Program Spotlight: Lind Junior/Senior High School
Lind Junior/Senior High School
Outstanding Middle/Secondary Program
Perhaps you’ve heard of Lind, Washington. The population hit only 564 in the 2010 census, but the town has made appearances on the Discovery Channel, ESPN, CMT, and in one of Chuck Palahniuk’s books. You may have heard of Lind for one of two things: an annual combine demolition derby and an excellent agriculture program. Last year, Lind Junior/Senior High School won the NAAE Outstanding Middle/Secondary Ag Ed Program Award.
Andy Williams has been the agriculture teacher at the school’s program since 2005. With an MBA in hand, he came into teaching after several years working in industry. His experience makes agricultural business and economics his favorite subject to cover in the classroom. He also enjoys helping his students with their SAEs, which range from animal care to maintaining acres of wheat grounds.
Wheat SAEs place students in the heart of the local economy—Lind employs over 80 percent of its residents in agriculture-related jobs, mostly producing the dryland wheat that covers the area’s basalt channels. The agriculture program focuses on production agriculture, business management, and career preparedness to reflect the needs of the community. Williams made the program’s mission to teach students how to best prepare for life after taking his classes. He helps all of his students identify career interests, make industry connections, and develop the necessary job skills through project and work-based learning.
“I am a huge believer that success breeds success,” said Williams. “I feel that not only will a successful chapter find continued success down the road, but more importantly a student who is successful in their endeavors will have the drive and motivation instilled in them to be successful later on in life.”
Williams’ impact on his students carries through much of the school—half of the student body is active in the FFA. He teaches them that “if you’re going to do something, do your best.” The students, he says, buy into that philosophy and work hard. Recently, when Williams wanted to sharpen up his ag mechanics knowledge and add more electrical, pneumatics, and hydraulics to his teaching repertoire, he entered his students in the FIRST Robotics Competition. They were sent a kit, a list of tasks for the robot to perform, and six weeks to complete the project before the competition. “We learned a lot working on that project,” said Williams.
“I have been impressed with Andy’s commitment to the students and ensuring that they gain useful skills that will be applicable to their careers,” said Randy Kulm, a member of the Lind Agricultural Education Program Advisory Board. “I have watched what I would consider ‘problem students’ go through his classes and come out with not only employable skills, but also poise, responsibility, and motivation to succeed.”
When Williams runs into these students later—perhaps at his chapter’s food booth at the combine demolition derby, which now draws 6,000 people—they thank him for the impact his program has had on their lives. It’s so rewarding to see students as adults, he says, when they come back to say thanks.
Each of the six regional Outstanding Middle/Secondary Program Award winners received a plaque and expense paid trip to attend the NAAE convention in St Louis. The National FFA Alumni Association sponsors the Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education Program Award.
For more information about this an all other NAAE awards, visit www.naae.org/awards/applications/.