Veteran high school educator Lisa Paxton has been named chair of the agriculture program at Ivy Tech Community College’s Kokomo Region. Paxton served as an agricultural science and business teacher and Future Farmers of America (FFA) adviser at Tippecanoe Valley High School for 30 years. For six years, she has taught dual credit classes there, offering undergraduate, post-secondary credit for high school students through Ivy Tech, Purdue University, and Vincennes University. She has served as an adjunct instructor at Ivy Tech, developing curriculum and instruction in five courses, including introductory courses in crop science and agriculture economics.
Paxton, with her husband, also has 20 years of experience as owner/operator of Paxton Farms near Silver Lake, Ind., where she and her family produce row crops and broiler chickens. Paxton Farms was recognized with a “2013 River Friendly Farmer Award” at the Indiana State Fair for environmentally friendly land management practices in Kosciusko and Fulton counties. Paxton has taken an active leadership role in a number of professional organizations and has extensive community service activities. She has been honored as the outstanding agriculture teacher at both the district and state level.
Raised on a crop and livestock farm in Wabash County, Paxton said she learned at a very young age the value of producing food, then for a local market and now for a global one. After graduating from Northfield High School, she went on to Purdue University where she decided on a career in agricultural education.
“I believe it’s very important that we appreciate the food supply and that the agriculture industry gives the consumer an opportunity to choose the food products that meet their needs. Teaching is the way I chose to share that philosophy,” Paxton said. “In my new role, I want to help Ivy Tech students gain the education and experience they need to be successful in the agricultural industry in whatever fashion they choose.
“Actual farmers only account for about 2 percent of the people involved in the agriculture industry,” she noted. “The field offers a huge range of opportunities for jobs and careers.”
Agriculture is one of the largest sectors of Indiana’s economy with a $20 billion annual impact and as this sector becomes more high-tech, the need for trained college graduates in agriculture is increasing. The agriculture program at Ivy Tech engages students in hands-on activities in and outside of their classrooms while preparing them for real-world agriculture careers. The program focuses primarily on animal science, plant and soil science, agriculture equipment, and agriculture sales and business.
In the program, students are exposed to various areas in the agriculture industry through field experiences and professional guest speaker presentations. Partnerships with industry organizations such as the Indiana FFA, John Deere, Case IH, Indiana Department of Education, and the United States Department of Agriculture enhance the student experience.
The program offers a variety of Associate of Applied Science degrees and Associate of Science transfer degrees. Graduates of the agriculture program can enter directly into the agriculture workforce in competitive-paying careers or they may transfer to four-year partners of Ivy Tech, including such universities as Purdue, Indiana State, Illinois State, Trine, Huntington, and Colorado State on-line, and the regional campuses of Indiana University.