Although Yavapai College Professor of Agribusiness Justin Brereton started as an instructor at the Chino Valley Campus as recently as 2010, he's quickly garnered the respect and admiration of his colleagues and students.
In January, Justin was one of three YC faculty and staff members to be recognized with a National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) 2013-14 Excellence Award. He also won Yavapai College’s Outstanding Chino Valley Full-time Faculty Award for the second year in a row.
Associate Dean for the Chino Valley campus Karla Phillips said, "Justin was instrumental in updating the Agriculture degree and horticulture certificate and continues to brainstorm new ways to meet the community needs in sustainable agriculture."
Karla also noted that Justin is "dedicated to promoting the college and the agriculture programs, works closely with dual enrollment instructors, and spends long hours working in the greenhouse and outdoor garden. His students often comment that he is the best instructor they have ever had."
Justin's passion for agriculture is evidenced by his recent history: He worked in Arizona's horticulture industry as an irrigation design estimator, a nursery manager and a greenhouse grower until 2005. From 2005-2010, he taught Agriculture at Mingus High School in Cottonwood. In 2007, Justin earned his Master's in Education from Grand Canyon University and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in horticulture and sustainable growing systems.
But it's not the awards or the up-to-his-elbows industry involvement that gives Justin the most pleasure—it's teaching his students.
"Every time the students harvest a large crop, have a successful plant sale, or just taste the salsa they individually grew all the ingredients for, I feel like I've taught them some skills that apply to many aspects of life such as perseverance, troubleshooting and work ethic," he said.
Justin continued, "Many students have never successfully grown anything in their lives. As they spend time at the MERF [Morgan Experimental Farm] or in the greenhouse, their excitement is contagious.
“The YC Horticulture Program and, on a larger scale, the Agribusiness Program, provides opportunities for students to prepare themselves for careers that they truly love,” Justin said. “Some of my students want to be more successful in their own backyards, some are prepared to use us as a stepping stone to further education at the university level, and some will go directly to work after gaining job skills. The students attending both my own and co-teacher Marnee Zazueta's classes get to work in state-of-the-art facilities, researching and implementing sustainable growing techniques to produce both food and other agriculture products.”