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DAA: Byron L. Ernest

Byron Ernest

Byron L. Ernest

Sheridan, IN | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2007

From background to profession to hobbies, it’s agriculture all the way for Byron Ernest. Raised on a hog, cattle, and grain farm in Pendleton, Indiana, his goal was to earn an animal sciences degree from Purdue. When a professor suggested Ernest had a gift for teaching, he added ag education as a second degree, earning both in four years, then went on to get his M.S. He’s been involved in education since 1985, teaching in Shelby County, Michigantown, and Lebanon, as well as working as a vocational education specialist for the Indiana Department of Education and executive director of The National Young Farmer Education Association, United States Department of Education. In 2004 he answered a recruiting call to launch an agriculture department at Lebanon Community School Corp., where he has grown it to a staff of four teachers who are instructing more than 500 students. There, he has implemented new advanced life sciences courses and developed an agriculture department endowment fund with the Lebanon Educational Foundation. “I like the challenge of staying up-todate in new developments and the thrill of developing kids,” he says. “My motto is rigor, relevance, and relationships. I gain their respect by taking an interest in them and showing them what’s relevant to what they’ll be doing.” Throughout his career, he’s also been an FFA advisor. His chapter ranked first in the state numerous times and won the national once. Since 1987 he has co-owned Hopeful Farmers, where he breeds and races thoroughbreds, raises some show sheep, and produces value-added hay sold to racehorse trainers and owners. He enjoys judging sheep, cattle, and hog shows across the country. And he’s involved in the National and Indiana FFA associations, Indiana Young Farmers’ Association, and National Young Farmer Educational Association. “At Purdue I learned relationship and relevance in my classes, preparing me for what I do as a teacher, which wasn’t even in my plan until a professor suggested I had a gift for it.”