Donavan Phoenix grew up on a hobby farm near the City of Hayfield where his family raised varied livestock, including cattle and Boer goats as well as operating a greenhouse.

He was involved in FFA while in high school where he saw success in events such as FFA Creed speaking (third in state), public speaking (third in state) and forestry (state participant).

Phoenix also developed leadership skills while he served as an officer holding different positions at the chapter as well as the regional level.

“I grew tremendously through that experience,” said Phoenix, adding there are so many opportunities available to students through FFA.

Now Phoenix is sharing that same message with students at Redwood Valley High School where he is working as an agricultural education teacher.

For Phoenix, who earned a degree in agriculture education from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall this past spring, being an ag teacher in a community like Redwood Falls is an ideal situation.

After all, he said this area is in the heart of farm country.

“People place a higher emphasis on agriculture here,” said Phoenix. “Here ag education is not an afterthought.”

While most teachers officially start in the classroom on what is the first day of school, Phoenix had the chance to get involved over the summer taking part in programming and learning more about the local ag community.

What he quickly discovered is that the local ag business community is very supportive of the ag education program. That, he said, solidified his belief that coming to teach in the local school district was a very good decision.

Phoenix is teaching a variety of subjects as an ag educator, including everything from small engines to carpentry. 

Phoenix was able to work at Schult Homes in Redwood Falls over the summer as a way to help build some of the skills he would be teaching in class, and he said that also gave him a good chance to network with people in the community and develop resources.

In addition, Phoenix is serving as a co-advisor of the Redwood Valley FFA Chapter working with current ag education teacher and FFA co-advisor, Lisa Orren.

Phoenix said as a student he had an ag teacher who had an impact on him and was influential on his decision to become an ag education teacher.

“I saw the lives he changed,” Phoenix said, adding he wants to make that kind of difference in the lives of students, too.

Phoenix said things have been going well at Redwood Valley, adding he really likes his role in the local district.

“I’m really enjoying it,” he said. “The community has been very welcoming.”

Whether he is helping students build sawhorses or he is serving as an advisor for a career or leadership development experiences, Phoenix appreciates the opportunity he has to work in the local school district.