Students rally around Mitchell ag teacher battling cancer

Farm Forum

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) – Students at an eastern South Dakota high school are rallying around an agriculture teacher during his bout with cancer.

The Tri-State Neighbor ( ) reports Mitchell High School teacher Jeff Hoffman joined his students at the state Future Farmers of America convention weeks after having his leg amputated to stop the cancer from spreading.

A tumor was found in his leg last year, and he had gone through several rounds of chemotherapy before his doctors recommended the amputation.

“It was crushing,” Hoffman’s wife, Deanna, said.

But the Hoffmans have found support thorough social media. A page on Facebook keeps friends and family up to date on his progress. Hoffman says it’s a source of well-wishes and prayers that keep his “spirits up.”

Hoffman’s students designed T-shirts to raise money for Hoffman and his family. Junior Johnna Jorgensen estimates about 400 shirts have been sold, and Hoffman says he’s grateful for the support from the tight-knit ag community.

“He has supported us through everything we have done. We wanted to get behind him,” said Johnna Jorgensen, a junior at Mitchell High School and president of the FFA chapter.

Jorgensen said she was surprised at how widespread the project had become. She said the money will be used for medical bills and for modifications around the house that make it easier for Hoffman to get around.

Hoffman returned to teaching full time on May 6.

When he’s not teaching, the 49-year-old farms with his parents in Bridgewater, focusing on growing corn and soybeans.

“He’s the hardest-working farmer and ag teacher that I’ve ever seen,” said Deanna Hoffman. “It’s hard to slow him down.”

Hoffman already is finding ways to help around the farm. Earlier this month, he readied the turbo tiller for corn planting. And earlier in the spring he helped build a new fence for calving by driving the supply truck.

“I want to be helpful,” he said.

Now the Hoffmans are waiting on doctors to decide whether he will go through another round of chemotherapy. That will determine when he can get a prosthetic leg.