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K-State Today

September 9, 2016



Harbstreit eyes end of career that has spanned a half century

By Pat Melgares

Steve Harbstreit remembers the days when a little encouragement from a seventh grade agriculture teacher in Indiana and later a high school agriculture teacher in Missouri spurred him on to a career of serving others.

Nearly a half century later, Harbstreit has carved out quite a legacy in Kansas for serving agricultural education, having directly taught, mentored or graduated 128 of the current 223 teachers in the state.

Harbstreit, an associate professor in the Kansas State University College of Agriculture, recently announced that he will retire in January 2017. He has taught agricultural education at the university since 1987.

During his time in Kansas, agricultural education has grown from about 160 sites to more than 200 teachers and 185 programs. Harbstreit notes that the number of high school students in agricultural education grows consistently, and agricultural education is becoming more common in urban areas.

Harbstreit notes that a hallmark of the Kansas State University program is that he and others interact with graduates throughout their professional career.

Harbstreit grew up in southern Indiana and Missouri where he participated in 4-H and FFA. He earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural education from the University of Missouri in 1971, a masters degree in education from Northwest Missouri State University in 1977, and a doctoral degree from the University of Missouri in 1987.

He also taught high school agricultural education in northwest Missouri for 13 years.

He is a member of the American Association for Agricultural Education; the National Association of Agricultural Educators and Kansas Association of Agricultural Educators; and the Association of Career and Technical Education and Kansas Association of Career and Technical Education, the latter of which recently honored Harbstreit with a Lifetime Achievement award.

Harbstreit also received notice that he will receive the VIP award from the National FFA organization at its national convention in October.

In retirement, Harbstreit said he plans to travel, spend time with family… and keep on serving others. He has plans to work on a national curriculum for agricultural mechanics, and he'd like to lead workshops for teachers.