Marc Beitia, who is both the mayor of American Falls and an agriculture teacher at American Falls High School, is elbows deep in projects and programs this year.

A primary focus of his efforts is helping students both within the community and statewide.

Beitia, who was named 2019 Teacher of the Year, was chosen to be a member of Gov. Brad Little’s “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” Task Force earlier this year. He, along with other task force members across the state, were asked to develop a five-year plan to improve on Idaho’s K-12 public education system.

“The Our Kids, Idaho’s Future Task Force will adopt a broad-based, collaborative process to examine our public education system, with an emphasis on improving student achievement and accountability to parents and taxpayers,” Little said.

The task force builds on 2013’s task force that former Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter implemented to better Idaho’s K-12 public education system. Some of the challenges that Beitia plans to undertake include teacher retention and making all changes to education equitable across the state for every county.

“The ideas of what can be done to improve education seem to be fairly consistent,” Beitia said. “How they become available and equitable to everyone is what is going to be the challenge.”

The task force’s goal is to have a final plan to Little by late October or early November.

“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “I’m just excited to be asked to be part of the process.”

As an agriculture teacher who heads his school’s FFA chapter, Beitia has also instructed talented youth who have gone on to receive a National Premier Chapter Award for two consecutive years at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.

They were named as one of the top 10 finalists of the National FFA Model of Excellence chapters and were the first chapter in Idaho to be named a finalist along with the Rigby High School Chapter.

Beitia was also asked to participate in the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health’s Community Health Academy, which gives him the opportunity to earn a grant of $10,000 for the city of American Falls.

The academy is a six-month collaborative for mayors that addresses how to fight childhood obesity across Idaho.

“Eventually we’d like to learn or at least recognize what we can do to provide opportunities for our citizens to be healthier,” he said. “Whether that’s an increase in opportunities and ways to exercise or how to promote better food choices.”

In addition to discussing strategies on how to improve youth wellness, Beitia will also participate in the Mayor’s Walking Challenge, through which he can earn a $10,000 grant for the American Falls community if he walks 10,000 steps every day in October.

This will be Beitia’s third year doing the challenge, and past years’ grants have gone to recreational projects such as parks and playground repairs to help promote and invest in community health.

“I think it’s going to be an interesting process and I’m excited to see the opportunities we can provide for our citizens,” he said