Ashley Dunkerley didn’t grow up with the conventional FFA experience. Typically, students begin their involvement with their chapters in eighth or ninth grade, but Dunkerley, whose father is an agriculture science teacher, started much younger than that.
“I grew up going to FFA conventions, going to Ag teachers’ conferences, going to contests,” says Dunkerley. “I was the little kid on the bus with all the high school kids who thought that she was so cool because she was with all the teenagers.”
Dunkerley is now the communications coordinator for the Texas FFA, Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas (VATAT)and the Texas FFA Foundation.
“For me, this is a way of giving back to the organization that helped me grow up,” says Dunkerley.
Dunkerley’s father, Tony Dunkerley, has taught agriculture science at Henrietta High School for over 20 years. She credits him as well as another Ag teacher, Shane Crafton, for encouraging her to get to where she is today
“I think that in any Ag education experience, any FFA experience, the Ag teachers really do make a huge difference in how those students develop…I was lucky enough to have two very, very good teachers that encouraged me to get involved and stay involved.”
With her background as the daughter of an Ag educator and in her current role with VATAT, Dunkerley has an inside look and deep appreciation for everything that the Ag teacher does for his students and his school.
“Ag teachers are some of the hardest working, most dedicated teachers out there,” she says. “They spend countless hours at the school or working with kids on projects…I get to work with 2,000-plus fantastic Ag teachers in Texas, and each one has a different story, each one has a different approach. But in the end, they all have the same goal, and they all accomplish it.”
From Dunkerley’s experience and from what we at PIERCE have observed in the Ag educators that we know, that goal is to encourage students, not only in competitions, but in their daily lives and in their futures. This is exactly why PIERCE is pulling for Ag teachers across the state. The hours, the time, the conversations with students, the support and the encouragement—they are the epitome of what we stand for as a company, and we believe they deserve to be recognized.
As an official corporate sponsor of the Texas FFA, we are running the #PULLINGFORYOU photo challenge this month as an opportunity for Ag students to show appreciation for their teachers as well as enter for a chance to win a cash prize for their chapter. But to us, this is much more than a fun photo contest; it’s a way to encourage the important work Ag teachers are doing in the lives of their students, whether that’s working on a project after school, getting ready for competitions or simply having a conversation with a student on the bus on the way there.
“My dad and Crafton always did a really good job of making me and [other] kids feel that what [we] had to say was important,” says Dunkerley. “…they were also able to instill some great qualities in us as we traveled and as we competed along the road.”
We want Ag teachers to know that PIERCE is pulling for them as they’re pulling for their kids—kids who will grow up to be leaders and change-makers in their communities. Kids like Ashley Dunkerley.
“I was so lucky to be raised by an Ag teacher,” says Dunkerley. “I have a very close relationship with my dad, and I think a lot of that derived from him not only being my dad, but my Ag teacher…I really do give credit to the FFA program and getting involved in it. Luckily, I’m able to give back the way that I am today.”
Visit My Texas FFA to learn more about Ag teachers and how they’re "Pulling For You" in their schools and in their students.