From Probation to Prosperity: Iowa ag professor honored for sowing seeds of success

The Iowa Farm Bureau recently awarded the 2023 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award to an ag educator devising new, hands-on opportunities for students and helping raise money for the Iowa FFA.

From the moment Craig McEnany stepped into Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), he found more than just a job; he discovered a fitting environment where his industry experiences could be shared with students. Over 30 years, he not only witnessed the growth of the Agribusiness program from 30 to 215 students annually but also played a pivotal role in creating hands-on opportunities for the next generation.

“When I started, we were just a year off the probation period of 12 students in the 2-year program,” McEnany recalled. However, the highlights of his career include the transformation from probation to prosperity. The program burgeoned to 215 full-time students, marking a remarkable journey of expansion.

One significant milestone was the planning and fundraising for the Iowa FFA Enrichment Center, where McEnany’s vision turned into reality in 2010. The center not only became a classroom environment for Agribusiness but also catered to veterinary technology and water environmental programs. McEnany’s forward-thinking approach expanded the curriculum with a production unit, forging partnerships with the Dallas County Board of Supervisors.

Throughout the years, McEnany witnessed a demographic shift in the program, evolving from a program comprised of 95 percent male students to a balanced 50:50 ratio of male to female students. The dynamic change is a testament to his dedication to creating an inclusive environment where all students have the opportunity and support to thrive.

Reflecting on his tenure, McEnany expresses his love for the job. His joy stemmed not just from the growth of the program but from witnessing the individual breakthroughs, the “aha,” lightbulb moments that illuminated students’ understanding.

“If you love what you do, it’s easy to come to work.” McEnany’ said, in his own words. His passion and commitment have left an indelible mark on DMACC, creating a legacy that extends beyond numbers and statistics—a legacy measured in the success stories of the students whose lives he touched.

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