GRANGEVILLE – Katie Mosman hasn’t let any grass grow under her feet during the past two years.
The 2009 graduate of Nezperce High School has spent two years at the helm of Grangeville High School’s agricultural science program. That includes teaching classes in fish and wildlife, forestry, botany, zoology, welding, small engine repair, advanced leadership, an introductory class that covers a variety of subjects, including woodworking, and advanced fabrication.
Mosman secured a $17,000 Idaho Department of Career and Technical Education grant last spring that paid for a CNC plasma cutter, software, and computer system.
She previously worked in Southern Idaho and had seen the equipment in action.
“I really wanted my advanced kids to be able to utilize the technology,” she said. Students mostly work in self-directed studies for this where they first learn the software, how to use the machine, maintenance, become skilled in the shop and working independently.
The CNC takes a 4x8 sheet of metal. Students design what they want on it through the CAD software (any size 4x8 or smaller) and the machine uses a plasma cutter on a robotic arm to cut through the metal. Students have made a variety of signs and images and even have a Facebook page, GHS Metal Art, where they sell their wares.
“Freshmen will ask how they get the privilege of using the machine. It’s the same as being an employee. They need to be good learners, skilled in shop, safe and trustworthy,” Mosman explained. “It’s quite a carrot to dangle out there.”
The system also allows for interdisciplinary studies as students in Bruce Wassmuth’s business and technology classes can use their computer skills to design and then the fabrication is accomplished by Mosman’s students.
“This could be the same student taking both classes, or perhaps totally different students with different skillsets working together,” she explained.
Mosman attended the University of Idaho where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Extension Education. She taught two years at Vallivue High School in Caldwell, then took a year off to earn her Masters of Education at the McCall Outdoor Science School U of I field campus, where she also earned a graduate certificate in environmental education. Following that, she taught a year at Meridian.
Mosman said she has heard from employers time and again, “If I can get a person who shows up on time and is willing work and learn, I can train that person.”
“This is why it’s so important to me to help these kids become self-directed, autonomous learners and workers,” she said.
Those skills have been integral in her teaching career.
“Right now, with the CNC we are just scratching the surface of what can be accomplished,” she said excitedly. “There is so much potential.”
Mosman’s experience and interest have gained attention not only in Grangeville, but throughout the state as well. She was chosen to serve on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the University of Idaho College of Agriculture and Life Science.
“I’m a third generation Vandal, so it’s exciting,” she smiled. Her grandparents, parents, and brother all have agricultural degrees and both of her sisters are also pursuing agricultural degrees at the U of I. “I’m passionate about agriculture and education, and this offers me a chance to help provide direction in what the college is doing.” The committee meets biannually.
Mosman was also chosen to take part in the Leadership Idaho Agriculture (LIA) program, which is a leadership development organization that works to directly cultivate leaders in agriculture, offering a concentrated, hands-on learning experience to enhance and build leadership qualities, while developing advocates for agriculture and rural communities who will serve as a voice for the industry.
This group met four days a month from November through February.
“My substitute was paid for by the LIA Foundation, which allowed me to be away from the classroom for those days,” she explained. “And I have a great substitute teacher, Sherry Brannan, who knows the curriculum, so I don’t feel like I am leaving my students unsettled.”
Mosman said she is excited to bring back her knowledge to the classroom and enhance Grangeville’s program.
Part of the leadership program is to boost public speaking skills to become a better advocate for agriculture. Through this, Mosman has been chosen to address Governor Brad Little regarding Idaho’s agriculture education as it impacts the state and its economy.
“I have practiced public speaking a lot, but I still get a little nervous,” she smiled. “But, as my grandpa always said, ‘if you’re not nervous, you’re not trying hard enough.’”
As if she wasn’t busy enough, Mosman was also chosen by the Idaho Agricultural Teachers Association to represent the state at the Career Technical Education National Policy Seminar, and she will travel to Washington, D.C., during spring break.
“I’m looking forward the opportunity to learn more about educational policy and meet and visit with congressmen,” she said.
It definitely is a mix of hands-on time with students, research, grant writing and professional development for Mosman as she teaches place-based education.
“We’re doing a necropsy on a calf all day tomorrow,” she explained Feb. 21. “This is such an amazing learning experience across the board for students who are interested in everything from farming and ranching and animal husbandry to veterinary medicine and more.”
The calf died locally, and students will try to ascertain what happened.
“These experiences cannot be replicated on a worksheet, in a book or on-line,” she said.
Perhaps Mosman is so in-tune with agriculture because she grew up the oldest of four children under the roof of Nezperce-area farmers Dave and Cathy Mosman. The family raises native grass and wildflower seed for reclamation. Her brother, Ray, is now at the helm of the farm, but the whole family still takes an active part in its workings.
“I love learning and I love teaching, so the lifestyle has been great for me,” she said.
Aside from everything else mentioned, this also includes the intracurricular program of FFA that Mosman is advisor for. Any student in any grade who is enrolled in an agriculture class is eligible to join.
FFA offers leadership training, competitive application of agricultural knowledge and skills, marketing and business development, research, public speaking and more. There are just over 40 in the FFA Chapter. Also, under Mosman’s direction, a GHS FFA Alumni and Supporter group is going full speed ahead to help support FFA travel and scholarships.
“I am so grateful for the incredible support the community has given me and the students. There is no way I could do this alone and the success of this program is really thanks to the community members who have donated countless hours and resources. It truly makes a difference.
Mosman’s plate will be just a little fuller come this May: She is marrying her fiancé, Chris Wilson, who is employed by the U.S. Forest Service.
“He loves Grangeville as much as I do,” she smiled. “This is where we want to be.”
E-mail Mosman at firstname.lastname@example.org.