Alan Yan has been exploring a variety of subjects at American Falls High School in order to choose a career. He helps out his FFA chapter, manages the school’s greenhouse and works at his parent’s restaurant.
“I haven’t really decided on a career yet. This summer and fall I’ll get a good solid plan but right now I’m experimenting with a little bit of everything to see what I like the most,” he said. “I don’t want to go into something I don’t like and have to start over again.”
He took his first agriculture class during his freshman year. Since then, he’s taken one agriculture class every trimester. Yan is 17 and is just finishing up his junior year.
“I decided to take an ag class my first year in high school because I heard other students say how they enjoyed their ag classes and how the teachers work hard to engage all the students regardless of their career path,” Yan said. “The teachers here are very supportive and open to new ideas. They’ll even find a way to help students with subjects that aren’t related to agriculture.”
Yan handles much of the responsibility of the day-to-day operations in the school’s greenhouse, since schools are closed due to Covid-19.
“He takes care of the greenhouse. He’s here every day seven days a week,” said Courtney Knickrehm, one of three AFHS agriculture teachers.
Yan is dedicated to overseeing the operation of the greenhouse in addition to taking classes via the internet.
“I try to go to the greenhouse every day, occasionally I can’t make it but I always try to find time to, and then do my classroom work at home online,” he said.
In the school’s agriculture department Knickrehm teaches animal science, veterinary, food science and leadership; Marc Beitia teaches plant science, honors agriculture biology, agriculture biology and leadership classes; and Daniel Heikkila teaches agriculture mechanics, fabrication and small engines.
The school’s FFA chapter has been named as one of 10 National FFA Model of Excellence finalists and received a National Premier Chapter Award for two years in 2017 and 2018.
Yan likes the hands-on learning approach taught in the ag department.
“I wanted to take a plant science class where we learn the material in the classroom and get to use what we’ve learned in the greenhouse and in our own gardens. The labs are always really fun,” he said.
Yan has applied what he’s learned in his home garden. He’s learned how to propagate plants and he learned from the school’s two hydroponic systems where tomatoes and peppers are raised. The produce is donated to local organizations who help people in need in the American Falls community, he said.
“I manage my own garden and have tried to improve my own ways of planting and managing a garden to make sure it grows well,” he said. “The skills I’ve learned in class prevent needless experimenting where you waste a lot of time and money.”
Yan belongs to the school’s FFA chapter and helps out with various FFA-sponsored competitions and events the chapter organizes for elementary and intermediate-aged students.
After school, Yan helps his parents Ping and Jessica Yan at their family owned restaurant in American Falls, China City.
“I help out where ever they need help from waiting tables to answering the phone. I do a little bit of everything and usually come down after school,” Yan said. “China City has been in business for over 25 years now. It’s really fun when you get to work with your family.”