As a high school student at Harlingen High School, Joseph Stevens can remember being inspired by two teachers to exceed expectations and stay on the right path. Now, he is helping students in the same way.
Stevens is the lead Agricultural Science teacher at Harlingen High School South, and for the past 16 years has shared his passion with students by striving to develop their understanding of what agriculture truly means, he said.
“From clothing to food, we want them to look at the things that agriculture has to do with,” said Stevens. It’s an industry that people have mistaken assumed is just farming and animals. We want our students to understand how important of a field it is to our way of life.”
Along with the two teachers, he credits his love of the outdoors and a chance interaction of helping students with a project while in college for nudging him toward the direction of teaching, he said. Although intending to teach for a couple of years, it was seeing the students find success that solidified his future in education.
“When you see the students begin to change and improve, you want to continue the process to help them,” said Stevens. “There is always a new grade and new students. They learn so many different skills while in the class. From leadership to public speaking it provides them with tools to succeed in the future.’”
Seeing the program and class almost quadruple throughout the past couple of years, this year has brought another milestone as they have celebrated the opening of the Agricultural Project Center, he said. The state-of-the-art facility it has had a positive impact on Ag students across the district and allows them to produce better projects.
It’s’ a big change from the previous Ag Farm, which he help build in 1990, he said. He hopes that with the new facility that it will open up accessibility to more students and provide further opportunities for students to participate in FFA. He’s seen the project from start to finish as he served on the project center’s design community. Using months of research, he along with fellow committee members designed the facility to think of all factors that would come into play during a project.
When not teaching, he serves as the Agricultural Department Chair and junior varsity golf coach. With the extra duties, there is rarely a dull moment for Stevens, but it’s all for the mission of creating better program and develop students as better citizens.