Meet Our New Board of Directors and Regional Secretaries
Ken Couture, agricultural educator at Killingly High School in Dayville, CT has been elected as the 2011-2012 president.
"I am a product of agricultural education. I did not grow up on a farm but farms surrounded my home. My first job was picking blueberries for ten cents a pint. For my SAE, I raised a garden, a steer and a couple of heifers. I knew I wanted to become an agricultural education teacher when I graduated from high school and began college at the University of Georgia. I was fortunate to meet many wonderful people while in Athens and after finishing my undergraduate degree in Agricultural Education I traveled up the highway to Clemson University for my Master of Agricultural Education degree.
"It was at Clemson that I met my wife of 30 years, Debbie. We have a son, Brooks, who is a senior in high school. I teach Aquaculture and Natural Resources in a four-teacher department in Killingly, Connecticut. We are fortunate to have moved into a brand new high school and agricultural education center in 2010. Our program was the NAAE Region VI Outstanding Middle/Secondary Program Award in 2005. One of my co-teachers, Bonnie Kegler, was the 2008 Region VI Outstanding Teacher and another teaching partner, Bethany Royer, was the 2010 Region VI Outstanding Young Member Award winner. I am very fortunate to work with a great team.
"My favorite part of being an ag teacher is the relationships that I develop with my students and their families over 4 years in the program. It is very rewarding to see them join our FFA Alumni chapter because they want to give back to the program that invested so much in them. In my spare time I enjoy working on projects, kayaking and watching sporting events. "
Couture has been teaching for twenty-three years. He is a leader in agriculture education, and has been recognized at the state and national levels. In 2011, University of Connecticut College of Agriculture and Natural Resources made Couture an Honorary Alumni. His agriculture program was recognized as the NAAE Region VI Outstanding Middle/Secondary Program in 2005. He has also been a National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador.
Couture first joined NAAE in 1981. He says of the association, “Nowhere else can you network with other agricultural educators who are so willing to help one another. Whether it is Communities of Practice, mentoring programs, professional development conducted by colleagues, the Ag Educator Relief Fund or advocacy efforts, we pride ourselves on taking care of each other. We are constantly striving to improve instruction in agri-science, leadership through FFA and experiential learning through SAE so that we can be better agricultural educators with stronger programs and more successful students.”
He plans to use his term working on the agricultural education advocacy agenda, building partnerships to support teacher professional development in inquiry-based science principles, and collecting data to support our National Teach Ag campaign.
Farrah Johnson, agricultural educator at Deltona High School, FL, has been elected as the 2011-2012 president-elect.
"My agricultural education career began in 1989 as a 7th grade student. Through Middle and High Schools, my love for agriculture grew as my passion and admiration for education confirmed that I wanted to be an agricultural educator.
"I earned my Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education from the University of Florida in 1999. I then attended Mississippi State University and earned my Master’s Degree in Agricultural Education in 2001.
"In 2001 I began my teaching career at Deltona High School in Deltona, FL. Growing up, my grandfather raised cattle and our community was very agricultural with citrus and strawberry production. It was a definite change to more to a suburban area. Deltona is a suburban community 45 minutes from Orlando and 30 minutes from Daytona Beach. Although there is agriculture in our area, most of my students live on 1/3-1/4 acre areas or in apartment complexes. Livestock projects are kept on our school 10 acre land lab.
"My first level agriculture class, Agriscience Foundations counts as a science credit. After this course, students can choose Agritechnology or Ag Sales and Service. Agritechnology Program completers can earn honors credit and sit for an end of course exam. Ag Sales Program completers currently earn a practical arts credit. I believe that it is our responsibility to provide the best educational experience for our students as possible. I also believe that we provide the “relevance” to many math, science and reading concepts that our students must master. I think we can align a lot of our programs academically and assist our students.
"My sister Erin and I teach agriculture at “rival high schools” in the same town. Our schools are located 7 miles apart and both schools have about 1600 students grade 9-12. All 3 of the Johnson siblings earned their American FFA Degrees, a fact that we are very proud of!
"I love working with students. The opportunities we can provide through agricultural education is endless. I love that we can focus on teamwork, communication and leadership as well as careers and specific agricultural information.
"I began my involvement with NAAE when Florida hosted the NAAE state social and tours for the National Convention. Since then, I served on various committees for FAAE and NAAE. I worked with the NAAE Member Services committee for the last 3 years. I have attended the ACTE National Policy Seminar and the National Ag Ed Summit."
Johnson has been teaching for eleven years. She is a leader in agricultural education, both at the state and national levels. She has received numerous recognitions, including DHS Teacher of the Year in 2005-06, FACTE Rookie Teacher of the Year in 2006, 2007 National Board Certified Teacher and Honorary State FFA Degrees in 2006 and 2007. She served as FAAE President from 2005-06. Most recently, she completed a three-year term as NAAE Region V vice president.
