GUIDING AG STUDENTS EACH STEP OF THE WAY
While studying veterinary medicine at Oregon State University, Megan Dilson could not have anticipated all the hats she would be wearing more than a decade hence.
Each hat the Gervais High School FFA teacher wears fits well within the school’s curricula; together they suit Megan for recognition as Pamplin Media Group’s Woodburn-area Amazing Educator for 2022.
GHS Principal Ken Stott fully endorses that designation.
“Megan is hard working, devoted to her students, passionate about good teaching and very creative,” Stott said. “She is innovative, creating activities daily that engage students and make the content three dimensional.”
“Given that she is teaching five different preps in her five periods per day, that is really quite a feat,” Stott explained. “She may be showing students how to castrate an animal first period, discussing healthy forests second period, teaching students to weld third period, and baking pies with students after that.
“Her energy is unfailing; she is patient and has no behavioral issues in her classroom,” Stott added.
Megan speaks modestly about the road travelled to Gervais, where she is in her fifth year as a teacher and FFA advisor.
Her father, Wolfgang Dilson, and her mother, Margie Dilson, are immigrants from Germany and Holland respectively. Dad was an educator at OSU. Megan was raised on the family’s hobby farm, participated in 4H, and graduated from Crescent Valley High School with her next step laid out.
“My dad taught German at OSU, so there was no doubt about where I was going to school,” Megan recalled.
“I went to OSU to study veterinary medicine, and I failed miserably,” Megan revealed. “I ended up with my bachelor’s in animal science.”
That would steer her in a well-suited direction.
One day OSU ag educator Greg Thompson called Megan into his office and persuaded her to enter the agricultural education program. Two years later she received her master’s degree.
Megan’s first job at Roseburg High School posed unfamiliar duties, FFA, in an unfamiliar place.
“It was my first job, and everything was new and exciting, and I was new to FFA in general,” Megan said.
She did have a heart-wrenching experience, though, when one of her Roseburg students enrolled at Umpqua Community College and on his first day of attendance became a victim of the Oct. 1, 2015, mass shooting at the school.
After four years in Douglas County, Megan decided to return to the Willamette Valley and live closer to home. She had not heard of Gervais, but she was encouraged to apply for a position opening at GHS.
It was a perfect fit.
Megan discovered her charges not only incorporated her formal education, but also chores from the farm where she tended animals, orchards and learned to drive a tractor at age 7.
“A major part of my day is being in charge of our (FFA) barn if we have animals present — market animals or animals for education purposes or animal science classes,” she said. “I’m in charge of our welding shop; I teach students different methods of welding.”
She picked up welding by spending a couple of days learning from a skilled tradesman, gleaning the rest from the web.
“The only thing I’m talented at is I’m quick to pick up on things,” Megan jested.
In a given semester Megan’s duties range from metal shop to food sciences and meal prep to forest sciences to animal care. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That’s exactly why I like it,” Megan said. “I like the variety throughout the day. I could be starting my morning teaching someone to drive the tractor and end my day vaccinating animals or in the greenhouse transplanting plants.”
That’s appreciated in Gervais.
“She works so hard every single day to reach all of her students,” GHS teacher Suzanne Bustamante said. “As teachers we all work really hard to do this, but her dedication is phenomenal.”
Stott agreed, noting specific endeavors: spearheading GHS FFA barn-building project; organizing auctions and fundraisers; raising animals; hosting an annual pumpkin-patch giveaway.
“She’s an excellent colleague on staff, never failing to volunteer to lead a meeting or guide a new teacher,” Stott said. “And that doesn’t even begin to count her work with students in FFA, the contests and competitions she’s hosted here, the field trips with students around the state or taking kids to the state and national conferences.”