Ag teacher growing program, students

Terra Pigg pursued agriculture education because of her agriculture teacher at George Rogers Clark High School.

Now, Pigg is an ag teacher at GRC.

“I always had a family background in agriculture, grandparents farms and all that,” Pigg said. “I didn’t start gaining a big interest until I got to high school and became an FFA member and took agriculture classes and started to get involved.”

Pigg graduated from GRC in 2008. She went on to study agriculture education at Eastern Kentucky University.

After graduating from EKU in 2012, she started her first job at North Hardin High School in Radcliffe. She taught there for two years and then returned home to teach at GRC in the fall of 2014.

Fair-goers may see Pigg this week as well as many of her students as they are heavily involved in the fair events. Students will have displays set up, showing livestock and selling ice cream as a fundraiser for the ag program.

As an ag teacher, Pigg teaches a variety of classes including ag mechanics, animal science, horticulture, ag business and more.

“You can teach a variety of classes,” Pigg said. “Sometimes, you’re teaching six different classes. And that makes it fun and interesting.”

Along with teaching, Pigg also manages the greenhouse operations.

“We operate a pretty nice greenhouse at the high school where we raise a spring vegetable and flower crop for sale for fundraising,” she said.

On top of that, she is also the FFA adviser.

“That takes up a lot of time,” Pigg said.

Pigg said she does a lot outside of just teaching in the classroom. With FFA, she prepares students to be leaders, and they do a variety of activities including public speaking, showing animals, and more.

“We strive to build students to be future leaders of our community, not necessarily in agriculture, we just want them to be the best leader they can be and citizen even if they’ve never stepped foot on the farm,” Pigg said.

Though with all that Pigg does, it can be challenging finding the time to get everything done that she wants to or needs to, she said.

Outside of work, Pigg runs a beef cattle operation with her husband. She also spends time with her daughter, rides horseback, fishes, camps and spends most of her time outdoors.

Pigg said her favorite part of her job is the students.

“Watching the students have that aha moment or watching them succeed in something is just so rewarding,” she said. “That’s my favorite part.”

While traditional subjects — science, math, English and social studies — may be more difficult for some students, agriculture classes can provide an outlet for them to succeed especially students who may be more hands-on.

“Some of the students we get might be troublemakers for other teachers, but excel in our classroom just where we’re more hands-on and practical and just seeing that student come to life is very rewarding,” Pigg said.

Working at North Hardin High School was eye-opening to Pigg, she said. Most of her students didn’t have prior knowledge about any aspect of agriculture.

“Most of the students I had at North Hardin were very urban,” Pigg said. “They had no idea that food did not just appear on the shelves in the grocery store, that it did start at a farm. So that was fun because the simple things tended to amaze them.

“Incubating eggs and hatching chicks was amazing with students who had never seen it before.”

At GRC, her proudest accomplishment is the growth of GRC’s agriculture department and keeping GRC up-to-date with the latest technology in agriculture such as implementing a hydroponic system in the greenhouse.

“We were able to raise lettuce and show students that plants can be raised in a perfect environment with no soil,” Pigg said. “For most of our students, that was mind-blowing.”

Pigg said she also loves seeing her students excel and find their passions.

“Two years ago at a state convention, we had a young lady from Clark County Langdon Winburn who was elected as a start officer, and that was very rewarding for our department, we had not had one since Shane Wiseman (FFA State reporter, 1993-1994),” Pigg said.

When teaching, Pigg said she tries to be as hands-on as possible.

“This past year for vet science, for example, we practiced giving stitches to tongues,” Pigg said. “I got some pig and beef tongue, and so they got to practice that.”

As for the future, Pigg said she plans to stay at GRC and keep the ag program growing.

“I’d love to see us expand to start growing hydroponic tomatoes which is currently in the works and just keep growing and succeeding as we have,” she said.