Fields hopes to build a strong Climax Springs ag program from the ground up

Joyce Miller
newsroom@lakesunonline.com

The Future Depends on Teachers One year ago, the unthinkable happened — our nation’s schools had to shut their doors. The COVID-19 pandemic hit our K-12 teachers hard. Yet despite incredible challenges, our teachers are innovating and rising to meet this new reality head-on. One of the lessons that really hit home as a result of the pandemic was how critical teachers are to our educational and economic recovery. Over the course of this week, the Lake Sun will feature stories of teachers around the lake and the importance they hold within their districts.

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Joni Fields holds her honorary state FFA degree.

There’s never a dull moment when the day is filled with wrangling 30 agriculture students and a growing FFA Chapter.

Joni Fields was undaunted when she took on the task of creating a new program for the Climax Springs School District two years ago. After seven years teaching in a small district, similar in size to Climax Springs, Fields felt confident she was ready to take on building a program from the ground up, introducing high school students to agriculture and FFA.

Two years later, Fields has 30 students enrolled in agriculture classes and another 15 who are taking part in FFA. 

Just last month, Fields, herself, was awarded an honorary degree by the Missouri FFA for her dedication and the Climax Springs High School FFA Chapter was awarded the Chapter Award and will now compete on the national level. 

Fields credits the success of her efforts to her high school ag teacher and FFA advisor. His presence and support were the inspiration that challenged her to pursue a degree in education and to introduce students to the impact agriculture has on our lives. It was from him she learned the importance of being there for her students not just in the classroom but also in their other school activities. 

“No two days are the same, I like seeing the students learning as they push outside their comfort zone,” she said.”I like being in a small district where I get more one-on-one time with students, I really get to know the kids and their families. You have time to give students.”

Fields said she enjoys the challenges of teaching. It isn’t always easy and it’s a lot of work and effort “but you look past that and realize it is a really good gig,”

The job at Climax Springs was an opportunity that literally fell in her lap at the right time. 

“I had had some life changes happen about a month before this opening came along. I had a close friend tell me that she thought I should look into it...so I did. I inquired on a Friday night and by Thursday night I was going to be a Cougar for the 2019-2020 school year,” she said. 

Her top priorities are to just make certain that I give the students a good solid agricultural foundation in the classroom, create a good work ethic using the Supervised Agriculture Experience Programs and an opportunity to try new things and earn recognition through the FFA. 

Fields grew up in the small rural community of Paris, MO. She was a town kid that spent much of her time on her grandparent's farm where she spent time riding horses or "helping" her grandfather and uncle in their Harness Shop. 

“I am a product of Monroe County 4-H and the Paris FFA Chapter. I was fortunate to be a Junior in High School when Paris decided to reinstate their Agriculture Program and FFA Chapter,” Fields said. 

She went on to get her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education at Northwest Missouri State University. She began her career in northwest Missouri in the town of Fairfax for 7 years and spent the last 4 years in Madison, MO.