Although she didn’t grow up with a traditional agriculture background, Bailey Henry found a passion for the industry through the National FFA Organization. That passion led her to the University of Missouri – and eventually to a career where she is educating high school students about all things agriculture.
Henry earned her agricultural education degree from Mizzou in 2019. She has been an agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at Marceline High School since finishing her bachelor’s degree.
“Once I got involved in FFA, I was really hooked,” said Henry, who also earned her master’s degree in agricultural education from MU in 2021. “It was an awesome experience – and one that I never saw coming. Entering my freshman year, I don’t even think I knew what a combine was. By the time I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to work in the agriculture industry in some capacity.”
Henry attended Chillicothe High School where she joined the local FFA chapter during her freshman year. Her brother was involved in the organization, motivating Henry to give it a try.
“There’s such a strong ag program in Chillicothe, and I was very fortunate to have that help as someone who didn’t have an ag background,” Henry said. “They pushed me to learn as much as could and guided me as I got more involved in the local and statewide ag industry.
“As I got more involved, I realized that I wanted to one day give those same opportunities to high school students like me, who didn’t have that background.”
Henry said that while she toured a few universities, Mizzou definitely left the best impression. She became familiar with campus through a handful of FFA competitions and activities and knew she could find success as a Tiger.
“MU was the first place that I toured that felt like home,” Henry said. “CAFNR made me feel very welcome, too. There were professors who were already making an effort to get to know me and they made me feel like I was already part of the College. I could tell they wanted me here and were already figuring out ways to help me find success.”
Henry was incredibly involved during her time at MU, especially with Block and Bridle and the Swine Club. She helped coordinate the Steers and Stripes Cattle Show and was also active with the Chi Alpha campus ministry.
“It’s really important to get involved,” Henry said. “Mizzou is a big campus, but those clubs and organizations made it feel so much smaller.”
The agricultural education degree program was an easy choice for Henry. While she never envisioned herself as a teacher, Henry knew molding young minds was where she could make a difference.
“My mom always talked about how good of a teacher I would be, but I had no interest in that at all early on,” Henry said. “My time in FFA changed my mind for sure.”
During her student teaching, Henry said that she realized that finding a smaller program and building it up was something she wanted to find. Henry found that opportunity with Marceline.
“It truly felt like the stars aligned,” Henry said. “This program was exactly what I wanted.”
Henry said she took to heart what her agricultural education professors taught her, especially John Tummons and Jon Simonsen. She said the two helped guide her in different ways. Tummons, an associate teaching professor, showed her unique teaching methods, and Simonsen, an associate professor, helped her find ways to connect with her students. She credited both with making her early teaching career a success.
“They’re definitely my role models,” Henry said. “They got to know me and helped me with my strengths and weaknesses and how I could make improvements as I entered the workforce. Both of them were so awesome to sit down and have conversations with – and I know that if I had a question right now they would both be willing to help me out. They went above and beyond and I’m thankful to have them in my corner.”
As Henry continues her teaching journey, she said it has been incredibly rewarding to connect with students, especially those who may not have an agricultural background.
“My favorite part by far is working with the students,” Henry said. “We spend a lot of time together and really get to know each other. I’ve seen so many students go from being super shy to speaking in front of large groups of people. I love watching them step out of their comfort zones and build relationships with each other. That growth is so much fun to witness. I love being able to help them find their passions and where they fit in. It makes my heart warm.”