FFA Spotlight: FFA Advisor Nick Schiltz
I’m Nick Schiltz, Agriculture Teacher/FFA Advisor at Austin High School and Agriculture Instructor at Riverland Community College.
I grew up near Glenville, and graduated from Northwood-Kensett High School. My father and I farm near Myrtle. I enjoy spending my fall, spring, and summer seasons on the farm planting, hauling grain, baling hay, and harvesting with my father.
I am a seventh generation Schiltz farmer and I am lucky enough to still do it. There are no better days than those spent on the farm. I am in my first year at Austin High School serving as the Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor. I am not new, however, to the teaching profession. A teacher on accident, if you will, I started my career teaching at South Dakota State University as a first year agronomy graduate student pursuing my Master’s Degree.
My major advisor walked in my room one morning and asked if I would teach for him. I remember walking to class thinking, “I’ve always enjoyed helping students learn. It will be fun to be on the other side of the classroom for once.”
When I left, many students were very appreciative and said I should keep teaching. I remember meeting with some of my friends for lunch and just thinking how great that experience was. I moved across the SDSU biology department teaching laboratory sections of general botany, soil microbiology, and courses in corn and soybean production to gain more experience.
Vividly, I remember times when my professors would approach me moments before class and ask if I would teach for them that day – a class I was enrolled in!
I currently also serve as the Agricultural Instructor at Riverland Community College and Program Coordinator to the Center for Agricultural and Food Science Technology. I oversee the summer Riverland Science Technology Engineering Preparatory (R-STEP) Academy and STEM Comes Alive Boot Camp programs.
Both of these programs afford opportunities for leadership and career development skills for our area youth and enhance STEM opportunities for those students.
I am honored to teach students agriculture, food, and natural resources (AFNR). My mother taught high school special education at Northwood-Kensett for 41 years and then at Albert Lea Area Schools up until her last day of life. I saw how my mother interacted with students and the impact she had on them and that resonated with me. I always wanted to do that too.
I combined my mother’s talents with my dad’s operation of the family farm and became an Agriculture teacher. In high school, I was not involved with FFA and hardly took any agriculture courses until my senior year of high school. I hope that I can show students the opportunities they can have to feed, fuel, and cloth the world. There is always anopportunity for you in agriculture.
One of the last conversations my mother and I ever had was how she told me that I should look into teaching at a high school one day. I wish she were here today. I was very lucky to have had amazing teachers in high school – I hope I can have the same effect on my students that they did for me.
In my spare time, I enjoy restoring old tractors. I have restored a Farmall C, 400, Super M, and 560 (pictured above), running marathons (I have ran over 15 in my life), CrossFit, and collecting autographed NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL cards. I also enjoy spending time with my friends – most of whom are teachers now, so it is fun to look back at when we were little and now see us teaching.
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