Columbus County FFA teacher selected at ‘Teacher of the Week’

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CERRO GORDO, NC (WWAY) – A teacher at a school in Columbus County has made it his mission to educate and groom a new generation of livestock farmers and veterinarians.

Fred McPherson teaches agriculture science at West Columbus High School in Cerro Gordo. He’s also the advisor for the school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter.

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While students receive traditional instruction in the classroom focusing on responsible farming techniques, they really seem to enjoy time spent outside at a barn located next to the high school football field.

Freshman Aubree Strickland wants to become a veterinarian and that’s why she signed up for McPherson’s class.

“I’ve always had a passion for agriculture and animals,” she said.



Less than two years old, the barn houses a mini horse and three cows. In the near future, they plan to add chickens and pigs.

After hearing what McPherson has done in the two decades he’s taught at the school to promote agriculture and livestock farming, we picked him as our WWAY and Wilmington Granite Teacher of the Week.

“Columbus County is not a rich county, we’re rich in people but we don’t have a lot of resources and the news cycle lately has been about us closing schools,” McPherson said. “This just goes to show you that a lot of good things happen in Columbus County and it has to do with our students.”

As the state’s agriculture industry continues to evolve, McPherson says the barn — built by volunteers, students and community partners — is one way the school has shifted the curriculum from agriculture production to animal science.

“We’re close to the top in the production of turkeys and swine in the country, and its important that we train our children to take those jobs when they graduate high school and it may be a lower paying job or it may be a veterinarian,” McPherson said.

The class offers a balance of traditional classroom instruction as well as hands-on work involving feeding and caring for livestock.

“We want to make sure these students understand where their food and fiber comes from and this is an avenue we can teach them that a hamburger comes from these cows, or milk comes from a diary cow, or eggs come from chickens,” he said.

As for being recognized as our ‘Teacher of the Week,’ McPherson said, “I’m very appreciative, I’m honored, I’m shocked, I appreciate everything WWAY has done to make this possible.”

Principal Jeff Greene says its great to highlight teachers McPherson because they don’t get a lot of other rewards.

“If you going to go above and beyond and you never hear nothing from it, that takes a little away from it you know people appreciate it,” Greene said. “It helps teachers keep going.”

McPherson says teaching isn’t about the money or accolades.

“It’s about touching these students in some way, and hopefully, at the end of the day, when you put your 30 years in, you can look back and see that veterinarian that’s successful or you can see that school administrator that’s successful no matter what they do–know that I’ve had a part in it,” he said.

If you know a great teacher at your school deserving our Teacher of the Week recognition, we want to know about them. Click here to send us your nomination. Each week’s winner receives a $100 gift card.