Sioux Falls CTE Academy FFA chapter celebrates inaugural FFA Week

Sioux Falls students reflect on how an agriculture course at the city's CTE Academy is changing the trajectory of their lives.

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Andrew Jensen is the agriculture education instructor and FFA advisor at the Sioux Falls Career and Technical Academy. Fall 2022 was the first school year agriculture education has been offered at Sioux Falls Career and Technical Education Academy. All students from Sioux Falls high schools, as well as some area rural high schools can take agriculture education and other classes offered at this academy.
Contributed / Sioux Falls School District

SIOUX FALLS — During the school year, Amanda Wolf lives with her parents and four siblings in Sioux Falls. But during the summer months, she’s outdoors caring for goats, chickens, rabbits and geese on her aunt’s farm in rural Lincoln County.

“I have a heart for agriculture,” said Wolf, a student at Sioux Falls Roosevelt. “Farming and overall agriculture has been in my family for a long time.”

Over the summer, Wolf is also active in Lincoln County 4-H, competing in livestock judging and showing rabbits, goats, sheep and poultry. Over the years, she’s become friends with other Lincoln County 4-H members, who often shared stories about their high school’s agriculture education classes and FFA programs.

“I used to always be so jealous of my friends in Lennox because they got to go into the show ring for FFA,” Wolf said. “I was actually talking to my aunt and parents about possibly moving out to the farm and going to school in Lennox because they have an ag program over there.”

And then she learned that an agriculture education program and an FFA chapter were starting up at the Sioux Falls School District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) Academy.


“I was like, ‘Yes! This is what I’m into. This is what I am going to sign up for. This is what I love to do,’ and now I don’t have to choose between leaving my family and friends here so I can take ag classes and be in FFA.’”

Fall 2022 was the first school year agriculture education has been offered at the city’s CTE Academy, where all students from Sioux Falls high schools — as well as some other area high schools — can enroll in a variety of more specialized courses.

Amanda Wolf with her FFA teammates Chantelle Meyeraan and Shelby Liesner-Fertig.
Contributed / Sioux Falls School District

Wolf was one of 30 students to enroll in the new agriculture education elective. Each morning, she boards a bus at Roosevelt and heads over to the CTE Academy for the large animal science class. Once that period is up, she’s bused back to Roosevelt to engage with her core classes — geometry, English 2, physical science and child development.

Even though she knew quite a bit about livestock before taking this class, Wolf says she has learned a lot, and that she actually looks forward to Mondays.

“Before this class, I didn’t really want to get up or go to school,” Wolf said. “Now, when my alarm rings every morning, it’s like, ‘All right, let’s get up. Let’s go.’ I actually have fun in school.”

Wolf’s classmate, Paytan Waterman, shares her sentiment.

“This is the highlight of my morning, that’s for sure,” said Waterman, who also attends Roosevelt. “The fact we come to a different school and it’s in a different environment is helpful. It gets you out and moving — also just the fact that Mr. [Andrew] Jensen is a very hands-on teacher, that really helps. He gives us information about the different kinds of cows, swine, horses, goats and sheep, all of that, with all that information and the games we play to remember that is very helpful.”

As part of the course, Jensen had students research an agriculture career of their choosing and create an informational poster. A gallery walk gave students an opportunity to learn from their peers as they reviewed classmates’ posters.


Waterman’s poster focused on the job of a large animal veterinary technician.

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Paytan Waterman checks on chickens during her agriculture education class.
Contributed / Sioux Falls School District

“My plan after high school is to go to STI (now Southeast Technical College) as a vet tech because ever since I was little, I have wanted to do something with animals,” Waterman explained. “This assignment taught me what they do day-by-day. Honestly, I have learned more in this first week of class (about animals) than I have my whole life.”

In addition to learning about agriculture careers and livestock, students have an opportunity to care for animals. The agriculture education facility is home to chickens, quail, fish, a turtle named Stacy and soon a sow ready to farrow.

“I think it is so important that our students get an understanding of what production agriculture is,” Jensen explained.

To help expose this largely urban class of students to the larger livestock they are learning about this semester, Jensen took all classes to the beef and swine shows held at the Sioux Empire Livestock Show in Sioux Falls.

“I want them to see all different aspects of agriculture so they can understand there is a place at the table for everyone in the ag industry,” explained Jensen, who grew up on a farm near Wakonda.

In addition to classroom instruction, Jensen also serves as Sioux Falls’ first FFA Adviser. “When we really think about the city of Sioux Falls, it was really built on agriculture. With the Stockyards and Smithfield and all the other ag industry that is here, it really makes sense that we are doing this,” Jensen said. “If you look at all the large towns and cities in South Dakota, they all have ag programs and FFA – Rapid City, Yankton, Pierre, Brookings.”

Waterman and Wolf are both members of Sioux Falls’ FFA program, which teaches youth leadership and professional development in regard to agriculture. All agriculture education students can participate in the program.


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