By: Mollie Lastovica
With a passion for service and agriculture at his core, Pete Dreisbach, Ph.D., humbly accepted his recognition as one of 12 Champions of Change in 4-H and FFA on October 9. The distinction, bestowed by the White House, recognizes outstanding community members’ efforts to make a difference in the world.
Dreisbach graduated from the ALEC department with a Ph.D. in agricultural education in 1985.
“Being an Aggie has had an absolutely critical impact on my daily life,” Dreisbach said. “Professionalism, passion for agricultural education and FFA – a lot of that was shaped at Texas A&M.”
He served as Director of the Kentucky FFA Leadership Training Center for over 25 years and during that time played a major role in positively developing Kentucky youth involved in FFA.
“We saw about 3,000 participants per year, which was close to 12 percent of the Kentucky FFA population,” Dreisbach said. “I got the most satisfaction out of the curriculum we developed at the Leadership Training Center. Everything we taught had a focus on leadership.”
His contributions to society are duly noted by all who have worked with Dreisbach, but he does not focus on the recognition. His heart for service was developed at a very young age and it is with this perspective that he has led his life.
“My father was a medical missionary. He graduated number one in his class but chose a life of service working for the poorest of the poor in Africa,” Dreisbach said. “Serving the community is absolutely essential. It is the very purpose of why we exist. We all want to make our lives of importance and value and what we do in the lives of those in the community and young people is what really matters.”
Dreisbach credits Texas A&M for embracing service learning as a core value and appreciates the continued focus on giving back that he was able to maintain as a student at A&M.
“My role model was looking at my parents and seeing a life of service. I saw them sacrificing for people who could never repay them,” Dreisbach said. “I came to Texas A&M with this as my world view and it was reinforced through people I looked up to in my education.”
He speaks highly of his time in the ALEC department and mentions a number of faculty members including Gary Briers, Ph.D., James Christiansen, Ph.D., and Alvin Larke, Jr., Ph.D., and thanks them for helping him get to where he is today.
“They were able to see in me strengths that I didn’t know I had,” Dreisbach said. “They would give me responsibilities and had expectations and then they would step back and I had to work for it. They are family to me – they are my family. I love them dearly. They made me always want to make A&M proud.”
His distinction as a Champion of Change paralleled his private retirement from the Kentucky Leadership Training Center. Now residing in Grand Haven, Mich., Dreisbach sees this recognition as a culmination of his career and contributions, thus far, to the field of agricultural education.
“For me, it was recognition that 30 years of service has not only been acknowledge but it has been infectious and hopefully will continue to be infectious. They didn’t realize that I was in the process of retiring so it made me feel really good and hopefully it made Texas A&M proud,” Dreisbach said. “The agriculture teachers that emotionally expressed to me an appreciation for what their students and they had learned from the Leadership Training Center would have to be my favorite memory.”
While he is settling into the retired life, Dreisbach plans to remain active in agricultural education through substitute teaching and international work in Ecuador.
“I have a lot to see and do with youth development and agriculture at the top of my priorities,” Dreisbach said. “‘Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with my God’- Micah 6:8. I hope when people look back on my life that’s what they see as my legacy.”
To learn more about the Champions of Change program, click here.