Outstanding Young Member Awards

Young members of any organization are the seeds from which the organization grows. Without recruitment and new members, an organization would soon be phased out. One way that the NAAE recognizes new young members is to award them on their successes in the classroom.

Each regional winner of this award received a plaque and a cash award to attend the annual conference in Las Vegas. John Deere sponsored this award.

Region I
Katie Lynn Thalman
North Summit High School
Coalville, Utah

Region IV
Darryl J. Matherly
Meade County High School
Brandenburg, Kentucky
Region II
Steven D. Mitchell
Melbourne High School
Pineville, Arkansas
Region V
Michael Honeycutt
Triton High School
Erwin, North Carolina
Region III
Tim Heeg
Marshfield Senior High School
Marshfield, Wisconsin
Region VI
Robin C. McLean
Penns Grove High School
Pitman, New Jersey

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Region I
The Region I winner was Katie Thalman from North Summit High School in Coalville, Utah.

Success is what Katie Thalman has achieved during her years at North Summit High School. She was offered the job by the school's administration with one condition: the program must grow and be successful on the local and state level or the program and her job would be gone. That is a lot of pressure for a recent college graduate. Little did the administration know that Thalman had some goals of her own: "to be an effective and inspiring agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor and to be an ambassador to the professional organizations that support agricultural education and the National FFA Organization."

Katie teaches her classes with hands-on activities, lectures, student presentations, readings and discussions with an understanding that all students deserve a fair and equal chance to be educated. All of her students participate in supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs) and have the option of attending the summer agriculture program, which awards credits towards their graduation, allows them to work on their SAEs, and allows them to tour different businesses in the state.

Katie Thalman is also active in the NAAE, serving as the vice-chair for the public relations committee. She is an officer for the Utah Vocational Agriculture Teacher's Association. Her success is due to her firm beliefs in what an agricultural education program should be and her persistence in her professional organizations.

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Region II
The Region II winner was Steven Mitchell from Melbourne High School in Melbourne, Arkansas.

Steven Mitchell has a vision of the total agricultural education program that serves the needs of the students and community. During his beginning years at Melbourne High School, he has accomplished that vision. Steven's agricultural education program consists of many different areas including agricultural mechanics, sciences, and business. When presenting these areas, Steven encourages his students to learn by doing. He creates simulations and experiences that test the students' abilities and strengthens their skills. This helps the students learn practical skills necessary for life.

Steven also believes that experience is often the better teacher. Using his past background of agricultural education and experiences as a state and national FFA officer, he challenges the students to perform at high levels of achievement. Once students achieve their goals they are awarded points, which allow them to go on trips with the FFA chapter. This chapter has traveled to San Antonio, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, and Orlando. His FFA membership has increased by 30 percent and his membership participation has increased by 80 percent.

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Region III
The Region III winner was Tim Heeg from Marshfield Senior High School in Marshfield, Wisconsin.

Tim Heeg creates a positive, fun, and educational atmosphere for his students. He believes that an education should be challenging, meaningful, and enjoyable. This is one principle he follows in everything he does in agricultural education. In his classes, he creates hands-on activities, which help reinforce the topics covered in class. In one of Tim's Dairy Science courses, he creates a mock cattle auction complete with a professional auctioneer to build on student understanding of pedigrees. In addition, Tim makes it a point to visit every student with a supervised agricultural experience project. To keep this sense of enjoyment and enthusiasm in the FFA section, he sponsors activities after the chapter's business meetings. Such activities consist of casino night, pedal powered tractor pull, Packer Party, and fishing tournaments.

The FFA component of Marshfield's Agricultural Education Program is definitely one of its strong points. Since this arrival at the school six years ago, he has coached eight individuals and nine teams that have won at the state level. Of these, two have won gold, four have won silver, and three have won bronze medals at the National FFA Convention.

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Region IV
The Region IV winner was Darryl Matherly from Meade County High School in Brandenburg, Kentucky.

Part of being a successful agricultural teacher is having the ability, patience, and desire to listen to the students' needs and wants. Darryl Matherly has this skill. After arriving at Meade County High School in 1997, Darryl listened to the students' needs and wants to determine the courses that would be offered and the facilities that would be needed. Due to his insightfulness, Darryl increased this school's agricultural education program from a one-teacher program to a three-teacher program and enrollment is now 378, which 25 percent of the student body.

Besides listening to the students, Darryl follows three basic philosophies very closely. They are: all students can learn at their own high level and it is the teacher's job to find that high level; learning has to be relevant and applicable to a student's future career or interest; and time is one of the most precious resources and should never be wasted. Abiding by these philosophies has allowed him to have hands-on, auditory, and visual learning in his classroom. Darryl has found that if activities are interesting and structured, the students can go through an entire semester and not realize they never had a free day!

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Region V
The Region V winner was Michael Honeycutt from Triton High School in Erwin, North Carolina.

One essential teaching principle that tends to get left behind is that an educator must strive to teach the whole child, not just the mind. Give the student something to take back with him/her after they leave the classroom. Michael's students do that. Some of his students have taken the information taught to them and have started their own businesses, right out of high school! Michael has kept his students, the classroom, and himself energetic and excited. This keeps a positive outlook on the topic at hand and the students soak up the information!

In order to stay up with the ever-changing agricultural industry, Michael has completed his master's in Agricultural Education and is a member of many professional organizations, including the NAAE and the ACTE. He also attends workshops given on subjects he teaches so that he can get a better feel for the information.

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Region VI
The Region VI winner was Robin McLean from Penns Grove High School in Carneys Point, New Jersey.

The Penns Grove High School agricultural education students say one thing about their teacher: she is supportive of every activity and project they conduct. Robin McLean loves agricultural education and it shows! Her excitement and enthusiasm for the program has increased participation, now enrolling 50 percent of the student body in agricultural education classes. The program has 100 percent FFA membership.

Robin believes in learning by doing. The classes at Penns Grove are on block scheduling, 90-minute classes, which allows Robin to vary her teaching styles. She uses videos, debates, student presentations, experiments, small group projects, and lecture to help drive home the subject at hand. Her students say there is no "average" day in Ms. McLean's class!

Robin strives to better herself and her FFA chapter. She has helped her chapter become the largest FFA chapter in the state. She has also built partnerships with local businesses and organizations in the community, some of which include the YMCA and DuPont. She also participates in her professional organizations by being an active member in NAAE and giving workshops on various topics in agricultural education.

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