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Kastberg mapped out 32 years as a geography teacher

When he was hired in August 1975, Dave Kastberg thought at the time he would only stay a couple years with the Ellsworth School District and move on.

Something changed.

"Ellsworth has an excellent school system," he said. "And it's been a great place to raise a family."

Therefore, Kastberg hasn't left and has stayed the last 32 years as a middle/high school geography teacher. This school year will be his last, as he announced his retirement earlier.

The Sparta native loved the school environment at an early age.

"I enjoyed being in school and high school sports," he said. "And I was trying to transition that into adulthood."

Which he found was being a teacher.

"It's a fun job and, being around students, you'll never have a slow day," he said. "The profession itself is extremely rewarding."

Kastberg then moved on to UW-La Crosse where, after attending school the first two years, he made the unusual decision to join the Army in the early 1970s.

He had orders to go to Vietnam, but ended up in Korea working in the Fire Direction Center on the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a stretch of Korea that was used as a buffer between North and South Korea after the Korean War ended. His job was to use maps to determine the location of targets for mortar/artillery if there ever was conflict on the DMZ.

Kastberg was there 16 months from 1971-1972. He explained the move was beneficial for two reasons. One was he could gain experience for his resume and, secondly, it ended up enhancing his interest in geography.

After completing his two-year stint with the Army, Kastberg went back to UW-L and got his social studies degree. He worked briefly for the State Patrol in Tomah before getting hired in Ellsworth.

Besides geography, Kastberg also taught political science, U.S. History, family relations and middle school history. He's also contributed to Ellsworth athletics, as he spent 23 years as a middle school wrestling coach, 10 as a middle school track coach and his first three years in Ellsworth coaching junior varsity and varsity girls basketball.

With health issues popping up in the past year, Kastberg decided this year was it.

"I don't think it will sink in (retirement) until September," he said. "I'm still enjoying what I'm doing. It's just time."

That includes traveling and spending time with family. His wife, Beth, is a registered nurse at Regina Medical Center in Hastings, Minn. The couple has one daughter, Erin, an attorney who lives in Rockford, Ill.

There's also biking to fill up his time. The noted bike enthusiast will compete in his 12th annual TRAM (The Ride Across Minnesota) at the end of July to benefit Multiple Sclerosis. It is one of many bike rides he's done in the past for various charities.

"It keeps you in shape and is good physical and mental therapy," he said about biking.

Overall, Kastberg advised parents to keep an open line of communication with their children.

"Talk with your children, don't let technology be a substitute," he said.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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