His path to ASU began at home in Marion, where he figured out early on that he wanted to be an agriculture teacher.
“I grew up raising hogs,” Brietzke said. “I started showing hogs in third grade and showing steers in sixth grade. I’ve been around agriculture my entire life, mostly the livestock side of it, and I’ve loved it. When I was a freshman in high school, I knew that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I figured ag education would be the best way for me to continue that passion.”
As a first-generation college student, the first step for Brietzke was two years at Blinn College, where he competed on the Livestock Judging Team. He was then recruited to transfer to ASU by Kris Ede, former coordinator of the Agriculture Department’s judging programs.
“I knew ASU had an up-and-coming ag education program with the faculty in place to develop good ag teachers,” Brietzke said. “All my Blinn teammates committed to Texas A&M or Texas Tech, but Kris told me ASU was really looking for students like me to help build up their program. When I got here, I just thought, ‘Why would anyone not want to come here?’”
“Now, I can say that the program has prepared me for the life I want,” he added. “It has helped me see into how students’ minds work. It has just been a great experience.”
That experience included two years on ASU’s Livestock Judging Team and membership in the Meat and Food Science Association and Delta Tau Alpha national agriculture honor society on his way to graduating summa cum laude in May with his bachelor’s degree in agricultural science and leadership with teacher certification. This past spring, he got his first taste of being a high school ag teacher during his student teaching assignment in Hondo.
“I had a really successful experience,” Brietzke said. “The first day I was there, we headed to a stock show. I also coached the livestock judging team and we actually won a contest at Texas State University. We were on the road a lot, but that is what ag teaching is all about, not only teaching in the classroom, but gaining that experience with students on the road and having those animal projects. Teaching them responsibility is very important and is the part I like the most.”
“There has not been a day when I’ve woken up and not been glad to be here.”
Apparently, though, he likes being at ASU even better as he is back this fall working on a master’s degree in animal science. A big factor in that decision was the recent opening of ASU’s new Mayer-Rousselot Agriculture Education Training Center that houses an open shop floor, welding gear, a computerized plasma metal-cutting table and other equipment for the education of future ag teachers.
“I actually gave a speech at the groundbreaking,” Brietzke said. “There is a lot of cool stuff in there, and I’m looking forward to spending more time there as a graduate student. It adds so many more opportunities for students to get hands-on experience. I’ve already seen some of the stuff they are doing, and it’s really great.”
“Where the ag education program is heading is going to be great over the next couple of years,” he added. “I was gone for a semester student teaching and I missed being here, so I’m excited for my next step. There has not been a day when I’ve woken up and not been glad to be here.”