August 2018 Young Alum of the Month

Name: Bridget Mahoney

Hometown: Williamsburg, Iowa

Degree: (‘09 animal science, ag and life sciences education, ‘11 MS ag and life sciences education)

Title and Company: Agriculture Teacher and FFA Adviser, Lone Tree Community School District, Lone Tree, Iowa

Bridget Mahoney was born and raised in Williamsburg, Iowa, and still calls Williamsburg home. In 2009, Mahoney graduated from Iowa State with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and ag and life sciences education and earned a master’s in ag and life sciences education in 2011. This year will be Mahoney’s eighth year as an ag educator at Lone Tree Community Schools.

Q: What gets you excited about ag education?

A: Between classes, conventions, contests and county fairs, I spend so much time with the students that my job becomes about more than just teaching agriculture. It’s about the life lessons of responsibility, hard work and professionalism. My most rewarding moment as an ag educator occurred when a graduating senior wrote me a thank you letter stating that I made her confident in being who she was. Even though this student did not end up pursuing a career path in agriculture, knowing I made a difference in her life made a difference in mine.

Q: Where can you be found during the summer?

A: Summer months require a lot of preparation for the upcoming school year. I hold a retreat for my FFA officers as well as attend many professional development events and CASE Curriculum trainings. A lot of hours go into the month of June preparing for Career Development Events (CDEs) where I take my students to compete in areas such as floriculture, horse judging and ag mechanics. When the county and state fairs are in session I am there as well. Whether it be helping students with their projects, volunteering my time or watching the show; fair time is always busy. During the Iowa State Fair you can find me with my other FFA Adviser colleagues running the FFA Beef Shows.

A lot of my summer also is dedicated to helping new teachers in the ag education profession. Along with my fellow ag teacher colleagues, we have developed a mentoring program for new ag teachers in Iowa to be paired with veteran teachers in their area. This is in hopes to keep more new teachers in the profession.

Q: What is your Iowa State Fair food go-to?

A: It doesn’t get much better than the dairy barn ice cream!

Q: What would be your ideal way to spend a free day?

A: I spend every free moment I get back home on the farm helping my dad and brother. Each of us has our own specialty within the operation. My brother has a custom hay business, and since 2004, I have been a certified ultrasound technician for carcass information on cattle. Our main operation is our herd of purebred Angus cattle. We also produce organic row crop primarily corn and soybeans as part of a crop share agreement with my uncle and cousins. It definitely keeps us busy!

Q: What was your favorite ISU experience?

A: Besides VEISHEA, I really enjoyed my time in Block & Bridle where I was able to travel to numerous conventions as well as take on leadership roles as our club’s CALS Council representative. This position helped me stay connected to the college and have a voice within the student body.

Q: What ISU professor made the biggest impact on your life?

A: Dr. Mike Retallick (professor and chair of Agriculture Education and Studies) was by far the most impactful professor I encountered while at Iowa State. He saw the potential in me to become an ag educator that I couldn’t see in myself.

Q: What advice do you have for those pursuing an ag education teacher certification degree?

A: We need more ag educators! Don’t be tempted by jobs with nine-to-five hours, no weekends, evenings or summer responsibilities. The feeling you get from being a teacher and adviser to these students is more rewarding than money could ever be. Hearing a student say, “ag isn’t for me,” and then watching them find their own special niche within the industry makes the long hours worth it.