Morgan Coday: Encouraging Youth

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Morgan Coday is contributing to the growth of the FFA Organization as the middle school agriculture instructor at the Dallas County R-1 School District in Buffalo in #Agri-Ready Designated Dallas County. She pursued her career in agriculture education after growing up on her family’s farm in the Ozarks where her own FFA Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) was beef production under the mentorship of her dad, Stan, who was also her FFA Advisor. These days, Morgan’s impact goes beyond teaching seventh and eighth grade students basic agriculture concepts while giving them a taste of FFA; she is creating an environment that encourages youth to begin connecting to their roles as the consumers of the future. 

“Middle school programs can help draw kids into agriculture. Many kids have preconceived notions about agriculture, so I share how and why farming has evolved. I share with my students why agriculture is not just important, but vital, to the United States, Missouri, and our hometown of Buffalo,” Morgan said. “We talk on their level how economic growth starts on our local farms and how they can see that impact at the local grocery store. Even if they don’t entirely grasp how agriculture’s importance in the moments I have to teach them, hopefully the concepts stick and impact them down the road as consumers.”

Morgan grew up on her family’s farm in #Agri-Ready Designated Webster County where she raised Simmental beef cattle that she showed at fairs during the summers. Agriculture has been woven through her entire life. She remembers her anticipation to get into high school agriculture classes and she wasn’t surprised to find her niche in FFA at her small school district. Morgan served as a Missouri FFA Officer in 2013-2014. She began college classes to become a vet and quickly determined that path of study was not for her. She had enjoyed agriculture classes so much she thought she’d give education classes a try. Her dad encouraged her by sharing his experience and realistic expectations.

Morgan started her teaching career seven years ago. She was an FFA advisor and agriculture instructor for high school programs in #Agri-Ready Designated Mississippi and Scott Counties before a unique opportunity caught her interest closer to home in southwest Missouri. Morgan accepted the full-time position to teach agriculture at Dallas County R-1 School District in 2021. She was challenged to grow students’ interest in agriculture to stimulate growth of the school’s FFA chapter. After three years of investment, she is excited about the fruits of her labors.

The Dallas County R-1 middle school agriculture program has 120 students, reflecting growth of 50% in enrollment since its beginning. Morgan receives positive feedback from her administration and her fellow middle school teachers who recognize a positive difference in the attitudes of students who get to experience a “club” before they get to high school. The Buffalo FFA chapter has seen an increase in involvement of this year’s freshmen members who participated in Morgan’s classes. She teaches elective, semester long courses for seventh and eighth graders which include Agriculture I-animal science, Agriculture-II soils and plant science basics, and Conservation that set a foundation for deeper study in high school. 

Last year, Morgan began a middle school FFA “program”. Middle school students are not eligible to participate in FFA chapters, but Morgan facilitates activities with the kids that mirror opportunities they can expect if they choose to stay involved in agriculture education. Her students organized their own small barnwarming party and participated in the local Christmas parade. They are planning a community service project and are enjoying dress-up days to celebrate National FFA Week. “Since middle school students cannot attend official FFA conferences, have SAEs, or compete in contests, it really allows me to focus on the foundations of agriculture education, enjoy teaching my students, and let them lead the activities we can do together,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s unique position allows her flexibility to plan her future goals. “I want to grow this FFA program by finding and planning new activities for my students to experience that will show them more and more about agriculture. Meanwhile, I want to go back to school to earn a master’s degree or specialist certificate to keep learning myself,” Morgan shared.

Morgan’s fiancé, Nathan, has a farm near Buffalo. The couple is starting their own beef herd and planning to build a home as they look forward to their wedding in 2025. Morgan is a member of Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association, both partners of Missouri Farmers Care.