A city girl, Ashley Wishon, the new Agriculture teacher at Pea Ridge, didn't even know about FFA until she was a senior in high school when she took her first Agriculture class.
"I always knew I wanted to teach," she said. After she took her first Ag class, she fell in love with it, and wanted to teach Ag.
"My background is a little different than most Ag teachers. I did not grow up on a farm," she said. Most Ag teachers have some farming background. "I grew up in town and the only animal I had was a little dog."
Wishon, a 2008 graduate of Rogers High School, earned her bachelor's degree in agriculture, communication technology and education with a minor in agriculture technology, and Ag mechanics from the University of Arkansas in 2012.
During her student teaching days, she was privileged to work with Perry Mason in Pea Ridge and knew from that point that she wanted to teach in Pea Ridge.
"I fell in love with the environment," she said.
After graduation, she worked in Seneca, Mo., then took a part-time position in Ag and taught pre-kindergarten for a year. She then taught in Huntsville for five years.
"This is a small, close-knit community. It's very different than when I student taught here. It's still a really good community," she said of PRHS.
Working with Mason taught her many skills.
"I loved it. He taught me so much stuff. Even when i was working at Huntsville, I would call him for advice," she said of Mason.
Wishon, the eldest of four children, said being the eldest child may have helped in her calling.
"I love helping others learn new material and used to help my little brothers with their lessons," she said. "I knew I wanted to be hands on and loved the idea of working with animals and teaching kids about that. It's so beneficial."
Her goal is "to make this FFA chapter explode! I want everyone in Pea Ridge to know about Pea Ridge FFA."
She hopes to be involved in community outreach and wants everyone to be able to recognize the FFA members in the community.
Classes she teaches include Ag mechanics, advanced Ag mechanics, animal science, advanced animal science, survey of agriculture class and introduction to the world of agriculture for seventh- and eighth-graders.
"I have several who are from farm families. It's seems like they're smaller type farm kids," she said. "I'm trying to get them interested in showing at the fair."
"Ag is life."
"I tell the kids, it's not just farming and animals anymore. There's so much technology involved in ag. Everything that's part of your life. Anything you wear, touch, eat has something to do with agriculture.
"I want to open their eyes and help them see that what they're putting in their bodies and how agriculture is related. They don't realize where their food comes from," she said. "Too often, they don't understand connection between traditional farming and big corporate America.
"I love showing kids the communication and technology side. They have no clue. They can go to college and major in communications, become reporter or photographer, product analysis, food scientist ... there are so many areas in agriculture."
"That's usually my first day," she said, "to get them to think outside the box and get past stereotypes."
Wishon and her students made corn hole boards for Homecoming.
"I'm really excited about it," she said, expressing her enthusiasm over helping students learn and experience new things.
She said she enjoys introducing students to the world of college ag degrees including ag engineering. Other options include food or poultry science, biology.
She recalled a student who recently graduated who is doing an internship with Carroll Electric.
"He was the engineering type. He's been very successful with that. When I had him in class, it was the first shop class he'd ever taken and he was very nervous,
She said shop and Ag are "all inclusive."
"Why learn to weld? If you're going to be independent on your farm, you have to be able to do repairs, things that are more technical, shop or building related, in a safe and efficient manner. Or even, not going to be a farmer, but have own home, it's nice to learn how to do simple repairs. It's a way to be better informed."
She said she has a Facebook page for the FFA and Agriculture Education.
Being in Pea Ridge has been enjoyable for her.
"It's been very welcoming!"
Wishon and her husband, Michael, have a 3-year-old daughter, Bonnie Rose, and a son, Josiah, born in December. They live on a 30-acre farm in Anderson, Mo.
"We want to get cattle. My favorite breed is Hereford," she said. "I can't explain why, it's just such a great breed. It's great for meat production."