ZEPHYR — The school year is less than two weeks old, and Zephyr school principal Kelsa Blair and superintendent Stanton Marwitz like what they see in new high school ag teacher Derek Ahearn.

The 31-year-old Gustine native has been in education for seven years, and his entire career has been in coaching — until now. Ahearn joined the Zephyr district as ag teacher after working previously in the Blanket school district coaching basketball.

Ahearn has “got the kids excited” and created an “excitement in the air” about ag education, Marwitz said.

Marwitz and Blair stressed that they’re not discounting the previous accomplishments of ag education in Zephyr but noted that Ahearn is bringing a revamped and more well rounded program.

“There is a tradition that he wants to continue with, but also some new things he would like to offer to the students from a different aspect of ag,” Marwitz said. “There is an excitement in the air with the students based on the things they have done in a short time during this school year.”  

Ahearn said he had a passion for ag as a high school student, and he took ag classes at Cisco Jr. College before transferring to Tarleton State University. Ahearn earned a kinesiology degree, and his first job after college was as an assistant coach in the Zephyr school district.

Ahearn said he wanted to leave the demands that coaching placed on his schedule so he could spend more time with family.

“I’m enjoying it real well,” Ahearn said of his new job, adding that he loves “seeing the light click on with kids.”

Programs that will be added in Zephyr’s ag education include auto mechanics, wildlife management and hunter and boater education, Ahearn said.

Ahearn’s students have already completed several projects including reflooring, sealing and installing lights on a flatbed trailer; building a barbecue pit which is at the Diamond R and is for sale; repairing the legs on a deer feeder; building train cars for the Fall Fest; and making a coffee table out of a wooden barrel.

Marwitz said the excitement that Ahearn has generated is what makes people “thrive and try to become better at what they do.”