WHITEHALL, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Many say farmers are the small-town heroes that keep our communities moving forward. In our series Harvesting Heroes, we celebrate agriculture workers, whose hard work and innovation make a difference. Each month we’ll tell the story of a harvesting hero and their contributions to agriculture in our region.

Tonight, Rob Grover brings us the story of an area couple and their education efforts.

I’m Rob Grover. Today on Harvesting Heroes we talk to Shane and Melinda Goplin. A couple who promotes agricultural education both on the farm and in the classroom.

“Hi, I’m Shane Goplin. I am the president of the Trempealeau County Farm Bureau. I also own and operate HV Acres LLC along with my family and employees. Our family settled here in the 1870s. Since that time, we’ve been within two miles of the homestead. Presently we run a cash grain and forage farm. We raise corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. You know, there’s nothing out there that I would rather do,” said Shane.

“Melinda is the Ag teacher in Whitehall High School. In 1996 Whitehall did not have an Ag program. But, when we were going to get married, I cannot move my farm, so she went out and got it going and that’s since 1996. She very impressive in her role and very passionate,” said Shane.

Melinda Goplin said, “As agriculture instructor and FFA advisor, my job is to teach agriculture to 7-12th graders. That includes everything from plant science, animal science, environmental science, and a little bit of everything in between.”

“It’s changed a lot. When I first got here, there were still quite a few dairy farms in the area, so the students were naturally a little familiar with the animal sciences and crops and things like that. And today I have very, very few kids who grew up on a farm. Even in rural white hall, where we would assume that there are a lot of farm kids – the cliental has really changed, said Melinda.

Shane said, “It’s important for kids to know about agriculture to know where their food comes from. And there’s a lot of myths, but we need to share our story of what happens to that kernel of corn once it you know, put it in the ground and how it grows.”

“Every single student that sits in my classroom or works in the greenhouse are consumers ultimately. And it’s important that as a consumer they understand where their products come from, what goes into producing those things. Whether it’s in a 500-acre field or a 20 by 30 greenhouse,” said Melinda.

“I take what Shane does on the farm and bring it to the classroom and explain why we do the things that we do. Where are the misconceptions? You know, this is what my students think you do, this is what you really do, so let’s take that back to the students and prepare them for a better understanding altogether,” said Melinda.