Teaching and music are his passions, but agriculture is in the blood of Jacob Andres. With the two, he’s giving back to the region that has helped him be what he is now. In total, the passions, the family traditions, the investment in the community and the courses of agriculture make Jacob Andres.
His passions began in sixth grade. Jacob Andres performed in the group as an alto saxophone player. He hated playing it, however. His grandfather then gave Jacob a tenor saxophone. Although they belong to the same class of instruments, alto and tenor saxophones play differently. Jacob Andres took his new instrument to practice, and Toby Weishaar, the college orchestra teacher, allowed him to switch instruments. One problem though: the band had a gig in a month. So Weishaar spent time away from school teaching and preparing Jacob Andres for the concert. When the gig came up he performed and even had a solo.
“It was crazy man. I did it. I don’t know how I did it, but I did it,” said Jacob Andres. “Toby was spending time after school giving me lessons. He wasn’t paid for that. And here is this kid who always has a runny nose with a tenor saxophone asking ‘hey, I can play that. That showed me at that point you have to give back to the next generation. ”
Although learning his tenor saxophone was a great experience for him, he decided to continue teaching music only in high school. A new orchestra teacher came to the high school while he was attending. Jacob Andres remembers him fondly.
“He was sympathetic,” said Jacob Andres. “He was young. He hooked up with us and it was like ‘wow that’s what a group leader should be.’ I’m all about teaching life skills and that’s where I learned it from him. ”
After graduating from high school, Jacob Andres attended Kansas Wesleyan University for his bachelor’s degree in music education. Then he attended Kansas State University for his masters to become principal. Currently, he is working towards obtaining his PhD in Instructional Design and Performance Technology.
“It’s a really fancy way of saying that I am integrating the way I teach in my classroom with technology,” he said. “It’s a really fancy title for something so simple.”
After graduation he went to Ottawa to teach, then returned to the area to teach at Chapman and now he works full time at South Salina Middle School as an assistant group director.
Jacob Andres’ agricultural roots began where he grew up: Solomon. Her father, Lin, worked on a local farm. In grade 12, his family moved outside of Solomon to farmland. Lin and Merlyn Andres, his mother, started their own hobby farm and still work it today. Jacob Andres said they wanted their hobby to turn into a full-scale farm.
“It’s always been a little bit in the blood,” said Jacob Andres.
Fast forward until it temporarily stop teaching. He resigned to start his family with his wife, Jennifer.
Loney and Bev Riffel, owners of Rock Creek Farm in Hope, Kansas, contacted Jennifer. The four met while Jacob Andres was teaching Chapman. The Riffeles needed help on their farm and asked if they could help. Jacob Andres agreed and he still works on their farm while teaching full time in Salina. And helps out on his parents’ hobby farm. And works in his own family’s garden. And take care of his wife and 2 year old son. And keeps the books for the college basketball and wrestling teams. And writes farming tips and news for the Midwest Messenger publication.
In other words, he’s a busy guy. But he always makes plans.
Invest in the community
Now Jacob Andres takes the energy that his teachers poured into him and pours it out on his students.
“What I always tell my students is that I don’t teach the group. I teach life. I just happen to do it through music. I tell my kids every day, if you go away becoming a better musician and not a better person, then I’ve let you down, ”said Jacob Andres. “You have to be a better person than a better musician. So I feel like my job is to help this next generation of kids be the best they can be, no matter what.
However, his teaching doesn’t stop in the classroom. He and his wife aim to integrate their education and farming into an after-school program in Abilene to get out, learn, temporarily forget about their life and learn to do basic farming.
“One of the things we want to do is teach them how to plant something, how to garden and then how to sell that product,” said Jacob Andres.
Another goal of the two is to share their preserves.
“I knew how to produce,” he said. “I taught my wife how to do it. I think about two summers ago we put in about 250 jars of product. One of the things we wanted to do was, to [Walt’s Four Seasons Campground] they have a farmers market, we wanted to create a space where we take our canned goods and say take what you need. If you want to invest some money in it, fine. We just want to do it as a ministry to give back to the community.
If there’s one thing Jacob Andres wants people to learn about farming, it’s where the food comes from.
“We go to the store and take a bag of salad,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know what a head of lettuce looks like. I’m not kidding, I have kids who ask ‘what is lettuce like?’ Yeah guys, it’s a bullet. We take it for granted. “
As with cooking food, buying produce in the store simplifies the process into something we have to do as people, Andres said. The journey of how food was created and how it was cooked is lost when going out to eat or shopping at the store.
“When I take purple asparagus I grow them in my garden because purple is sweeter than green – it’s a personal preference I have – I grill them, present them to my family and they tell me ‘wow that’s really good,’ there’s a connection there, ”he said. “The meal then separates from something we have to do, and that’s all we can do as a family. I think it’s lost with a lot of people.
Farming, however, takes a lot of hard work and is a difficult way of life. Still, anyone can farm – even those with apartments can, he thinks. A tomato plant in a pot counts, said Jacob Andres. Initially, he suggested buying a tomato or cucumber plant that has already started to grow.
If anyone needs help, they can turn to someone in the area or to whoever they bought the plant from. Jacob Andres said he goes to see his wife’s uncle whenever he has a question. In the larger scheme of life, learning something new from others is as old as humanity itself.
“Humanity is built on oral traditions, passing down traditions by simply sharing those stories. We used to sit around fires and tell stories, ”he said. “So you keep this tradition alive by talking to him and telling him that you have this problem. ”
Together, make Jacob Andres
Jacob Andres has always lived in the area, even when studying in higher education, and appreciated it. He enjoys teaching, music, farming and his family. Everything he has and appreciated comes from those older people who have invested time and knowledge in him. For this, he hopes to do the same for the next generation. They can’t become farmers, musicians or teachers, and that’s okay. As long as they’re the best, that’s all that matters to him.
“I have a lot of people to whom I owe my success,” he said. “I don’t know if success is the right word to use, but I didn’t get here on my own. I don’t need to yell everyone. They will know who they are. I am eternally grateful for everything they have done. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a woman who is extremely supportive.