Agriculture and manufacturing are at the core of southwest Minnesota’s economy, and Jackson County Central ag teacher Adam Manderfeld is gearing up to help his students snag their places in those sectors.
Manderfeld, a Faribault County native with a passion for farming and woodworking, raised dairy cattle and goats as a kid, working on his parents’ farm and doing 4-H projects throughout his school years. In college, he initially wanted to go into agricultural technology, but his wife, Hunter, convinced him to try ag education.
It turned out to be just what he was looking for.
“I met my wife and she encouraged it, so I gave it a go,” Manderfeld said. “I graduated in 2018, had a couple of substitute teaching jobs and then taught in Sleepy Eye.”
He wanted to broaden his horizons, teach more classes and farm on the side, so Jackson County turned out to be a good fit. After moving to Lakefield, he got ready for a new school year in a new environment.
“My wife’s family farms, so I get to help with that, which I enjoy,” he said. “It’s a different opportunity and a new area to grow.”
Getting to use some of the special technology at the high school is also high on his list. For Manderfeld, learning is just as important as teaching in the position.
“I’ve taught welding, but I haven’t used the foundry and some of the other unique machines I’ll be working with,” Manderfeld said. “I’m really excited to do it, but I’m a bit nervous too.”
Over the past year, Manderfeld, like other teachers — and their students — had to get accustomed to distance learning and hybrid learning. Being able to be in person is something he’s looking forward to, along with teaching welding and small engine classes.
“I’m looking forward to being in person full-time,” he said. “I taught small engines courses, so I’m looking forward to teaching those again, along with welding, which I enjoy.”
As a career and technical education teacher, Manderfeld understands local businesses like AGCO and Kozy Heat need people with the skills to handle industrial work, and he wants to make sure his students are ready to hit the ground running once they graduate.
“We’ve talked as a department and as staff about figuring out what they community needs, especially on the industrial side of things, since we have so much manufacturing in the area,” Manderfeld said.
Ultimately, he’ll get to do what he loves most — teaching kids and spending time in the shop — all year and learning plenty of new thigs along the way.
“I love being in the shop, building and trying new things,” he said. “When you’re with the kids, you get to watch them grow, and seeing students be successful is something I really enjoy.”