It is funny how sometimes life can bring a person full circle back to where they started, only this time to serve a new purpose; a new role. Friendswood High School Ag Science Teacher and FFA Sponsor Trevor Reifel was someone who experienced the full circle moment in life when he started as an FFA student and came back as an FFA teacher.
Graduating from FHS in 1997, Reifel left the town where he had been raised his entire life and set his sights on Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. Though he was a couple of hours from home, Reifel never stopped thinking about Friendswood. Because he did not have classes on Fridays, Reifel would make the drive back and spend his day off substituting at FHS each week. He knew he enjoyed teaching then, but with his degree in animal science, Reifel accepted a job in the swine industry out in Oklahoma after graduating.
“It was not the place for me,” Reifel laughed. “So, I moved back to Friendswood and felt lost for what I was going to do, so I started subbing again. Then, I worked in special education before I got asked to apply for the ag teaching job and now here I am, and I love it.”
The position was especially meaningful to Reifel because of the love he had for FFA when he was a student.
“[FFA] was probably one of the most fun things I did in high school,” Reifel said. “It’s different now than when I was in school. The program is a little bit larger, but we are teaching kids the same things that were taught to me when I was a student: responsibility, time-management, and taking care of things that are relying on you for their life.”
Taking care of animals is something that comes naturally for Reifel.
“My love for animals stems from when I was growing up,” Reifel said. “My grandfather had cattle all my life, and in turn, I started raising cattle, and now my dad and I raise cattle. It’s what I do; if I’m not here [at the Ag Barn], then I’m at the farm taking care of stuff over there. It’s my life.”
He said he learned the value of hard work from his parents.
“My parents inspire me,” Reifel stated. “They have never settled; they just go for it and get it done, and that’s the way they taught us to do things. Now, I just put my head down and get to work and get after it.”
This lesson is one that Reifel has passed on to his students.
“Mr. Reifel is a good role model for students like me because he is sweet and caring for each and every one of us but doesn’t put up with laziness when it comes to our responsibilities,” senior FFA student Gracie Kempken said. “He has taught me to never let failure get in the way of my dreams. Even when I fail, I must get up, brush myself off, and push forward.”
“Mr. Reifel has pushed me to become not only a better student but also a better person because he goes along with all of my crazy ideas and dreams,” Kempken said. “He helps me find ways to make it possible and picks me back up when it doesn’t go as planned. He has constantly been a shoulder to lean or cry on since the seventh grade.”
While Reifel’s bond with his students is lifelong, he also wants to establish a lifelong appreciation for agriculture in each of them.
“I want them to have an appreciation for where their food and fiber come from and realize they can’t just walk up to HEB and it automatically appears,” he stated. “I want them to understand that somebody had to work the field, plant the seed, fertilize it, harvest it, package it – there are so many steps to that food getting on their table. I want them to realize what it takes to get to it and have a better appreciation for the products that are raised in agriculture.”
All of the time it takes to put food on the table is something Reifel’s students have been able to learn through raising animals. As the Spring approaches, FFA students will be traveling all over the State to show their animals.
“It gives the kids a chance to show off what they’ve been working toward all year,” Reifel stated. “It’s their Friday night on the field, it’s their Tuesday night on the court, it’s their time to shine.”
However, Kempken said Reifel makes his students feel like they are shining every day.
“Mr. Reifel is like a second dad to me and many other students,” Kempken stated. “He protects and cares for each and every kid that comes through his classroom. He jokes with you to ease your nerves but gets serious when the time is right. He is the kind of man that is there with open arms when you’re having a rough day but will make sure you get down to business and work hard for your dreams. He is there every step of the way for each of his students.”
Friendswood ISD is so grateful Mr. Reifel’s circle led him back to us because of the incredible impact he is making on our schools and on our students. We know that he will only continue to do great things and inspire more of our kids to pursue their dreams.