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Rewarding mix of farm, school

Buffalo High School graduate Larry Marquette nominated for state agriculture teacher of the year honor

By Ed DuBois

Staying busy can sometimes lead to unexpected rewards.  For Larry Marquette, staying busy includes teaching science, chemistry, agriculture food chemistry, college chemistry, physics, and agriculture horticulture at Dassel-Cokato High School.  He is also an FFA co-adviser at DCHS.

Larry, the youngest of six, lives on his parents' farm just west of Buffalo, and he said his farm activities play into what he teaches.  He shares his farm experiences with the students, and he tells them about his community-supported agriculture activities.  People sign up each season to buy garden produce from the farm.  He also tells about selling produce, goat cheese and sauerkraut at the Buffalo Farmers Market.

He has about 30 goats, and they give birth to about 20 kids (baby goats) a year.

"I have them for show, mainly," Larry said.

He regularly takes part in the National Goat Show in Madison, Wis., which takes place on the Saturday after the Fourth of July.

"I try to get there," he commented.

This summer, he is also planning to chaperone 14 FFA students on a trip to South Africa.

On top of everything else, he plays the bassoon and performs with the Buffalo Community Orchestra.  He also plays the piano at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Buffalo.


'I like to do stuff'

Asked if staying so busy is a problem at times, Larry said, "I like being busy.  I like to try different things.  It takes up time, but I like to do stuff."

His multi-faceted life and the way he has shared his experiences with his students has been noticed by his agriculture teacher colleagues.  Larry was honored recently at the regional level as a top agriculture teacher in his first year of eligibility, and he was nominated at the regional level for the state agriculture teacher of year honor.

Interestingly, Larry had planned to go into research after studying agricultural biotechnology at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

"I am glad I am in teaching.  It's fun to look back and realize how much the students have learned," said the 1998 Buffalo High School graduate.


Good 4-H background

While growing up on the farm near Buffalo, his involvement with 4-H helped prepare him.

"I am comfortable in the role as a teacher.  I did a lot of leadership stuff in 4-H," Larry commented.

His duties as an FFA adviser allow him to get better acquainted with the students beyond the classes he teaches.

"I get to know the kids at a different level (through FFA activities), and that makes it more meaningful," Larry said.

He has been involved with organizing FFA career development events and contests.


Big undertaking

The trip to South Africa came about through connections Larry made during a previous trip two years ago.  He enjoyed learning about the culture of South Africa, as well as learning about agriculture in that part of the world.  He saw how culture and climate impact agriculture, he said.

The trip two years ago was made with fellow FFA co-adviser Eric Sawatzke and other agriculture teachers.  Larry said they now have a good contact in South Africa and are looking forward to taking students there this summer.  The trip is a big undertaking, but it is expected to be very worthwhile.


Teaching since 2005

Meanwhile, Larry continues teaching at DCHS and commuting home to the family farm each day.

His parents are Gordon and Shirley Marquette.  His brother, Dave, has been doing most of the farming in recent years.  Larry said he helps with baling hay in the summertime.

He started teaching in 2005 at Annandale High School.  In 2008, he began working at Dassel-Cokato High School.

Larry stays so busy, he hasn't had much time to think about the prospect of being named the State Agriculture Teacher of the Year.  When he was asked about it, the subject served as a reminder he needs to submit information to the state organization, the Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators, by March 15.

But what's one more task for someone who is accustomed to staying so busy?

Sometimes staying busy can lead to unexpected rewards.


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