Faculty Spotlight: Monty Larsen

Monty Larsen
Meet Monty Larsen, a lecturer in the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication Department at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln.
February 8, 2023

What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

My position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is as a faculty lecturer. However, my role is a three-fold position as I am serving in outreach support of agricultural and skilled technical science (STS) educators throughout our state. I also supervise student teachers, and I am seeking to find the next generation of agricultural, STS, or STEM teachers through program visits and professional development opportunities. I would like to support all levels of agricultural and STS educators by mentoring and building a rapport to develop sustainable, systematic support for teachers and the programs they are developing.

What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has always been near and dear to my heart as I consider the decision to attend the University as an undergraduate was one of those life-altering events which changed the trajectory of my life. While in high school, I didn’t always consider the University as an option to extend my education until my sophomore year of high school when I attended the Nebraska Society of Range Management Range Camp and Dr. Steve Waller was one of the camp facilitators. I recall his passion to range science, agriculture and Nebraska and it sold me on where I should continue my education. I would like to think I will always recall that early experience with Dr. Steve Waller and remind myself of how passion, enthusiasm and outreach can impact students and change lives.

Additionally, IANR, CASNR and the ALEC Department all seem like a tight knit community which encouraged me to make a ‘life-shift’ and continue my career at UNL after 21 years in the classroom as an ag teacher. Working with Dr. Balschweid and the rest of the Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication Department has convinced me that I am at the right place as it feels like family whenever I am on campus or visiting them via Zoom, over the phone or even by email. Their passion for making a positive difference in the lives of students is evident in everything they do and I am very excited to be a part of such an innovative, compassionate and caring group of colleagues.

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?

As I mentioned previously, I truly understand the impact educators can have on students' lives. Teaching may seem daunting and overwhelming, however it can also be inspiring and exhilarating. A quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson sums up what education can be as ‘nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm’ and even though we’re facing teacher shortages, post-Covid strain and burnout, it inspires me to meet teachers and see the exciting things happening in their schools and programs and the impact they are making in their students’ lives.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I am most proud of my family, and I consider being a great husband, father, son, brother and now grandfather being my absolute priority. My late father served as my mentor and role model and always set a priority toward family as well as education. However, I consider my greatest achievement to be the path I have taken which has led me into and throughout my career. Even though I started at UNL as an Agricultural Education major, but with the infinite wisdom of an 18-year-old, I changed my major to Animal Science. My animal science degree did serve me well as I experienced the livestock industry at a very diverse and extensive level and allowed me to expand the family operation and grow my Registered Angus cowherd (which was started as a 4-H and FFA project). While at UNL, I was also on the livestock judging team which enhanced my public speaking skills, confidence and problem-solving ability. However the teaching/coaching ‘bug’ really never left me, and I was involved with coaching football and softball teams after college which led to some substitute teaching and FFA competition judging experiences. Then 13 years after graduating from UNL, a neighbor and mentor, D. Russel Lechtenberg, asked if I would consider agricultural education and a teaching certificate. Dr. Lloyd Bell was an outstanding mentor and guided me through the transitional teaching certificate and graduate coursework process which eventually allowed me to find my purpose and follow my passion - agricultural education.

What is something that most people don't know about you?

I LOVE TO COOK!!! Barbeque, Baking, Stir-fry, Grilling, you name it I enjoy creating meals to fill stomachs and warm hearts. If I have time, I like to try new recipes or concoct my own creation. I even toured the Pioneer Woman’s kitchen in Pawhuska, Oklahoma with my wife. I don’t consider myself an expert or chef, but I would like to be considered a ‘good cook’.

What is your life like outside of work?

Besides cooking, I enjoy being outdoors and like to fish, hunt, golf, and camp whenever time allows and I enjoy gardening, landscaping and mowing my lawn gives me my ‘farmer fix’. More recently, I REALLY enjoy being a grandparent. However, I am truly a football fanatic and can be found watching football whether it’s on TV or if I’m taking in a junior high or high school game. I’m also very hopeful to see the Husker’s return to dominance soon. Go Big Red!

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Ag Leadership