In honor of the tenth annual National Teach Ag Day, we want to thank every agricultural educator across Minnesota. Each of you empower students, build community within your schools and cities, and teach leadership skills that inspire future generations. Agriculture wouldn’t be the same without you.
As part of our celebration of ag teachers, we want to introduce you to Joshua Muñoz, a recent CFANS alumnus (MS ‘20) who will be in teaching for the first time this fall at Como Park High School in St. Paul.
Meet Joshua Muñoz
Tell us about your personal background and how you came to teaching. I was born and raised in St. Paul and recently completed my undergraduate degree in Agricultural Communication and Marketing in CFANS (BS ‘18). I felt inspired and motivated by agriculture-related research jobs to become a teacher. As an undergraduate student, I worked as a research assistant for the Maize Translational Genomics Hirsch Lab and as a lab assistant for the Bee Lab. The internship opportunities I participated in, which included Growing North Minneapolis, U of M Extension Ag Education and Minnesota Hemp Farms, also influenced my decision.
What courses will you be teaching this fall?
- Small Animal Care & Management
- Natural Resources
- Floral Design
- Woodshop & Small Engines
- Intro to Agriculture
How many students will be in each of your classes? An average of 37 students per class, and our district is starting with distance learning.
Why are you passionate about agricultural education? It connects to my hobbies and previous work experiences. It’s easy to motivate students within this field because of the numerous career pathways and an abundance of opportunities available after high school. It’s hands-on, fun, and focuses on life and career skills.
As a new teacher, how are you preparing for your first year of teaching, especially given that we’re living in a pandemic? Keeping my professional network close, which includes CFANS faculty, my teaching cohort, and other agriculture educators and advisors.
How do you plan to create an inclusive classroom, especially given our current local/national backdrop? Honor culture, be transparent, and support student voices and ideas.
What are you planning to do to create a positive learning environment for students who are either returning to school or just starting high school? I plan to make instruction relatable by bringing in Minnesota-specific content and by respectfully highlighting the diverse cultures in our local communities.
How has your education in CFANS helped prepare you for these uncertain times? The agricultural teaching program at CFANS is rigorous and exceeded my expectations. The program focused closely on key aspects of teaching, such as the importance of establishing professional and authentic relationships with students.
Did you receive any CFANS scholarships that helped support your studies? Yes, I received a Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MALEC) scholarship and a CFANS Diversity Scholarship. MAELC staff have been a key role in my education and path toward becoming an agricultural educator, I can’t thank them enough!
What advice would you have for current undergraduate students who are interested in ag ed careers? I would encourage undergrads to search for scholarships and internships, volunteer for events and be involved in clubs. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone, to think outside the box, and try new things (have an open mind). All of this will help you build a network of professionals that support you. And don’t forget to have fun.
Overall how would you describe the influence that being in agricultural education has had on your professional life and personal growth? For me, working as an ag ed teacher for Como Park High School, which is so close to where I was born and raised, means a lot to me. It is more than just a job — it is serving and giving back to my community while doing what I love. My role as an ag educator brings everything I experienced in my life together.
Thank you, Josh! Good luck this fall — we know you'll do great as a first-time teacher. We are CFANS Proud of you!