Warren County Iowa Genealogical Society




    Spouse: Amy BOMGAARS

    Source: County Conservation News, Warren County Conservation Board, Fall 1988

    Friends of Conservation

    Lots of people teach. Most are quite competent. A few are exceptional. In Warren County, we have such a teacher. His name is Gene Bomgaars.

    "I like to teach," said Gene, "because it lets me give something to someone else. I like the thrill of knowing something and sharing it with another person." Gene teaches the vocational agriculture classes at the Indianola Senior High School. His teaching style reflects his personality: friendly, honest and hard working. Listening to him talk about his profession is like hearing a magician describe feats of wonder. "Watching a kid not understand a concept, then helping him follow the idea and actually seeing him understand it... that's a great feeling." While Gene has no "magic potion" for exceptional teaching, the ingredients are clear:

    Commitment Gene can't imagine not teaching. Farming full time might be a possibility in the future, but not for a long time. Gene and his wife Amy, a junior high music teacher in Indianola, raise sheep and hogs near their Milo home. He feels that managing a small farm enhances his knowledge of what he teaches.

    Knowledge Gene grew up on a 240 acre farm near Sioux Center. His parents still raise corn and livestock there. This farm background has given Gene a realistic perspective of agriculture. A degree from Iowa State University has helped to keep him up-to-date. According to Gene, vocational agriculture courses have changed considerably in the last ten years. The modern farmer needs to know things like gene splicing, food science and marketing. Though funding the equipment to teach such topics is still limited at the high school level, he feels the money sources need to be found in the future.

    Love of Kids If you spend all day teaching kids, you had better like them. Gene does, and even jokingly listed "kids" as one of his hobbies (after golfing and fishing!).

    A Land Ethic Soil loss is of special concern to Gene, who remembers first realizing the power of wind and water erosion when he visited the Badlands as a child. Protecting Iowa's soil and water is imperative since agriculture is our number one industry. "I teach a lot of conservation," said Gene, "I really stress and incorporate it into all of my classes."

    As general advisor for the Future Farmers of America (FFA), Gene encourages students to get directly involved in protecting Iowa's natural resources. For two years the FFA has helped seed and manage 15 acres of prairie at the Conservation Center. The student group is also taking six acres of cropland, owned by the Odd Fellows Lodge, out of production. Plans are to convert the cropland into bluegrass for additional cemetery space. The FFA is doing this without the use of chemicals and by using practices such as organic farming and proper seed selection.

    Gene believes that students must realize "they need to use the land wisely or it might not be here in the future." Learning by doing is a good way to understand this idea.

    Once an Iowa farm boy, Gene is now a person committed to teaching others good agricultural practices. He is a true friend of conservation.