Shannon Washburn remembers the year 1991 well. As a Kansas State Officer for FFA, he traveled the state with a team of six that presented workshops on leadership, motivation and personal development to fellow FFA members.
The experience, he says, served him well as a high school agricultural education teacher at Hugoton High School in the mid-1990s, and as an instructor at Kansas State University from 1998 to 2001.
In August, Washburn will return to his roots. He has been named the new associate professor of agricultural education at K-State, after six years in a similar position at the University of Florida.
"I'm a product of agricultural education in Kansas," said Washburn, a native of Norton. "I'm thrilled to be getting this opportunity to return to my home state, to the Midwest, and to serve agricultural education in Kansas."
"People in Kansas have a firm appreciation of the agricultural industry," he adds. "Therefore, I think Kansans see the value of agricultural education in the public schools."
Washburn earned bachelor's and master's degrees from K-State in 1995 and 1999, and the doctoral degree from the University of Missouri in 2002.
"We're very excited to have Shannon joining the faculty," says Kris Boone, head of the Department of Communications, which houses the agricultural education program. "His background and his experience are great assets to the university, but even more important, to the agricultural education teachers in Kansas."
Daryl Buchholz, the associate director for Extension and Applied Research at K-State, says Washburn's hiring will benefit Kansas' Extension agents, as well.
"Agricultural education is a natural fit for Extension agent [professional] development, and his experience… will bring great benefits to both the College of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension," Buchholz says.
In addition to his teaching duties, Washburn has conducted research to understand factors that help teachers stay in the profession; and studies that have helped develop agricultural curriculum in Egypt and Haiti.
But, he says, Kansas is home.
"I've been a long way from home for a very long time," he says. "We are looking forward to being back, close to family, and working with teachers in Kansas."