Art is Her Thing

Posted: June 24, 2022

Twenty years ago Katie Hunt won DeKalb County Farm Bureau’s design contest. Then, she was a fifth grader at Waterman Elementary. Now, she is an art teacher at DeKalb High School.

In 2002, Katie Hunt won Farm Bureau’s T-Shirt Design Contest with her Ag Careers design. Katie still has her winning t-shirt which she proudly shows standing in her art room at DeKalb High School where she teaches art.

“I remember talking about ag careers in the classroom and then we drew what we thought represented a variety of different careers,” said Katie. Her teacher, Ms. Joann Pardridge, guided those classroom discussions in conjunction with Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program. Living in the country and being with friends whose parents farmed also helped Katie understand more about the ag sector.

In 2002, when Katie’s design was chosen as one of the winners among hundreds of entries from local school children, she couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride. “The cool part was we got t-shirts with my design on it – my classmates and family too,” explained Katie. “And my best friend still has the shirt!”

At a young age Katie loved art; it was her favorite class from grade school to high school days. Her art teachers, whom she readily recalls (Mrs. Tuestad, Mrs. Frankel, Mrs.Tyler), helped develop her passion and interest in art. She also says her arty talents run in her family – her mother is a retired art teacher, and her aunt is quite artistic.

All of Katie’s fifth grade classmates, and her teacher Ms. Pardridge, received a t-shirt with Katie’s design on it when she won the contest 20 years ago.

With a desire to teach art, Katie earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from Northern Illinois University and is living her dream of inspiring young artists. This is her ninth year as an art teacher at DeKalb High School. She teaches Introduction to Art and Intermediate Art classes, which focus on drawing and painting instruction on a variety of mediums.

“I enjoy teaching high school students with a wide range of skills,” said Katie. “The classroom allows students to be creative and express themselves through various forms of art. As an art teacher I try to give them the confidence they need to succeed.”

In the classroom she is known as Mrs. Bend. Katie married her high school sweetheart, Reece Bend, who farms in rural Shabbona. They have two children, Rowan, 3, and Raelyn, four months.

Things have come full circle for Katie, now 31, from winning the ag design contest to being an art teacher.