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K-State Research and Extension News

Released: Sept. 14, 2016

Harbstreit eyes end of career that has spanned a half century

Noted educator has mentored more than half of state’s ag teachers

Steve Harbstreit

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Steve Harbstreit remembers the days when a little encouragement from a seventh grade agriculture teacher in Indiana and later a high school agriculture teacher in Missouri spurred him on to a career of serving others.

Nearly a half century later, Harbstreit has carved out quite a legacy in Kansas for serving agricultural education, having directly taught, mentored or graduated 128 of the current 223 teachers in the state.

Harbstreit, an associate professor in the Kansas State University College of Agriculture, recently announced that he will retire in January, 2017. He has taught agricultural education at Kansas State University since 1987. 

During his time in Kansas, agricultural education has grown from about 160 sites to more than 200 teachers and 185 programs. Harbstreit notes that the number of high school students in agricultural education grows consistently, and agricultural education is becoming more common in urban areas.

Harbstreit notes that a hallmark of the Kansas State University program is that he and others interact with graduates throughout their professional career. 

Harbstreit grew up in southern Indiana and Missouri where he participated in 4-H and FFA. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from the University of Missouri in 1971, a masters degree in education from Northwest Missouri State University in 1977, and a doctoral degree from the University of Missouri in 1987.

He taught high school agricultural education in northwest Missouri for 13 years.

He is a member of the American Association for Agricultural Education; the National Association of Agricultural Educators and Kansas Association of Agricultural Educators; and the Association of Career and Technical Education and Kansas Association of Career and Technical Education, the latter of which recently honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Harbstreit also received notice that he will receive the VIP award from the National FFA organization at its national convention in October. 

In retirement, Harbstreit said he plans to travel, spend time with family, and keep on serving others. He has plans to work on a national curriculum for agricultural mechanics, and he’d like to lead workshops for teachers. 


K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans.  Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.


Story by:

Pat Melgares
melgares@ksu.edu or 785-532-1160
K-State Research and Extension

For more information:
Kansas State University Department of Communications and Agricultural Education – 785-532-5804