Retaining quality experienced teachers is important to the future of agricultural education. In 2013, NAAE developed XLR8 — the eXcellence in Leadership for Retention professional development program — to meet the needs of mid-career agriculture teachers.

XLR8 is a year-long professional development program that targets agriculture teachers in their 7th-15th year of teaching.

The overall goals of this program include:

  • develop experienced teacher leaders who will mentor other teachers in the profession;
  • provide mid-career level specific professional development to participants;
  • as well as increase overall longevity and satisfaction of participants with their chosen career of teaching agriculture.  

The XLR8 program includes participation in an intensive professional development experience (multiple sessions) during the NAAE convention, recurring virtual learning experiences, and online collaboration using the NAAE professional learning community, Communities of Practice, as well as other social media tools.

Are you Eligible?

All active NAAE members who are currently in their 7th to 15th year of teaching are eligible to apply. Each applicant must have been a NAAE member the three previous years while teaching agriculture. Participants must also be active members and working in school-based agricultural education during NAAE membership the year when they apply. Current members of the NAAE board of directors and previous participants are not eligible to apply.

If selected, program participants must agree to attend the entire NAAE convention as well as additional professional development activities throughout the year.

2017 XLR8 Participants

John Asbill CATS Chapin SC
Kris Beaver Waupun Area Junior/Senior High School Waupun WI
Amanda Briggs Madison Consolidated High School Madison IN
Jeremy Carkuff Tioga High School Tioga ND
Travis Edwards Kuna High School Kuna ID
Jaysa Fillmore Cassia High School Burley ID
Matt Harris Crest High School Shelby NC
Amy Kline Warren Hills Regional High School Washington NJ
Casey Lunceford Big Timber FFA Big Timber MT
Dawn Mausser Maquoketa Valley Delhi IA
Crystal McGrath Winneconne High School Winneconne WI
Rheanna Melcher Holly High School Holly CO
Donna Page Rochelle Township High School Rochelle IL
Amanda Reid Concordia Concordia MO
Lori Sanderson Onalaska High School Onalaska WA
Sabrina Stalder Athens High School The Plains OH
Deborah Stevens Sugar River Valley Regional Technical Center Newport NH
Joni White Urbana High School Urbana IL
Kyle Woolston Paoli Jr./Sr. High School Paoli IN
Clint Young Pontotoc Ridge Career and Technical Center Pontotoc MS


2016 XLR8 Participants

Mrs. Rachel Anderson Greenville High School Greenville NY
Mrs. Judith Aschwanden St. Helena High School St. Helena CA
Mr. John Bergin Mission Valley Eskridge KS
Mr. J.D. Cant Imbler High School Imbler OR
Mrs. Beth Dickenson Heppner Jr/Sr High School Heppner OR
Mr. Brian Fuller Peoria High School Peoria AZ
Mr. Brandon Braaten Corvallis High School Corvallis MT
Mr. John Hammond Thomas Nelson High School Bardstown KY
Mr. Sam Herringshaw Rogue River High School Rogue River OR
Mrs. Lori Hoppe Gardiner Public School Gardiner MT
Ms. Jeanna James Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District Chippewa Falls WI
Mr. Jeremiah Johnson Covington High School Covington TN
Mrs. Kelly Keller Arlington High School Arlington SD
Mrs. Sarah Knight Virginia High School Bristol VA
Mr. Jim Melby Winneconne Community School District Winneconne WI
Mr. Chase Montes Tularosa High School Tularosa NM
Mr. Daniel Spellerberg SRCTC - Oakes Oakes ND
Mrs. Jill Wagner Newton County Career/ Tech Center Decatur MS
Mrs. Desirae Weber Platte Vally High School Kersey CO
Mrs. Shay Williams-Hopper Tulare Joint United HS Tulare CA

2015 XLR8 Participants

Click on the name of the XLR8 participant to view his/her press release.

Cathy Berrier North Carolina
Tracy Brown Washington
Toni Buchanan Mississippi
Jason Bullock North Carolina
Zach Crews Missouri
Tamara Herschbach Nevada
Amanda Heuttl North Dakota
Farrah Johnson Florida
Weston Kane Idaho
Bethany Knowlton Connecticut
Jeff Mayes Iowa
Codi Montes-Dennis New Mexico
Jessy Reuterdahl Missouri
Jennifer Sousa California
Chad Warnick Utah
Kurt Van DeWalle Nebraska
Reta Yanik Arizona


2014 XLR8 Participants

Click on the name of the XLR8 participant to view his/her press release.

Becky  Bates Cascade High School Turner, OR
Joshua Bondy Paris R-4 High School Paris, MO
Lisa Clement Willowcreek Middle School Lehi, UT
Julia Collins Castle Rock High School Castle Rock, WA
Joshua Davenport South Panola High School Batesville, MS
Samantha Dodge East River High School  Orlando, FL
Megan Haslam Mountain Crest High School Hyrum, UT
Tom Jacobsen North Fremont High School Ashton, ID
Christie Joehl Carrollton High School Carrollton, IL
Aaron Kilsdonk De Pere High School De Pere, WI
Kirk Kramp Campbellsport High School Campbellsport, WI
Nicole Lebsack Jerome High School Jerome, ID
Patrick Little Clarkrange High School Clarkrange, TN
Curt Robbins Fairfield Community High School   Fairfield, IL
Leah Joy Smith Hermiston High School Hermiston, OR
Nathaniel Smith Spiro High School Spiro, OK
Nichole Spearman-Eskelsen   Yamhill - Carlton High School Yamhill, OR
Karen VanDeWalle Iowa Mennonite High School Kalona, IA
Robert Yates Huntley Project High School Worden, MT


Click here to see XLR8 Photos.

XLR8 is sponsored by CSX as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.



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