When Rachael Bagnell chose the University of Missouri, she knew exactly what she wanted to study – agricultural education. A legacy student, Bagnell’s father and sister both received agricultural education degrees from Mizzou.
It was a degree program that Bagnell, who chose the teacher certification route, knew she could find success with.
“I was looking for a program that would give me that ‘family’ feeling,” Bagnell said. “I went on multiple college visits, but none of them gave me the feeling I got when I toured MU. I knew the day after my Mizzou tour that this was the place for me.”
Bagnell grew up in Slater, Mo., on her family farming operation where they have Hereford cattle and plant row crops. She said her interest in teaching came from her grandmother and father, who were both teachers, as well as the time she spent in her high school agriculture class.
“I always had a love and passion for agriculture and knew I wanted educate others about its importance, as well as be an advocate for the industry,” Bagnell said. “My freshman year of high school, I realized agricultural education could be a path for me. By my senior year of high school, I knew it was the right path for me.”
Bagnell said the degree program has offered her multiple teaching theories and methods to help her find the style that best suits her. She added that those theories and methods go beyond the classroom, too. Bagnell learned numerous life skills through the program that she has been able to apply.
“I always feel at home when I walk into Gentry Hall,” Bagnell said. “No matter where I walk in, someone in the building says hello. You aren’t a number in the agricultural education program – you have a name. Within my courses, I knew I was going to be heard, plus we talk about numerous important topics. Whatever I have going on in my life, I know the faculty and staff will give me great advice or offer me a listening ear.”
Bagnell was involved in three organizations during her time at MU – Mizzou Block and Bridle, Mizzou FFA and Independent Aggies. She served as the Block and Bridle president last year, where she helped prepare the Steers and Stripes event, an annual livestock show.
“In high school, I was involved in absolutely everything,” Bagnell said. “I knew that wasn’t going to be sustainable, so when I got to college, I told myself that I needed to limit my involvement to just three clubs. I loved each of these groups.
“I was happy to get my animal sciences fix through Block and Bridle. The Steers and Stripes event was incredibly rewarding, and it was such a great team effort. It was great to see the event have success, and it was a lot of fun to work with so many great people.”
Bagnell recently finished her student teaching with the Montgomery County R-2 School District. She worked with their FFA chapter and got a taste of being a full-time teacher.
“Student teaching was a tremendous experience,” Bagnell said. “I knew being in the classroom each day was going to be very different, but I loved every minute. I built so many great relationships, and I’m really excited to see where the students I taught end up.”
Bagnell also helped advise the chapter at the State FFA Convention last month.
“It was really fun to be in an advising role during state convention this year,” Bagnell said. “Last year, I helped prepare two contests as a student superintendent. This year, it was fun to be on the other side and help my students through the contests.”
After graduation, Bagnell will head to Vandalia, Mo., to be an agriculture educator in the Van-Far R-1 School District. She said she is already putting together lesson plans for her upcoming classes.
“I’m beyond excited to get started at Van-Far,” Bagnell said. “I’ve been looking up classroom ideas and hands-on learning opportunities. I’ve started making a list of my expectations and what I plan on teaching. I’m ready to take that leap. I always pictured myself in this type of role, and it’s exciting to actually see myself in the role.
“It’s definitely bittersweet, though, graduating from Mizzou. I am thankful for all that the university has done for me. I’m excited to bring the students I teach here, and I am hopeful to one day continue my families’ legacy and have my own children attend Mizzou.”