For Ed Terry, teaching young people about agriculture isn’t just a profession. It’s also a passion he’s cultivated for half a century.
Terry, who was instrumental in launching the Randolph FFA more than 40 years ago, celebrates 50 years of sharing ag education in 2020. Along with serving as a part-time agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at Randolph High School in Randolph, Minn., Terry continues to work on his family’s 150-year-old dairy farm – a role he always planned to take on but never imagined he’d couple with teaching.
“When I graduated from high school, there was not an opportunity to work on my family’s farm,” says Terry, who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1968. “I really loved both agriculture and FFA, so I decided to become an ag teacher.”
Terry’s teaching career began in Farmington, Minn., where he taught full time for six years. After his father retired in the mid-1970s, Terry returned to the farm, but it wasn’t long before he was back in the classroom, too.
“In 1977, Randolph High School asked me to help start its FFA program and come teach part time,” Terry says. “I said no over and over again, but they eventually wore me down. I said I’d do it for a year, just to help them get started, and now, all these years later, the local joke is that I’m a slow starter. The truth is, my students become like family to me, and seeing them grow as individuals, develop a sense of responsibility and turn into young professionals is a true privilege.”
Terry’s dedication has helped the Randolph FFA grow to include nearly 150 members, a significant feat for a small community of about 450 residents. Among those members is Reese Nordling, who represents the third generation of Nordlings to sit in Terry’s classroom.
“I taught Bob Nordling when I was in Farmington, and he made sure his son, TJ, was one of my students at Randolph High School several years later,” says Terry, who has taught 40-plus American FFA Degree recipients and has helped his chapter raise more than $350,000 for a local charity. “To now have TJ’s daughter, Reese, in class and as part of the Randolph FFA is an incredible honor.”
Now building a career in production agriculture, TJ says his time with Terry helped him solidify his post-high school plans and put him on a path toward success.
“My time in the Randolph FFA truly changed the outlook of my future, and Mr. Terry was a big influence in my life,” TJ says. “Mr. Terry makes ag education a hands-on experience and teaches students responsibility and leadership skills, so I couldn’t be more thrilled that my daughter is getting to learn from him, as well.”