Family-iliar story

By Colin Foster

February 14, 2014

By Colin Foster

PLEASANT HILL — Agriculture is in Jessica Helsinger’s blood.

Her dad, Joe Slone, has been an agricultural education teacher at National Trail for more than 30 years. She met her husband, Collin, when she was on a trip as a state FFA officer.

Helsinger is currently in her first year as agricultural education teacher and FFA adviser at Newton and Covington. Prior to that, she spent four years at Marlington Local Schools in Stark County.

“There’s two most important things in the world in my opinion … there’s agriculture and there’s education,” Helsinger said. “My dad always said ‘I wish you would do something bigger, like you can do something better than what I’m doing.’ But what is better? I’m influencing two of the most important aspects of life every single day with kids.”

Helsinger, who graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in career and technical education, advises 20 students in Newton’s FFA program and 28 at Covington, which brought the program back for the first time in more than 20 years. She spends the first half of her day at Newton and the other half at Covington. Helsinger took over at Newton for long-time agricultural teacher Kirk Kadel.

“I love it because I’m bringing a program to two schools that, without one another, this year especially, wouldn’t have retained a program. From that aspect, I really like it,” she said.

The upcoming week should be an exciting one at both Newton and Covington as National FFA Week kicks into gear. The two schools, along with Miami East, have many fun events planned throughout the week.

Helsinger, who has a 3-year-old daughter named Emma, said her goal is to continue to build the programs and retain the numbers from year to year.

When it is finally time to hang up her teaching boots, Helsinger said she hopes to leave a lasting legacy like her father did on so many young people’s lives.

“I got to see people coming back to the fair year after year, and talking to my dad about how he changed their life and how he impacted their life … I kept telling him ‘I saw what you did and I want to have that influence on people, as well,’” she said.

Colin Foster may be reached at 937-440-5208 or followed on Twitter @colinfosterbg or @Troydailynews