Spotlight Susan Hilleary

Agriculture teacher and advisor Susan Hilleary “is enjoying, getting back to all the things that we missed last year such as field trips, FFA events and hands-on learning.”
Hilleary graduated from Western Albemarle High School where they did not have an agriculture program. After graduating, Hilleary attended Virginia Tech (VT) where she received her undergraduate in animal science. She then joined the U.S. Army and later went to the University of Hawaii where she concentrated in food science.
Hilleary taught horticulture for 12 years before switching to agriculture last year. “I really enjoy hands-on projects and try to focus on those in my classes. I really can’t pick a favorite. I like different aspects of all of the classes,” said Hilleary.
This year, the agriculture class has chickens, quail, ducks and a turkey. They also have pigs, fish bees, a cat, two rabbits, a guinea pig, a chinchilla, a dove and a tortoise. Hilleary wants her students to leave the class “confident in their ability to learn and do new things, to solve problems, and to make the world a better place because of their actions.”
Students enrolled in agriculture are automatically members of the FFA. “The FFA is not just for farm kids or country kids. As a teenager, I never thought I would pursue agriculture because I did not know what it was about. But after I tried it, I can’t imagine life without it,” said Hilleary.
Both Hilleary and her husband have jobs in the agricultural field. “Agriculture embraces a spirit of self-reliance that suits us and provides a thousand new ideas to explore every day,” said Hilleary. “Producing the food that sustains human life is a most important human endeavor. The FFA is the most meaningful way to connect students to this reality and to the agriculture way of life.”