Former teacher feted at fair
HUGHESVILLE – An event during the 2011 Lycoming County Fair identified and marked the lifelong effects of a teacher during decades with students. The Future Farmers of America (FFA) alumni, many former Hughesville and Montoursville High School (MHS) students, proposed special acknowledgement be given to August “Joe” Sauter, who’d spent 35 years at HHS as a vocational agriculture teacher.
The dedication held in the school building at the fair grounds Wednesday, July 13 honoring the teacher, was brought to fruition by former HHS student Donna Neufer Martin. The State College resident said, “Mr. Sauter is the world’s most respected, admired and noblest vocational agricultural teacher and FFA advisor ever.”
Martin, a 1980 HHS graduate grew up tending steers on the Huntersville farm of her grandfather, Fred Laubacher. “I was a quiet youngster who Mr. Sauter encouraged to write and present a speech on steers, my FFA project,” she said.
Martin called Sauter’s teaching inspirational and credits him with her choice to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Education at Penn State University.
Martin is not unlike many proponents of agronomy who use parts of their vacations time to work annually at the fair.
A display prepared for the occasion listed former FFA students gleaned from yearbooks plus some photos from by gone years. “I was told the day the event was scheduled, so it was a surprise,” Sauter said. He identified some former students in attendance as being Ed Derrick, Richard Gardner, Barry Sones, Mark Ream and husband and wife Jesse and Anita (Trick) Wagner. “I had Anita’s father George Trick as a student and saw grandchildren of some of my first students in later classes,” he said.
As a student, Sauder joined the FFA at Montoursville High School in 1947 and credits that as a stepping stone into his teaching career. In 1957, he joined the teaching staff at Hughesville seeing lots of changes over his decades of teaching. “Through the years the numbers of farmers have diminished, the FFA programs in the county at one time numbered eight with Picture and Hughesville both having the program. Consolidation of schools was also another reason for the depleting numbers,” Sauder said.
He also believes the country is headed down the wrong path as he has concerns about our ability to sustain ourselves.
He commented on recent gas company employment ads for individuals with agricultural and mechanical experience who could operate and maintain equipment. “These employers are looking for people with a good work ethic, not unlike my former students and those who’ve grown up on farms,” Sauder said.
The former teacher continues his relationship with the land north of Williamsport, aiding his son in raising cattle, growing corn and hay, tending a garden and gathering fire wood.