Harnessing a Passion for Education
CALS student grows her love of learning while finding a new home
Growing up on a dryland wheat farm in Helix, Oregon, gave Bethany Newtson a respect for the beauty of cultivating life from the soil. As a freshman studying agricultural education at the University of Idaho, her classes instilled an even deeper appreciation of agriculture.
“As a farmer, you take part in the tangible processes, but coming to college and learning the science behind it all is fascinating,” Newtson said.
Understanding the entire natural system, from the function of cells to the role of soil bacteria adds a whole new layer of brilliance to the beauty. She’s found the story of agriculture to be one of biological balance, growth and new life. For Newtson, it’s a story worth teaching.
“I initially didn’t want to go into education,” Newtson said. “But as a high school senior I started thinking about what I wanted out of a career, which was to help people, build meaningful relationships, and serve as a positive influence in the lives of others. I realized teaching was for me.”
Newtson took a closer look at U of I after receiving the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), which allows out-of-state students to pay 150 percent of Idaho in-state tuition and fees, rather than out-of-state tuition. She knew she wanted to teach secondary education, but didn’t know what subject to specialize in.
"People were excited about what they studied and were passionate about agriculture. “The faculty knew their students and were invested in their future. It felt like the right place to be.”
“We don’t have an agricultural education program in Helix and seeing an agricultural education degree listed on the website made me interested,” Newtson said.
When she visited campus in 2017 for UIdaho Bound, she was drawn to the amount of science and education courses in the agricultural education program, and also to the sense of community she found in U of I’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).
Newtson describes her transition to college as a fresh start.
“At first, I was anxious, coming to college and not knowing anyone,” Newtson said. “But now that sounds so silly. I have friends all over CALS.”
She jumped into campus organizations, toured agricultural education classes in Washington state and facilitated competitions at the National FFA Convention as a member of Collegiate FFA.
“I’m trying to expose myself to new experiences, to learn as much as I can, and even though I was never in FFA, I have not once felt like an outsider,” Newtson said. “I am touched by the sincere excitement of my friends to share their experiences with me.”
Newtson sees college as much of a personal journey as it is an academic one.
“I’m one semester down, and already I’ve learned so much about myself, on top of the subjects of my classes,” Newtson said. “I’m excited to see what’s next.”
Learn more about how you can get involved in student life at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
Article by Maggie Elliot, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Published in April 2018