Chad Murphy Leads ‘an Average Chapter’ That is Anything but Average
March 19, 2021
Written By Neal Fandek
Chad Murphy is the ag education instructor for Versailles High School, Morgan County R-II, and sponsors the local FFA chapter, which he humbly characterizes as “a well-rounded program, a good average chapter.”
He teaches Agriculture Science I for freshmen, Agriculture Science II for sophomores, Agriculture Construction (shop work, welding), a one-semester veterinary science class, Crop Science, a conservation and natural resources class, Agriculture Occupational Experience and Ag Power. The latter class restores tractors: a classic John Deere 3020 last year and an Allis-Chalmers this year. He’s been a teacher for 27 solid years.
In his signature humility, he says he’s had “some success” through the years. This is what “some success” in an “average chapter” looks like:
- Past American FFA degree recipients: 41
- Past state FFA degree recipients: 63
- Area FFA officers: 7
- Years recognized as a superior FFA chapter: 27
- First-place Proficiency Award Winners: 49
- State FFA qualifying contest teams: 76
He’s also won two awards for outstanding ag education contribution: the Honorary State FFA Degree and the Honorary American FFA Degree. The former is for individual contributions to ag and FFA education at the state level. The national award honors individuals “who have provided exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, agricultural education, or FFA” and “teachers who have created high-quality agricultural education programs which inspire and motivate their students to strive for success,” according to the FFA website.
He’s accomplished this in the shadow of the pandemic. His school closed for a few weeks, many FFA activities were curtailed or canceled, and many students simply stayed at home. “It’s very hard to teach what I teach in a virtual situation,” he says. “This year has sure enough been a struggle for me, for parents, for everyone.”
Testimonials from former students speak to his success despite that struggle:
“You’re teaching what’s real and every day in the life of a student who lives in a rural area,” Clairissa Hayden writes. “Helping them understand this is key, to their future and the future of ag. I can’t say many do it better.”
“There was not a single day that was wasted in the ag building,” Bethany Oshel adds. “He helped grow the love for animals, plants, welding and so many other farm and leadership values in his students. He pushed each student to step out of their comfort zone and grow. FFA has been more than an ag-based program in Mr. Murphy’s classroom. It became a family that offered support and friendship.”
Cody Nichols says the welding skills Murphy taught were so valuable he landed a job right out of high school, then started his own welding business and bought and operated a farm where he continues to use the lessons Murphy taught.
“Chad has had such a positive impact on so many students over the years,” says Krista Wilson, principal of Versailles High School. “He works with students starting freshmen year and continues to meet with and assist students well after graduation. He is dedicated to his program and does whatever he can to help a student succeed. He is a great guy!”
He’s also driven a bus for 27 years, currently a handicapped route, picking up and delivering students who need a wheelchair-accessible bus. In his limited spare time, he plays bass and rhythm guitar in country and rock bands and competes in team roping in local rodeos and in his own arena.
If that’s average, it’s impossible to imagine what extraordinary looks like.