other agricultural teachers and learning more about curriculum. She spent her last week in Sutherlin taking a workshop on wood shop, her first such class since high school.
In the fall, Hamby will begin teaching animal science, plant science, and introduction to agriculture, industrial arts and wood shop, along with a possible FFA leadership class.
Bringing back FFA will take a little longer, Hamby said. She will start at the Clatsop County Fair, meeting local organizers and 4-H students while gauging interest for a class. By the end of the first year, Hamby said, she hopes to have 15 to 20 students involved and a core group of officers.
Hamby has studied agriculture at Blue Mountain Community College, Eastern Oregon University and Oregon State University, where she spent the last year as part of a master’s program in agricultural education. Of the seven graduates from the program this past year, she said, six have already found teaching jobs.
“There’s a need for agricultural teachers,” she said. “A lot of people are coming out of the industry to be (agriculture) teachers.”
The coast is new for Hamby, who said she needs to learn more about local agriculture as she designs her programs. She applied in Astoria in part because she has a friend locally, liked the community atmosphere and was ready for a cooler climate.
“The biggest thing I’ll have to get used to is the rain,” she joked.