Ericka Priest
Ericka Priest

DHI Media Correspondent

VAN WERT — A full career in 4-H convinced 2012 Van Wert High School graduate Ericka Priest that she wanted to pursue a career path in some type of agriculture activity that would also have an impact on the life of kids.

During her 4-H days, she was involved with horses, 4-H Ambassadors, counseling, Junior Fair Board and various kinds of livestock.

“As a Junior Fair Board officer I received all types of leadership experience in all aspects of 4-H,” said Priest. “I met a lot of friends with backgrounds in different areas of agriculture.

“I knew that I wanted to do something with agriculture,” Priest continued. “I wanted to do something that would make an impact on kids, the same type of impact that 4-H had on me. It gave me the courage to step up. When I was young, I could be shy but 4-H gave me self-confidence and the ability to step up.”

Priest said that as she got deeper into her 4-H experience, she began to realize that agriculture was much more than simply crops and livestock. Forestry, woodworking, landscaping and even various type of industry could all connect with agriculture.

“There are just so many jobs and opportunities,” observed Priest.

When school starts this fall, Priest will be taking on her first year as Ag teacher and FFA advisor in the Crestview Schools.

This past spring, she graduated from Ohio State University with as bachelor’s degree in agriculture education. During her freshman and sophomore years at OSU, she was also involved with Ag Tech Institute where she received an associate in community leadership for extension education.

Among her highlights at Van Wert were school mascot her senior year, Service Pack her senior year, student council her junior year and cheerleading and volleyball her freshman and sophomore years.

“I am really looking forward to this. I am really excited about being an Ag teacher,” said Priest. “Like everybody I have a passion. I want the kids to discover theirs, in the classroom and outside the classroom.”

Her teaching experience this year will lead to classes such Energy Systems Management, Animal Plant Science, Ag Food and Natural Resources, Business Management and Ag, Mechanical Systems Management and Capstone for the seniors.

“I love livestock and animals in general,” Priest said. “I’m fascinated with the different ways they provide comfort.

“I want my kids to become active in the community,” continued Priest. “I want my kids to feel comfortable with something if they work for it. I want them to be able to manage their time and budget and be successful with whatever career path they go. I want them to be successful in a way that will open doors for them.”

Priest said that when she left Van Wert to go to Columbus, she was a little apprehensive about coming back to the local community. But as she began to understand the deep meaning of people such as her grandparents, parents, sisters, cousins and best friends and their families from the local area, she became more and more compelled to return to Van Wert County.

“Now I’m coming home. I want to give back to the community that gave to me,” observed Priest. “When the Crestview job opened up, I was really excited. I’m excited about seeing my kids come in the first day of the fair. I want to see their talents and what they are interested in.”