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Christopher Stripling

Stripling with wife, Mindi, and children, Brody, five, and Juliet, two.

Christopher Stripling is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications. He came to UT after receiving his PhD from the University of Florida in 2012. Previously, Stripling worked as a high school agriculture teacher in Ola, Georgia.

Stripling prepares students to be high school agriculture teachers and works with student teachers across Tennessee. He also has several grants through the US Department of Agriculture that focus on helping agriculture faculty become better teachers.

Why agriculture?

Stripling grew up in the rural agricultural community of Irwinville, Georgia. During high school, he was involved in the National FFA Organization and showed livestock. As the son of a livestock market owner and a retired county school superintendent, he said blending agriculture and education seemed natural.

Outside interests

Stripling has been an avid hunter since he was a kid. Visit his office and you’ll see two of his hunting prizes—mounted deer—along with an alligator skull that he received as a gift. In 2014, he took his first elk hunting trip to Colorado and has since gone back. His hunting bucket list still includes a bull elk and the World Slam of Turkeys, which consists of the four subspecies of US turkeys and two in Mexico.

Stripling has yet to teach his children—son, Brody, five, and daughter, Juliet, two—to hunt, but he has shared his love for UT football with them. Stripling said they also root for the Atlanta Falcons—except for Brody. “His favorite is the Cowboys, probably because he loves cows.”

Ideal dinner date

His great-great-great-great-grandfather Moses Stripling.

In 2001, the Stripling family created a book of their history dating back before the Civil War. Details of the genealogy include each family member’s name, the number of children they had, and their occupation. The book traces Stripling ancestors back to Moses Stripling, who was born in 1810.

“I look at the genealogy every time I go to my grandmother’s house,” he said. “I think it would be cool to go back and talk to Moses Stripling, just because things were so different then.”

Advice to his college-age self

Stripling as a college student.

“Life has many choices and unseen opportunities.”

After coming out of high school, Stripling was burned out on FFA activities, which focus on academic and personal growth through agricultural education. He decided to pursue agricultural engineering. But during his junior year in college, he switched to agricultural education.

“Students come in here every day— ‘Should I take this class? Should I not take this class?’ You’re always going to be making choices. Sometimes in the moment, those choices seem so important, but in the big scheme of things, one choice will not make or break you. But they can have impact. I never thought I would be a university professor. I enjoyed teaching high school, and I thought I would do that forever.”

It was because of Stripling’s master’s thesis work that he connected with a professor at the University of Florida who encouraged him to pursue his PhD.