2023 Council Scholarship recipient Joseph Tuttle of Drummond knew from a young age that he wanted to go into agriculture, specifically agriculture education to work with youth. “Growing up, my family had a small hobby farm, and we still do,” he says. Joseph and his siblings grew vegetables and fruits and raised chickens, pigs, sheep and the occasional turkey. “My siblings and I were also very active in 4-H for our whole childhood,” he says. “I’m still involved in 4-H as a member of the Purdue Collegiate 4-H club.”
Like for many, 4-H was a launching pad for Joseph, who carries a 3.1 grade point average in his senior year at Purdue University. As far as choosing to be an educator, “that originated from when I was in high school,” he says. “I would commonly help out my peers and siblings with their homework and I really enjoyed doing that. I especially liked seeing their faces brighten when they understood a new concept that I was explaining to them. That’s where my passion for teaching came from.”
Joseph will put that passion to work in the classroom this year when he begins his student teaching term at Prairie Heights High School in LaGrange, Indiana. “Being a student teacher is basically the free trial for being a teacher,” Joseph says. This semester, he’ll be in charge of four different classes at Prairie Heights. “I’ll do everything for those classes,” he says. “I’ll teach the students, come up with activities and assignments, and grade everything I assign.”
Joseph has made the most of educational opportunities outside the classroom too. Last summer he was an intern with Montana State University Extension. “I worked with a county 4-H Extension office, assisted in planning 4-H livestock events, 4-H summer camps, and I helped put on the county fair,” he says.
The Montana internship was not the first time Joseph traveled to a summer experience. He spent the summer after his freshman year in Brookston, Indiana at Camp Tecumseh YMCA, where he served as a counselor for nine weeks. During the summer of 2022, he developed new programming and education events for all ages at a 96-acre orchard in Nebraska City, Nebraska.
Joseph says his travels have been as enlightening for him as the work he accomplished at his various destinations. “While in Nebraska, I had to learn a whole new city,” he says. “I needed to find where the orchard was as well as the grocery store and other important places. I had to do all of this while riding a bike because I cannot drive.” These experiences have been confidence builders for Joseph. “I am confident enough in myself to go to new places and figure it out,” he says.
For people with vision loss, travel often involves pushing oneself outside a comfort zone. Joseph’s experiences have already served him well when counseling young students. Last semester Joseph observed and taught at a middle school. While there, he worked with a visually impaired student whose parents wanted him to go on a summer Future Farmers of America trip to Indianapolis. The student was worried about making the trip.
“I told him how nervous I was when I first got to Purdue and again when I arrived in Nebraska,” Joseph says. “Through my experiences, I showed this student that even though he is going to a new place, he can still have a good time and be okay.”
“This scholarship has meant so much to me,” Joseph reflects. “It’s allowed me to complete my studies at Purdue. It has not only helped me with paying tuition but also with housing and purchasing the assistive technology that I needed.”
“Beyond the scholarship, the support of the council has been a huge benefit to me,” Joseph adds. “It shows me that there are many people with visual impairments such as my own who have succeeded in their lives and jobs, and they serve as role models and as something to strive for in my own life.”