She joined NAAE during her first teaching, after receiving the membership as an award for Outstanding Senior in Ag Education at the University of Florida. She has remained active because “NAAE provides continued learning, camaraderie and an opportunity for members to work towards a common goal. I think the opportunity to discuss what is going on in our classes and programs while learning from other teachers in other states makes NAAE unique. We are able to bring the diversity of agriculture together to be better professionals. I think that our organization promotes continued learning for our members.”
“It is humbling to be elected from one’s peers to lead our professional organization,” Johnson says, “I promise to listen to our members needs and do the best that I can to ensure that all members have the best resources available for their programs. As we move forward, I hope to maintain the continued success of NAAE and promote excellence in agricultural education. I am excited about this tremendous opportunity and promise to bring my passion, creativity, and vision for this organization.”
Johnson plans to use her year as president-elect to increase communication between members, improve the recruitment and retention of agricultural educators within the profession through a teacher-mentoring program, and to increase the participation in the ACTE National Policy Seminar.
Region III Vice-president
Terry Rieckman, agriculture teacher at McCook Central High School, SD, has been elected as a regional vice president.
" I live in Salem SD with my wife Patsy where we raised 4 daughters and a son. We now enjoy the time we get to spend with our 10 grandchildren, especially during the summer months and camping.
"After graduation from high school I spent a year at Northern State University and then 4 years in the US Army before heading back to college at South Dakota State University. I graduated with a degree in Agricultural Business and Agricultural Education.
"After student teaching I took my first and current job in Salem and have been here for 28 years. When I first began teaching I was a member of the SD National Guard with the 153rd Engineers and later with the US Army Reserves as a track mechanic instructor.
" I credit much of what I have accomplished to the role models I have had in Ag. Education from Clark Hanson,(SDSU Professor) Myron Sonne (Retired MTI Instructor and past NVATA President), and more recently Paul Larson of WI. I have made many friendships within the profession that have also shaped the way I approach issues, and in the programs I promote within the local chapter. Some of my closest friendships have come through working with our district teachers and my attendance at Region III conferences, the SD teachers I have traveled with and those I meet from other states.
" I think the thing that makes me love my job is the interaction you have as an Agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor which is unique to any other teaching position. I love working with students on their SAE programs and we are very active in the proficiency and degree award areas of the FFA. I love working with and having students compete. Growing up in a family with 8 siblings you just learn to be competitive and aggressive to accomplish your goals."
Rieckman has been teaching for twenty-eight years and has been an active member of NAAE since 1984. He says, “I remember my college advisor telling us we needed to join NAAE when student teaching for the insurance. Then when I took my first job, my administration expected teachers to join their professional associations. As the years went on, I became more involved by being a district representative/advisor, performing committee assignments, and attending other events.”
Rieckman has received numerous distinctions, including Region III Outstanding Middle/Secondary School in 2002, Region III Outstanding Teacher Award in 2007, State CTE Directors Award in 2001, SDACTE Outstanding Program in 2006, SDACTE Outstanding Teacher Award in 2008, SDACTE Community Service Award in 2010, an Honorary State FFA Degree, and an Honorary American FFA Degree. In addition, he served as SDAAE President in 2006 and is currently serving as SDACTE President.
Rieckman intends to use his time as regional vice president to help improve teacher retention. “Over the years, I have seen too many good, young teachers leave to work elsewhere,” he says, “and we need to keep them teaching so that our profession becomes stronger and we have an adequate supply of teachers to replace those retiring.”
He also plans to promote the relevancy of agricultural programs to local and state boards. He says, “It is so important that we prove the need for our programs through data, because we provide rigorous, relevant, real-world educational experiences for our students. In the current time of budget shortfalls, many times elective programs may be hit the hardest. Providing data based information about our programs to those making financial decisions will be essential in the coming years.”
Region IV Secretary
Scott Stone, agriculture teacher at Centralia R-6 High School, MO, has been elected as a regional secretary.
Just a farm boy with a love for agriculture and working with students is how Scott Stone of Centralia, Missouri describes himself. Scott has been involved with FFA since 1989 when he was a freshmen at Williamsburg High School, in Williamsburg PA. Stone started teaching high school agriculture in January 1998 at Centralia High School. He is part of a two teacher department that reaches over 154 students.
Stone has been teaching for fourteen years and has been an active member of NAAE since 1998. He says, “I felt that as part of my profession I needed to be a member of my professional organization. We must stand together as a profession or we will fall. NAAE offers the unity of voice and efforts. We all must be on the same page telling the same story if we are to accomplish our mission of educating students about the industry of agriculture.”
Stone has received numerous distinctions, including the Teacher Mentor Award, MO Outstanding Agriculture Educator, and MO Outstanding Young Member. He was a 2011 National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador.
