Good teachers can be found throughout all walks of life. For some, their classroom is a traditional setting with desks and whiteboards. Others may seize the opportunity to teach a child or educate a person in any setting they are given.
Amy Jo Estes, Dairy Superintendent for the Missouri State Fair, is equally at home in both educational environments.
Estes spent 15 years teaching fourth and fifth graders and the last three years teaching the gifted classes in the Gasconade County R-II School District.
That was not the full extent of her teaching.
Each summer for the past 19 years, she has been educating visitors to the Fair about the importance of dairy cattle.
“I really think the most important thing is to educate the next generation of kids,” Estes said. “I always tried to do that in the class room setting and now I try to do it by teaching visitors, especially the children, about the food we eat and the importance of fresh farm products.”
Born in Knob Noster, Estes grew up in the suburbs of south Kansas City after her family moved there.
“My father was a teacher and when he accepted a job in the city we moved there,” Estes said. “Both my parents grew up on a farm and every chance I could I wanted to be at my grandparents’ farm in Holden.
“I heard a saying once that has become a favorite of mine,” Estes added. ‘“I wasn’t born on a farm, but I ran as fast as I could to get there.’ It pretty much sums up my feeling for the farm and life.”
After attending the University of Missouri Columbia where Estes studied agriculture, she transferred to Central Methodist University where she obtained her degree in elementary education.
Estes spent summers with her sister in the milk barns at the Fair.
“Before I started at the Fair, my first job was working at a Baskin Robbins in the city,” Estes said. “I mean really, who doesn’t like ice cream?”
Her progression to the Dairy Superintendent seems like a natural fit for someone with a love of not only ice cream but also all things dairy, farming and education.
“There were some years when I would work (at the Fair) and drive back home each night to get my classroom ready for the beginning of school,” Estes said. “It was busy, but the best part by far of both jobs is the kids.
“I love their creativity and the fact that they are a constant source of energy,’ she added.
Estes commented she is now working with the second generation of families in her time spent in the classroom and the Fair.
“I have met some incredible farm families,” Estes added. “I had the chance to get to know them and follow their families as they grow.”
Estes, her husband, John, and their children live on a family farm in Rosebud that has been in her husband’s family for several generations.
“I want my children and those I have the opportunity to teach to understand the sense of pride I have in living on a farm,” Estes said. “I want them to know too the blessing that can be found there.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484