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Maple Valley agriscience teacher reflects on 27 years of service

An agriscience teacher says successful FFA programs are as strong as their local community support.

Aaron Saari is the longest-serving agricultural sciences teacher at Maple Valley Public Schools, which is located about 30 minutes southwest of Lansing.

“Kids come in as fresh-faced students and they leave here as young adults all ready take on the world,” he says. “And I think FFA and ag education is a huge aspect in how they develop their leadership skills, how they develop their life skills.”

Saari’s program today includes a livestock barn, two greenhouses, and a 30-acre land lab, which he says would not be possible without dedicated volunteers and alumni support.

“We’ve expanded from doing a few pigs to having 12 pigs out there right now,” he says.  “We have three steers and three calves and typically do 150 chickens in the fall. I also try to utilize the facilities around the school as I teach a natural resources class, we’re pretty adjacent to the Thornapple River.”

Saari says he’s very proud of his students’ success in the classroom, FFA, and in their careers.

“We can only do so much as teachers in high school with the environment that they come from and that type of stuff,” he shares. “It’s our job to open doors up for them.”

Saari was recently named the 2024 Michigan Association of Agricultural Educators’ Outstanding Agricultural Educator for his 27 years in the classroom.

AUDIO: Aaron Saari

Photo courtesy of Michigan FFA.

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