New AG and FAA teacher joins Winlock

By Lynnette Hoffman

New AG and FAA teacher joins Winlock

Steve Mahitka

The new Agriculture teacher in Winlock this year is definitely here for the students. Steve Mahitka joined Winlock High School this year and his excitement has shown through. Having an opportunity to meet Mr. Mahitka a few weekends ago chasing cows, I saw the excitement in his face for what he is doing with the students.

Steve has always enjoyed agriculture and Future Farmers of America. He stated, " I grew up in Kelso most of my school years until the summer after my Freshman year. We moved to Skamokawa and had a 113-acre farm where I really found my passion for agriculture and FFA. I graduated from Wahkiakum High School. I then went to WSU and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education. My first job took me to Poulsbo Washington where I taught 9th-grade horticulture and was one of 3 FFA advisors. In that time I had a Son, who is now 21, and twin daughters, now 18. I moved to Eastern Washington and taught for 5 years at Wapato High School teaching multiple Agriculture subjects and being an FFA advisor. This is also where I met my wife Michelle. In 2012, we moved to Sequim, had 2 boys, Payton (6) and Brayden (4). I grew the Agriculture Program from less than 100 students to this last year having over 300. I also took on the CTE Department as the CTE Director and started new programs in Veterinary Science."

Steve enjoys teaching at Winlock, it's the type of community he wanted. He is very happy to be closer to the family as well, he stated, "Winlock is a small town, and having grown up in a smaller tight-knit community I was looking for that type of opportunity to teach. My family and I were looking to move closer to our families. The community of Winlock gave me the opportunity to teach my passion to students and to be closer to our families."

You can tell when you talk to him, agriculture and FFA are very important to him. He continued, "The opportunity to give students real-world experiences in things that are vitally important to our lives. The game of agriculture allows me to teach real-world hands-on materials to students. Students can find something in agriculture that they can connect with and that is the fun challenge for me as a teacher. Some students really enjoy planting or working with animals, others enjoy the technology or science component, and yet others like the aspect of design or art that comes with landscape or floral design. So much of the things I do is teaching students some of what is almost a lost art of learning to feed yourself and your community. I enjoy the challenge of this and letting the students see my passion in this area and what the area of agriculture offers them for the future. The tie-in with FFA expands upon this opportunity and challenges the students to step out of their comfort zone and work on the things they may have never thought of or feel comfortable with. Students can take what they learn in class, advance that learning into projects or experiments, and then use that for future goals or plans. Plus some of these projects can make them money."

Steve continued, "The goals for my students is for them to learn the importance of agriculture in their everyday lives and for them to see the opportunities that agriculture has for them. As I stated before I want them to look at current issues we face in agriculture from the small independent to the big issues on a global scale and then using problem-solving skills to work through how we could solve those problems. I also want them to be exposed to hands-on opportunities in the field so that they can find their passion and know what they may want to do in their future. I guess to put it in simpler terms my goal for students is to expose themselves to as many opportunities as I can so that they can find the passion for whatever they want to do in their life."

Dracy McCoy, Principal hired Mr. Mahitka, she stated, "Mr. Mahitka is a strong addition to our CTE program. His experience, knowledge of Agriculture Leadership, and vision for the program has allowed our students to engage in career pathways of interest."

Mahitka is a welcome to Winlock, no doubt he likes kids. Steve and his wife Michelle have 5 kids, a larger family for today's standards. His kids are: Kohlten, Sydney, Taylor ,Payton and Brayden. Welcome to Winlock School District, we know you will do great things for the students.