Stone intends to use his time as regional secretary to act as a liaison between the members and the board of directors. He plans on meeting as many agricultural educators as possible to share ideas and network in order to make the agriculture education profession stronger.
Region V Vice president
Daryl Behel, agriculture teacher at Cherokee High School, AL, has been elected as a regional vice president.
"I live in Corinth, MS and have been for 10 years. I grew up on my dad’s dairy farm in Greenhill, AL. My parents are R.L. and Virginia Behel of Greenhill, AL. For most of my life I was early to rise and early to bed. My dad started the dairy when I was in the forth grade and I continued to help him throughout all my years of college. We milked cows and also row cropped. I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today if it weren’t for the hardworking ability I obtained from my dad and mom on the farm.
"I have a wife Tanya Behel and a seven year old son Tyson. After graduating from Mississippi State University in December of 2000 my teaching career started in MS in the fall of 2001 where I taught 10 years and just this school year I started teaching at Cherokee High School in Cherokee, AL. My previous schools where I taught were the Alcorn Career & Technology Center (2001-2005), Jumpertown High School (2005-2011), now at Cherokee High School in AL. I teach throughout the week and on the weekends in the fall you will find me in Starkville, MS watching the Bulldogs play! Go DAWGS!! Other than that I visit my parents and my wife’s parents in Greenhill, AL. My son is very active with sports as well so I keep pretty busy with him on that as well. I am a member of the Foote Street Church of Christ in Corinth, MS.
"I have always enjoyed teaching and have grown to do so over all the years. Throughout my teaching years I have been very successful with my FFA programs also. I have trained two teams to compete on the National level and have had two students become State Star Farmers as well. Involvement makes me enjoy teaching the way that I do. My teaching philosophy is to make a difference in a child’s life, that way they will earn to respect you and what you do for them. I am fortunate as well to have administrators whom are very supportive up me and my program as well. That makes me enjoy what I do that much more also. 'I am an Agriculture educator by choice and not by chance.'"
Behel has taught for ten years in Mississippi and one in Alabama. He has been an active member of NAAE since 2001. He says, “As a first year teacher, I was told about NAAE and that I should join because of benefits it offers to its members. After my first few years teaching, I applied for the Dodge Turn the Key award in 2005 which gave me the opportunity to attend the convention in Kansas City, MO that year. Since then, I have attended every NAAE Convention, making that seven in a row. I have been fortunate to teach with very active NAAE members in the state of MS that got me more involved. There have been two NAAE Presidents from MS during my teaching years; Lee James of Ackerman, and Ray Nash of Booneville. I attended many NAAE events with these two gentlemen and that has led me to my position today.”
He adds, “NAAE offers several opportunities for professional development for its members to start with. Members also have the chance to receive educator insurance coverage that is beneficial for today teachers in more ways than one. Award recognition is available throughout different stages of one’s teaching career also. Since joining NAAE I have a lot of great opportunities to travel, meet several folks across the U.S., and become a more qualified teacher for my profession.”
Behel participated in the Ram Trucks Teachers Turn the Key program in 2005, and received the MS Outstanding Young member Award in 2006. From 2008-2009, he was the Mississippi Association Vocational Agriculture Teachers (MAVAT) President. He served as the NAAE Region V Secretary in 2008-2011.
Behel intends to use his time as regional vice president to advocate for the profession of Agriculture Education in Alabama and the region. He will also stress the importance of teacher retention in agriculture education.
Region V Secretary
Joshua Davenport, agriculture teacher at Booneville High School, MS, has been elected as a regional secretary.
"I am currently employed as agriculture teacher at Booneville High School in the Booneville School District in Booneville, MS. I just began my eighth year of teaching Agricultural Environment Science and Technology.
"I have been married for five years to wife Kristan and I have two boys Tristan age 3 and Braydan 5 months. I currently serve as state president of the Mississippi Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers. In 2009, I received my National Board Certification in Career and Technical Education. I have two degrees, a Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science from Mississippi State University in Agricultural Extension and Education. I enjoy being students whether it’s in the classroom, or FFA activities because I feel like I can inspire them to reach the full potential in all phases of life. When I am not involved with teaching or working with my FFA members I am spending time with my family and attending Mississippi State sporting events."
Davenport has been an active member of NAAE since 2005. “I joined NAAE because I felt it is very important to be part of your professional organization. They will help you get your voice heard and support you as an education professional. Also, NAAE offers the opportunity to meet agriculture educators from all over the country and provides a variety of professional development workshops each year.”
Davenport has been a Teacher Turn the Key participant, a NAAE Region V Outstanding Young Member, National Board Certified Teacher, and the President of Mississippi Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers. Davenport intends to use his time as regional secretary to help improve communication within his region, keeping in contact with the state representatives from the region.