INWOOD—Agriculture has always been a big part of Shauna Kill’s life.
She grew up raising sheep and cattle on her family farm near Morris, MN, was active in 4-H and FFA and studied agriculture at South Dakota State University in Brookings, graduating in 2016. She is working to complete her master’s degree in agricultural education.
It’s no wonder the 25-year-old has chosen to teach it. She is a vocational agriculture and FFA teacher for the West Lyon School District, where she works with students from eighth grade to high school seniors.
Kill teaches an introductory class to eighth-graders that explains their options on a variety of career paths, from agriculture to art, from industrial arts to computers. It’s important to provide a breadth of information to them, she said.
That’s a first-period class for her and is followed by a class with seniors that focuses on preparing for job interviews and other real-life scenarios. But there’s also time to envision what they would like to do as Kill helps them build “dream businesses,” which allows them to create a business plan.
It’s not all make-believe as the students operate concession stands at sporting events. They turn a profit with it, too, Kill said.
Students involved with FFA also work to complete the requirements to earn state FFA degrees, she said. As a former FFA member, she has a special feeling for the program and wants to help students succeed in it.
“I really have enjoyed sharing my interests with people that come from a place surrounded in agriculture,” Kill said. “Discovering the back story to one of our very basic human needs — food — is exciting and everyone should have that opportunity. Also, kids are cool, and strange, and funny. They really grow here and I hope to offer a space that allows that.”
Kill said she tries hard to get students involved and excited.
“Sometimes you can’t. But it’s my job to learn what makes every kid tick and connect with that,” she said. “If I connect well, kids can be more likely to invest in class.”
She enjoys teaching, Kill said, and takes it seriously. Her dedication shows, according to superintendent Shawn Kreman, since the West Lyon agriculture education program, which also includes veteran teacher Craig Winquist, has a sterling reputation.
“The trust and freedom I am given to make the right choices is the best part of my job,” Kill said. “My admin, co-workers, and students have a good belief that I am competent and capable to plan quality lessons on units I believe important, work with kids in an impactful manner, and perform my other adviser duties responsibly. At least I hope they do!”
Kill has had that special feeling for agriculture since she was a little girl. Her parents, Steve and Lori Kill, operate a 1,000-head beef cattle farm named LoSt Acres, a blend of their name. It has been in the family for decades. She and her siblings worked on it, and she said that was an enjoyable time. While the farm focused on cattle, she also raised some sheep.
“They were so cute, the babies,” Kill said.
She and her sister Lauren, 27, who lives in Toronto, SD, and works in a seed lab, and brother Kurtis, 18, studying computer science at the University of Minnesota, played and worked together.
“Mostly my sister as we are closer in age but we all rock-picked, worked feedlot calves when needed and raised 4-H show hogs, sheep and calves,” Kill said. “We also spent plenty of time playing on bales, in the barn, fishing with dad and exploring the grove.”
After high school, she enrolled at SDSU, which has an impressive agricultural program. In addition to her studies, Kill was a butcher’s assistant at the meat lab, worked for the South Dakota Pork Producers and waited tables at Perkins, giving her experience in all levels of food production and service before graduating in 2016.
She student-taught in Sleepy Eye, MN, before coming to N’West Iowa to launch her teaching career. Kill lives in Rock Rapids and is in her fourth year at West Lyon. While she teaches ag classes and maintains a great interest in it, she doesn’t plan to farm or own livestock.
“I’ll let my dad do that,” she said.
Kill said she is in her last year at West Lyon, since she is moving to Watertown, SD, where she will be married and open a new chapter in her career. The odds are, it will involve agriculture.