Ag Ed Alumni Spotlight: Chris Ovrebo

Chris OvreboChris Ovrebo is an Agricultural Education alumnus with a rich history at the University of Minnesota: he has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Industries and Marketing (2002), a Master of Education in Agricultural Education (2011), and a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in PK-12 Administration (2014). As a former commodities broker, ag teacher, and now a high school principal, he is an excellent example of where a career in agricultural education can take you!

What is your current job title and school?
I am currently the 7-12 High School Principal at Medford High School (MN).

Tell us about your background. For example, where did you grow up, how are you connected to agricultural education, and what positions have you held?
I grew up in the Red River Valley and spent my high school years working on a sugar beet, spring wheat, and soybean farm near Halstad, MN. My first experience with agricultural education was in classes with Mr. (Randy) Zimmerman at Norman County West. I competed in the crops contest and eventually earned my American Degree. I attended the University of Minnesota in St. Paul to earn my undergraduate degree and spent four years as a commodities broker before returning to the University of Minnesota to earn my initial licensure in Agricultural Education. Every year, Mr. Zimmerman would invite me to the annual chapter dinner during State Convention and between him, Dr. Brad Greiman, and Dr. Roland Peterson, they finally convinced me to take the plunge and return to get my ag ed license. I student taught with Barry Schmidt at Montgomery-Lonsdale (now Tri-City United) and began teaching with Tim Larson at Medford High School in the fall of 2007. I taught agricultural education for 7 years before moving to the high school principal role last year. This is my 9th year in education. My leadership training and desire to take on a leadership role within schools inspired me to make the difficult choice of moving from the classroom to administration.

Was there an experience, or a person in particular who influenced you to become an ag educator, and eventually, a principal?
My desire to make a difference and serve the larger agricultural community were the reasons that I went into agricultural education. I kept coming back to the fact that the people I most wanted to be like were ag teachers. To have a chance to touch so many young people’s lives and inspire them to pursue a career in agriculture was the reason I went into teaching. Seeing opportunities to further influence lives and use my leadership training in a school leadership role is what inspired me to take on a job in school leadership. I owe so much to the ag teacher mentors that I have had that have taught me how to get things done and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use skills that I gained as an agricultural educator to lead my school.

What first attracted you to the University of Minnesota's Ag Ed program?
The people at the U of M were the ones that attracted me. Dr. Peterson, Dr. Greiman, and Dr. Joerger were three influential people.

Do you have advice for current U of M students?
My advice for current U of M students is to take on as many challenges as you can. College is when you will have the most time to discover what you truly want to do. Take part in as many clubs, activities, and groups as you can. You should be inspired by the classes you take in your major and be excited when you leave classes that are related to your future career. Don’t pick something easy – you’ll get bored quickly in your profession.

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
My greatest professional accomplishment is seeing my former students choose agricultural education and become good ag teachers and seeing the student teachers that we had become accomplished ag teachers.

What is your favorite U of M memory/experience?
My favorite U of M memory is getting an opportunity to meet and talk with a personal hero, Norman Borlaug, during commencement a few years ago.

How have your experiences at the U of M helped you in your professional and personal life?
The U of M has the highest standards for its students. They expect more out of their students. Each of the degree program, I have been a part of, has been more rigorous and difficult than programs offered by other institutions, but I finished with a considerable edge on the competition based on my better preparation.

Chris’s Favorites:
Animal: Walleye
Color: Green
Food: Anything cooked on my grill
Movie: Christmas Vacation