Don Sturgeon did not start out to be a vocational agricultural teacher. More than 40 years ago, he was attending Vincennes University working on an associate degree in agriculture when a family friend talked him into attending Purdue. There he became interested in ag education; and, in 1974, began his career as a Vo Ag instructor at Hagerstown High School. “Back then all we taught was production agriculture,” he told HAT. Agriculture and agriculture education changed a lot over the next 4 decades, “Today we teach more science, business, and leadership.” Sturgeon added the FFA leadership development is so important, “Because, if we don’t develop the leaders in agriculture, no one else will.”
Sturgeon said, looking back, there have been many things of which he is proud. “My biggest accomplishment is producing productive citizens,” he says. “Both FFA and ag classes are a tool to do that. It’s rewarding when you’re in town at a bank or somewhere and you see former students who are leading productive lives. You hope maybe you had a little something to do with how they turned out.” He recalled at one point several years ago he had 13 of his former students at Purdue studying agriculture, “I was pretty excited about that.”
He told HAT today’s ag students have to view agriculture from a global perspective, “They view agriculture as part of a world economy, not what just happens in this area.” He added that keeping up with advances in technology in agriculture is the real challenge for students today, “What was cutting edge technology 5 years ago is obsolete today.”
Congratulations to Don Sturgeon on a great legacy and contribution to Indiana agriculture. He will be honored with a special program at Hagerstown High School on June 4.