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Agri-Ready Profile: Jeana Curtis makes agriculture education a top priority.

February 21, 2024

4 Min Read
Jeana Curtis with her husband and baby kneeling in a crop field
AG AT HOME: Jeana Curtis was born and raised in La Plata, Mo., in Agri-Ready-designated Macon County. She was one of the original members of the La Plata FFA chapter when it was chartered in 2012, and now serves as the agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at La Plata R-2 High School.Photos courtesy of Jeana Curtis

by Emma Alexander

Jeana Curtis did not let a lack of farm know-how stop her from a career in agriculture education.

Curtis grew up in La Plata, Mo., and was more of an outdoorsy type, rather than an aggie, but when her hometown considered launching an FFA program in 2012, she joined as a charter member.

Thanks to agriculture leadership opportunities through FFA, she says her passion for agriculture grew in high school — so much so that she attended Northwest Missouri State University after graduation and completed an animal science degree with a minor in agriculture business.

However, Curtis entered the industry with a vision in the back of her mind to someday teach agriculture education.

“I had a very finite list of wishes and goals that I wanted to meet if I were to become an agriculture teacher,” she explains. “As I contemplated that career change, all of them became attainable, and I took that as a sign that agriculture education was the way I should go. I applied for and was accepted into a Master of Agriculture Education program.”

Today, Curtis serves as the agriculture instructor and FFA advisor in the very same chapter she helped charter — La Plata R-2 High School. She is thrilled to be planting the seeds of agricultural education in the hearts of students in her hometown.

Educating next gen about ag

In her agriculture classroom, Curtis prepares students with a foundation of agriculture basics.

“I will never forget sitting in a college classroom and hearing ‘there are 56 pounds in each bushel of corn,’ and I thought to myself, ‘What’s a bushel?’” she says. “I want my students to know enough about agriculture that they are prepared to have a conversation with an agriculturist anywhere. I want them to know at least a little about a lot of different things, so that they can go anywhere and be successful.”

Jeana Curtis and FFA members pose on a stage during a national convention

Even after a decade, the chapter still sees opportunities for growth.

“Some members of the La Plata community are still learning that our school has an agriculture program,” Curtis adds. “I work hard so that all members of our community can know the valuable role agriculture education has for our community. Agriculture education and FFA is not just for farm kids, so we reach out and implement activities outside the classroom.”

For Curtis, it is important that everyone in her rural community has the opportunity to understand and appreciate agriculture. For her students, it is encouraging them to try things outside of their comfort zone.

Outside the classroom

“My only regret as an FFA member was backing out of a public speaking contest,” Curtis says. However, she did take part in leadership, networking and speaking opportunities on the pageant circuit, but thought they were “silly.”

“Now I can see how much those experiences helped me gain knowledge and understanding that have made me successful in all my endeavors,” Curtis adds. “I want each of my students to never turn down an interview, to always try something new, to always be preparing themselves for a future opportunity.”

Jeana Curtis, Mrs. United States Agricultre wearing a tiara

She returned to the pageant circuit and held Miss United States Agriculture titles at the county, state, Midwest and national levels.

As Miss United States Agriculture in 2020, she created opportunities to advocate about the diversity of Missouri agriculture. She most recently served as Mrs. United States Agriculture and is currently Missouri Mrs. Agvocate USA.

Around the family farm

Curtis, along with her husband, Colton, operate a row crop and cattle farm in Agri-Ready-designated Macon County. The couple has one daughter, Kaylee.

She continues to build on her experiences to pursue long-term goals that include education outside of the classroom and agriculture policy.

She serves as a member of Missouri Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association and on the Adair/Schuyler County Farm Bureau board of directors, a part of Missouri Farm Bureau Federation.

Alexander writes from Olga, Mo.

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