“One of the joys of being an agriculture teacher is helping students figure out what their future career looks like,” said Jeff Bash, Ag teacher at Spoon River College.

Laurel Keyt of Hanna City is one of those students. Keyt currently works full-time at the Jubilee Café in Kickapoo and enjoys the job, but her heart is leading her back to her roots. That has led her back to Spoon River College, this time with a clear vision of her future career.

“Laurel came to SRC out of high school and wasn’t able to determine what her future looked like. She stepped back and took a few years off, and then came back, very determined to become a high school agriculture teacher.”

On track to complete her remaining SRC classes in the spring semester, Keyt will then transfer to WIU to major in Ag education, and she’s excited for the day when she’ll be the teacher in the classroom. “I anticipate teaching at the high school level, but would also like the opportunity to reach out to students not yet in high school. Early exposure to ag education is a great way to build up high school ag programs. The earlier you get them excited, the better.”

Keyt will be focusing on a bachelor’s degree when she enrolls at WIU and currently doesn’t have a desire to teach at the college level, but earning a master’s degree one day is on her list “just because I’m a believer in life-long learning.”

Besides a new career to look forward to, Keyt’s heart is leading her back to her roots in another way. “My parents still operate the farm where I was raised, and now my husband Justin and I are currently in the process of joining my late great-grandpa’s farm partnership and taking on a major role with it.”

Keyt noted that her grandmother and great-uncle were ready to hand over the physical labor required in a farming operation. “At one time, the farm had livestock. While we currently rent our pasture out, we would eventually like to run our own cattle again on the family land.”

The excitement Keyt feels, for both her future career and for getting back to the land, is obvious, even though she’s aware of the hard work ahead. “It can be overwhelming to think about the labor required for the farm as well as attending school, but I know it will work out and will be worth all the hard work.”

For Bash, it’s not just a joy to help a student find their future, it’s part of his job. “That’s what we do here in the agriculture program at Spoon River College.”

A Return to College with a New Focus
A Return to College with a New Focus

Spoon River College Ag student Laurel Keyt poses with her replica of a 50-head feedlot shipping and sorting pen layout for her Animal Science class taught by Jeff Bash. The assignment? Create a farm related structure using a design by Temple Grandin, a well-known animal behaviorist (and autism activist) who has set the standard for designing humane live-stock handling facilities that aid in keeping the animals calm as they pass through the chutes.