Young Alum of the Month – August 2022

Jamie Pudenz’s passion and background in agriculture has led him to a career focused on preparing the next generation of agriculturalists who will find answers to the fuel, fiber and food demands of our planet.

Pudenz (‘17 agricultural studies, ‘19 MS agricultural education) is entering his fourth year as the agricultural sciences instructor and FFA advisor at Aplington-Parkersburg High School in Parkersburg.

Growing up on a diversified grain and livestock farm near Carroll, Pudenz was able to do it all. Not only did he and his family raise corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs, they also operate a tiling business, repair and welding shop and more.Jamie Pudenz shown from the chest up, wearing a black suit, navy shirt and a striped tie.

After graduating from Des Moines Area Community College in 2013 with an associate degree in agribusiness, Pudenz found himself at Iowa State University.

“I journeyed through Iowa State never being totally certain where I would land. In agriculture, we know the possibilities are endless, especially when you graduate from a prestigious agricultural institution like Iowa State. I landed on agricultural education because I honestly wanted to do it all,” Pudenz says.

During his time at Iowa State, Pudenz held several leadership positions in the Professional Agriculture Students organization, Farm Operations Club, Beginning Farmers Network and more. He also went on three different study abroad trips and took part in the Athari Global Leadership Conference.

“Just like my career where I prepare students for life situations, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences provided me with experiences I would never otherwise have had. It has never been what I knew, but who I knew,” Pudenz says. “Placing myself in situations to network, travel and become a young professional is what has made me who I am today and has prepared me to do the same for students at A-P High School.”

In 2020, Pudenz completed an Iowa STEM Teacher Externship with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources at the Big Marsh Wildlife Management Area north of Parkersburg.

“As part of the externship, I was tasked with developing courses that tie to real-world concepts in the placement area. It has helped develop the Natural Resources and Environmental Management Course at A-P by leveraging a partnership with the Iowa DNR. Activities built from this experience include working on wildlife population counts, disease tracking and local flora and fauna identification,” Pudenz says.

In 2021, Pudenz’s agriculture classroom received a 40-gallon aquaculture system, which was obtained from a STEM Scale-Up Program grant. Students in his class have been working on developing a mobile aquaculture system that can be moved from one elementary classroom to another each week to give young students the opportunity to learn more about aquaculture.

“The newest project students at A-P are working on involves Ioponics (Iowa + Aquaponics), which has been developed by Dr. Michael Bechtel, associate professor of science education at Wartburg College. We renamed the project ‘Falcon-Ponics,’ paying homage to our school mascot in conjunction with Ioponics,” Pudenz says.

His commitment to agricultural education and his students has not gone unrecognized. Earlier this year, he was named a recipient of the 2022 Iowa STEM Teacher of the Year Award.

“I recognize that I entered a career where expectations are high and visible rewards for our efforts are not always recognized. Developing a rigorous curriculum, fulfilling community expectations and picking up new responsibilities are battles educators and FFA advisors face on a daily basis,” Pudenz says. “Without the support of administration and community members, this award could not have been made possible. I think it is more of an award for the school’s efforts supporting the agriculture teacher, STEM concepts and students than it is an award to add to personal accolades.”

Pudenz commends the Aplington-Parkersburg administration and community for their support in building and maintaining a successful agricultural education and FFA program.

Along with being recognized for his efforts and success in STEM education, Pudenz was the recipient of the 2022 Iowa Association of Agricultural Educators North Central District Outstanding Young Member Award.

“Currently, more than 40% of Iowa agricultural educators in secondary education are in year five and under in teaching experience,” Pudenz says. “Knowing the kind of enthusiastic and passionate young people that exist in Iowa agricultural education makes this opportunity even more humbling to know I could be considered outstanding by my peers.”