Brandon Thurk grew up in town.

Yet, when the 2018-19 school year began, he was teaching ag education for students in the Redwood Area School District.

Having graduated from Heron Lake-Okabena High School in 2014, Thurk went on to the University of Minnesota where he earned a degree in ag education this past May.

Now he is teaching a variety of classes from wildlife management - small game to small engines as well as a Freshman Academy introduction class.

As the year progresses he will be offering different classes, adding in some ways he is serving as a bridge between the ag education and industrial technology education programs in the local district.

While Thurk did not grow up in a farm, he had lots of exposure to the world of agriculture, whether it was on his grandparents dairy farm or through the school’s FFA chapter.

Thurk said it was during his senior year at the national FFA convention that he had his eyes opened to the broad world that is agriculture and the many possibilities there were when it came to ag careers.

Although Thurk was undecided about his future initially, he did know he was interested in coaching, and he felt becoming a teacher would give him the best chance to do that.

While in college, Thurk said he learned the basics of a variety of subject areas, which he will be able to use as an educator in the local district.

Thurk said he was contacted by the local district about the possibility of coming to serve as a teacher. One of the things that appealed to Thurk was the new addition known as the Estebo Career Development and Training Center and the commitment to technical classes. He believes the addition is going to provide students with a lot of great opportunities.

Thurk said he was one of only a handful of students pursuing a degree in ag education, adding he knows the demand for people in that area is high. 

In addition to teaching in the classroom, Thurk is also going to serve as the co-advisor for the FFA program, adding he will be working with students in various career exploration areas.

When he was in FFA, Thurk was part of the meats judging team, and he is hoping to start one of those at Redwood Valley.

Thurk is also going to be coaching junior high basketball this winter, adding he sees the opportunity to coach as a chance to help students who are focused on individual success in the classroom to find the value in working together with others as part of a team.

The son of Chris and Jodi Thurk said his experience in the local district has been a positive one so far.

It is his hope as a teacher to emulate one of his high-school English teachers who created a great classroom atmosphere and was able to develop connections with students on a personal level.