Awards

Outstanding Teacher Awards

Enthusiastic, motivated, inspiring... these are just a few words that describe an Outstanding Teacher. The NAAE Outstanding Teacher Awards go to agriculture teachers that have kept a tradition of excellence in their program along with the inborn love for agriculture. This year the Outstanding Teacher Award is sponsored by Syngenta.

Region I
Michael Schrag
Ritzville High School
Ritzville, Washington
Region IV
Don Wheeler
Laker High School
Pigeon, Michigan
Region II
Kurt Dillon
Atwood High School
Atwood, Kansas
Region V
John Blankenship
Halls High School
Knoxville, Tennessee
Region III
Dennis Mottl
Fullerton Public School
Fullerton, Nebraska
Region VI
William Davenport
Nonnewaug High School
Woodbury, Connecticut

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Region I
Michael Schrag
Ritzville High School
Ritzville , Washington

"My personal teaching philosophy is students learn best by application learning," said Schrag, the agricultural teacher at Ritzville High School. "That is why everything I teach in the classroom or shop can be applied to a career development event (CDE) or the FFA."

During his tenure as the agricultural instructor, Schrag has experienced much success and assisted his students in gaining numerous career and leadership skills. Out of the 110 students attending Ritzville High School, 55 are enrolled in agricultural courses and are members of the FFA. The Ritzville FFA Chapter has been fortunate to win 26 state CDE programs and 19 national CDE programs. Schrag has assisted 19 students to earn the American FFA Degree and 149 students to earn the

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Region II
Kurt Dillion
Atwood High School
Atwood, Kansas

"Mr. Dillon ‘lives to serve' in every aspect of his life, most importantly in his role as a teacher," said Matthew Wolters, one of his former students. An active community servant, Kurt Dillon, the agricultural instructor at Atwood High School in Kansas, carries this spirit into the classroom. The FFA chapter has provided renovations to baseball fields, picked up trash along roadways and helped with recycling programs. Additionally, the Atwood FFA was a pilot school for the Partners in Active Learning Support (PALS) program in Kansas in which high school students mentor younger students. The chapter has been called upon to share their experiences on the national level several times.

According to Dillon, one of the highlights of his career was having an American Star Farmer and a National FFA Officer during the same year. It was even more special for him to see one present the award to the other as both of these students came from the same class.

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Region III
Dennis Mottl
Fullerton Public School
Fullerton, Nebraska

Dennis Mottl, an agriculture teacher for nearly 30 years at Fullerton Public School in Nebraska, plans his classroom instruction with student learning as the central theme. He believes the most important word in the English language is "try." He strives to create appreciation and enthusiasm for new challenges and opportunities to learn. Mottl also tries to instill upon his students the desire to make the world a better place.

The Fullerton FFA chapter takes an active role in the community. Several years ago, the chapter revived the county food pantry. Since then, an annual food drive has occurred in the Fullerton community.

Mottl also works to develop himself professionally. He has attended many workshops as well as co-organized agribusiness tours for educators. He has also supervised over 20 student teachers.

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Region IV
Don Wheeler
Laker High School
Pigeon, Michigan

Don Wheeler, the agriculture teacher at Laker High School in Michigan for over 30 years, has never wanted to do anything else but teach. He further vows to stay in the profession until it is no longer fun, which is not anywhere on the horizon. The main reason Wheeler wanted to become a teacher was his belief in the FFA. Wheeler believes the FFA is the carrot that leads the horse to achieve.

The Laker FFA has indeed accomplished many great feats. In addition to success in Career Development Events (CDE), each year the chapter partners with the Pigeon Telephone Company to operate a telethon to support the Church World Service CROP Charity, which aids in disaster relief. Funds are also allocated to the local Meals-On-Wheels. Additionally, the chapter partners with the Huron County Farm Bureau to educate third graders about agriculture as well as assist at the Huron County Fair.

Wheeler has also interacted professionally with other teachers on state and national levels. Through attending various workshops, Wheeler has gained additional insight into teaching.

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Region V
John Blankenship
Halls High School
Knoxville, Tennessee

John Blankenship, an agriculture teacher for nearly 30 years in Tennessee, has a simple and straightforward teaching philosophy: show me the learning. Blankenship views the progression of a new student toward achieving the American Degree and then employment in their chosen field as the ultimate indicator that learning has indeed occurred.

Blankenship works to integrate opportunities to demonstrate an application of knowledge while at the same time benefiting the community. The North Knox FFA Chapter partnered with the Halls Business and Professional Organization, AmeriCorp and civic-minded residents to plant 260 trees along a barren stretch of highway. The chapter also processed over 3,000 native tree saplings as part of a partnership with the local watershed district.

Blankenship has attended countless university workshops and institutes. He also served as president of the Tennessee Agriculture Teachers Association.

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Region VI
William Davenport
Nonnewaug High School
Woodbury, Connecticut

William Davenport, the agricultural instructor at Nonnewaug High School, believes in setting the bar high. He has developed a highly reputable and competitive program that selects a limited number of students each year to enter the program from up to 26 surrounding towns. The Woodbury FFA further boosts an impressive list of record-breaking accomplishments. In 2001, Woodbury FFA made history with three National FFA proficiency award winners and again in 2002 when the chapter had eleven judging teams qualify for national competition. The chapter also boosts 100% membership. The chapter was also highlighted in the national public television production "Voices of Vision" that was aired last fall.

Davenport holds an assortment of professional accomplishments including being selected as the first agriculture teacher to be named Connecticut's Teacher of the Year. He has served as the State FFA Advisor and is also involved with the Connecticut Farm Bureau and Pork Producer's Association.

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