AUGUSTA, Ill. — Bryan Schullian has a passion for teaching and agriculture.
“I always wanted to be a teacher and I had a passion for agriculture so those two combined to where I am today,” said Schullian, the agricultural teacher at Southeastern High School in Augusta.
Schullian’s work as a teacher and FFA adviser has not gone unnoticed and later this month he will receive the Outstanding Early Career Award from the National Association of Agriculture Educators, during the group’s annual convention in San Antonio, Texas.
“I can’t take credit for this award because if it was just me there’s no way I’m even considered,” stressed the ag teacher who has started his eighth year teaching at Southeastern.
“It’s my administration, fellow teachers and most importantly my students who were willing to take an ag class, to give up their time to serve their community, organize and plan the events we do and who came up with some of the ideas,” the award winner stated. “I’m humbled to be part of this community and have these amazing students.”
The Southeastern FFA Chapter, which includes about 85 members, is involved with many activities including an annual Kindergarten Day. “It is held at the state park and we have several outdoor activities for the kids like a fishing station, hayrack ride, nature walk and pony ride,” the FFA adviser said.
The students have the opportunity to create something such as a pine cone bird feeder, a stepping stone or planting flowers in pots and then decorating the pots. “The kids are learning while they are doing the activity so it’s a lot of fun for the kindergarteners.” Schullian said.
FFA banquet is a really big deal for the members of the Southeastern FFA Chapter. “We make our FFA banquet a production to make it entertaining for our guests as well as making it a special event for our members,” he said.
Chapter members have an incentive to attend their banquet. “For several years we rented Scotties Fun Spot and we’d go there and play laser tag, ride the go-carts, skate and play arcade games,” Schullian explained. “Most recently we started doing a Six Flags trip.”
Southeastern FFA members assist with a backpack project that is organized each year by the Methodist Church in Bowen.
“Kids come in, meet with one of our FFA members, get a backpack and go through the line of supplies to pick out whatever supplies they need for school,” the ag teacher said.
“At the beginning of the school year, we host a pool party or we host a back-to-school event at the park where we have lots of things for FFA members to do like play volleyball, basketball or bags,” Schullian said. “We also have a bonfire and roast hot dogs and the kids enjoy the opportunity to hang out and be together.”
At Southeastern, Schullian teaches a different course during each of the seven periods during the school day. Those classes included ag mechanics, biological science, environmental science, ag business, ag leadership and horticulture.
“For the horticulture class they learn about plant anatomy and how to manage a greenhouse,” the ag teacher said. “At the end of the school year, they do a plant sale for hanging baskets and bedding plants.”
During the Discovery Ag class for eighth-grade students, Schullian focuses on what is agriculture and on the National FFA Organization. “I also teach an Intro to Ag class for freshmen students where they learn about record keeping, parliamentary procedure, the FFA creed and public speaking skills.”
Schullian was raised on a grain and cattle farm near Quincy, where he was involved with showing cattle and playing sports. He also was an active FFA member and served as a chapter officer, section president and Illinois State FFA secretary.
Although he had considered becoming a history teacher, his high school ag teacher played an important role in his future. “Since Mr. Buyck put so much time and energy into being an ag teacher behind the scenes he made it look easy,” Schullian explained. “So I thought I could do that and once you get into it, there’s a quick reality check.”
While he was still studying at Western Illinois University, Schullian also was the varsity boy’s basketball coach at Southeastern High School. “That’s how I ended up teaching at Southeastern because it just happened the ag teacher position was open when I completed my degree,” he said. “So I stopped coaching and then I got back into it after a year off and have been doing it ever since.”
The support of others at Southeastern High School, Schullian said, has been significant, including school’s superintendent, Todd Fox. “He allows us to do things and we have amazing teachers,” he stated. “Our science club is phenomenal and they do so many unique and outstanding projects that our FFA members also enter in the AgriScience Fair.”
Schullian and his wife, Autumn, are the parents of Paxton and Tinley.