After 21 years teaching Ag Education in the Belle Plaine School District and advising the Belle Plaine Future Farmers of America (FFA), Bruce Mathiowetz is moving on to take the next step in his career.
"There comes a point in time when philosophies just don’t match. It's enough tension that it's just time to try something different," said Mathiowetz.
Starting this fall, he will begin teaching a drone program and an outdoor power equipment course at SouthWest Metro School District in Shakopee.
Students from across the SouthWest Metro Area will be able to sign up for these courses, which will be offered in two or three hour time blocks.
“The kids that I have I’m going to get to know really, really well,” said Mathiowetz.
However, he predicts many of his new students will spend just one year in his course, unlike the Belle Plaine kids whom he got to know from seventh grade through senior year.
“Watching them grow is tremendous,” he said. “I’ve got some families with multiple kids that it’s been literally a decade of having the family involved. I’m gonna miss that piece.”
Looking back on his two decades in Belle Plaine, Mathiowetz said he’s proud of the program he’s built and the success his graduating students have achieved, with some going on to become medical doctors or plant geneticists.
“I’ve got kids on the other end of the spectrum who were not considered strong students here that are making big, big bucks drawing six figure salaries doing machine tool, doing diesel mechanics, doing those kinds of things,” he said.
He said he’s always tried to embrace the interests of the students, whether that’s wildlife, taxidermy, or biotech, which has helped the Belle Plaine FFA grow into a competitive group.
“We’ve had some massive successes. In the first 14 years, we had 13 individuals or teams compete at the national level,” he said.
Mathiowetz will continue to work with Belle Plaine students for most of the summer. H
e also hopes to do some joint projects with SouthWest Metro Ag teacher Sarah Schurmann, who will teach Belle Plaine Ag courses and help run the new greenhouse this fall.