My Life in Ag

Mrs. Rippole made my high school experience so much more enjoyable and beneficial, and I didn’t even realize she was doing it.

My Life in Ag

I attend Derry through the Agriculture department as a tuition student. If you know me, you would say that agriculture is the opposite of something I would enjoy. And last year, I would have agreed with you.

Now, I would not. 

This is because of one person, Mrs. Rippole.

In my first year of Ag,  I came in already hating it. I had the mindset that the classes I was going to take in the Ag building would be the worst periods of my life, and no one was changing my mind. This mindset is one that I carried with me throughout the majority of my junior year. I did not pay attention or care about the classes, and Mrs. Rippole could tell.

She tried converting the “anti-Ag” student that I was into an agricultural capsule of knowledge. At first, it was like she was talking to a brick wall, but she was persistent and relentless.

She tried relating to things that I love, such as running. Towards the end of my junior year, it started working. I still didn’t enjoy Ag, but I was much less miserable than at the beginning of the year.

My senior year kicked off with much of the same.

In food science, she would always point out different foods that would benefit my running and challenge me to apply them to my daily diet. This evolved into Mrs. Rippole and I talking about it all the time amongst other things. She would always ask me about how my morning run before school was, how my race went the day before, and how the recruiting process was going. Despite my decision to attend Pitt and not PSU (Pitt was a clear choice – sorry, Mr. Curcio), she was equally as happy and immediately related it to Ag and how the stuff I’ve learned would benefit me in the next chapter of my life.

All-in-all, this showed me that Mrs. Rippole really cared about my education and that I was enjoying it. I started to buy into the Ag idea and ultimately changed my viewpoint into a positive one. I started coming to class eager to learn something new and equally eager to see how Mrs. Rippole could relate it to me. She truly did take me under her wing and showed me the endless possibilities that unfortunately hid behind my stigmatized mind. Mrs. Rippole made my high school experience so much more enjoyable and beneficial, and I didn’t even realize she was doing it.

Based on this mindset change, I also added Greenhouse this year to my schedule, and the first thing we did was grow poinsettias.

Starting on the first day of school all the way up until Christmas, we took care of the poinsettias day in and day out. The poinsettias became one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve received in a very long time. Going into it, I wouldn’t say I was dreading it, but I definitely wasn’t looking forward to it. Needless to say, I ended up loving it. What started off as strictly a grade evolved into an enjoyable activity. I loved watching them grow from the little stem we started with into a huge flower that was so full and beautiful. I had a connection with them and cared more than I thought I would about a simple plant.

I wouldn’t say that I “learned” something new, but I did see a concept that I now try to follow right before my eyes. Consistency is key. In running, it isn’t always the hard, life-questioning workouts that I do on the track in 14-degree weather. It’s the days that it is just an easy recovery run when I would much rather sleep in and skip it. But consistency is what has taken me to the next level. The poinsettias are oddly similar. If you do all the little things right, like applying pesticides, properly spot-watering, or just taking the time to remove the dead leaves from the plants, the big things eventually will fall into place, like seeing the poinsettias flourish.

The poinsettias, or just growing plants in general, have become a new hobby and passion of mine. Since the project started, I have bought my own couple of plants to care for at my house, and I even applied to a greenhouse for a job. Without Mrs. Rippole opening my eyes to the vast beautiful world of Ag, I would never have discovered this passion of mine.

A passion of mine that is still growing.