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Balancing Act Two Agriculture Teachers Share How They Balance Their Career with Their Personal Lives

 Balancing Act: Two Agriculture Teachers Share How They Balance Their Career with Their Personal Lives

 

If there is a casualty in Desirae Weber’s ongoing battle to master her jam-packed calendar, it’s the laundry.

“Laundry at our house?” says the agriculture teacher from Platte Valley, Colo. “It just kind of eventually happens. I usually try to start a load before I leave in the morning, then get to it when I get to it.”

For the active, married mother of a 19-month-old boy, it’s a sacrifice she’s more than willing to make. Weber would rather make time for the things she enjoys—an ambitious agenda that isn’t for the faint of heart.

In addition to her regular duties at Platte Valley High School, the new mom presides over an active chapter of 110 kids and, along with her husband, is a youth pastor at her church—a position that requires attendance at services on Sundays and Tuesdays, and teaching a class on Wednesday nights. Weber’s husband, also a teacher, is the head wrestling coach at the high school and rides bulls in a pro rodeo circuit.

At least Weber knows when she’s coming and going, even if onlookers might not. “I’m a huge calendar person,” she says. “I know what I’m doing even until next May.”

In addition to knowing where she’s headed at all times, Weber knows who’ll be along for the ride: her family. “Go together,” she says. “That’s our motto.” And if they can’t do it together, Weber says it’s probably something not worth doing.

She says it helps that her husband shares in her interests and he in hers, and that the couple splits the domestic workload, 50-50.

“We just kind of make it happen, and we’ve gotten very good at multi-tasking,” Weber says. “I’m lucky that my husband is willing to do anything and everything: breakfast, diapers, bathing—whatever it takes. And I’m the same way.

“This is our lives. This is what we love to do. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Trisha Hunter, a teacher from Sioux County in Harrison, Neb., has an equally hectic life. She’s married with three children—ages 2, 4 and 6—and, in addition to teaching, helps her husband tend to 400 head of cattle on a family ranch established in 1885. And, to get to school from her home in South Dakota, Hunter must drive at hour on dirt roads with her kids in tow. That means the gang needs to be up, dressed, fed and out the door by 6:30 a.m.

She said she used to be like Weber and admires anyone who can keep that schedule. But for Hunter and her family to be happy, she says they need to set aside time for themselves to recharge and refocus.

“I’ve been doing this for nine years now, and I’ve seen a lot of people in this profession burn out,” she says. “It’s a lot to put on your plate. When I first started, I wanted to set the world on fire, but I eventually realized there are only so many hours in a day. So, you do the best that you can do, and that’s all anyone can ask of you.”

It’s crucial, she says, to take advantage of peer support in the agricultural education community. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of that help, she advises.

Hunter says it helps to have a supportive husband and teach in a small community where everyone is pulled by similar demands.

“We have a small school—22 kids—and I think all but two are in our chapter,” she says. “The nice thing is that people around here understand that we are too small to be good at everything. So, we pick a few things out and do them really well instead of trying to take on everything and end up doing a crappy job.”

Hunter says a lot of her free time is occupied by working on the ranch. And though she finds fulfillment and solace in performing many of those duties, it got to a point where it felt like she and her family were working all of the time. So this summer the family built an arena where they could ride their horses and spend time together (everyone, including the toddler, has a horse) roping on the weekends.

“It’s important, I think, to take a break,” she says. “It seemed like we were working all of the time. We still work a lot, but now we’re finding ways to enjoy ourselves a little more.”

Even if it’s just an hour or so of quiet time.

“Most of the day, my husband doesn’t see anything but cows, and I don’t see anything but kids,” says Hunter. “So, after our kids go to bed, it’s nice to sit down and have an adult conversation.”