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Ellerbrock captivates high school students, expands Hokie Nation

July 26, 2018

Mike Ellerbrock teaches Governor's School for Agriculture students.
Mike Ellerbrock teaches Virginia high school students about applied economics.

Every summer Mike Ellerbrock teaches a set of rising high school juniors and seniors who come from all over the state to take classes at the university level for one month as part of the Virginia Governor’s School for Agriculture.

The program exposes students to college life as well as topics that most high school students are unfamiliar with, including “Economics is Everywhere,” the class Ellerbrock teaches.

“Other Governor’s School students brag about the field trips they take, but we brag that we have Mike,” said Abigail Piper, one of the 20 students who took Ellerbrock’s “Economics is Everywhere” class this year.

Ellerbrock teaches 100 students for the first week of the program before the students split up into their respective tracks, which they call “majors,” of about 20 students each.

Ellerbrock’s “Economics is Everywhere” class serves as an introduction to global economic thought as he brings in real-world examples that include how people place values on things from food to a person’s life, how individuals make decisions, and how the market responds to world events.

By the end of the course, many of Ellerbrock’s students either choose to pursue economics as a course of study, or decide that Virginia Tech is where they want to attend college. They cite Ellerbrock’s ability to engage the class and make economics exciting as a top reason.

“I remember sitting through one of Dr. Ellerbrock’s lectures during Governor’s School and realizing that it spurred something inside me,” said Chris Kuhler, an incoming freshman who was part of the agricultural and applied economics track during the 2016 Virginia Governor’s School for Agriculture. “He explained how economics is a part of everyday life and that you really can’t get by without knowing it.”

While Chris grew up knowing he wanted to be a Hokie, his Governor’s School experience provided the direction he needed to pursue a fulfilling academic and career journey – a journey that has just begun.

Ellerbrock has taught Governor’s School high school students for nearly a decade, and every year about two students who come through the program select the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics as their academic home.

“It’s very gratifying to have students in my freshman class that I taught in Governor’s school two years earlier,” said Ellerbrock. “The impact this program has on students is significant and often sets them up for future success in college and beyond.”

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