Awards

Ideas Unlimited Awards

For years teachers have been exchanging classroom and teaching ideas. This is what keeps the agricultural education programs alive and teachers enthusiastic. The NAAE Ideas Unlimited Award recognizes teachers for developing and sharing innovative ideas with their colleges nationwide.

Each recipient received a plaque and a cash award to attend the annual conference in Kansas City. Delmar Thomson Learning sponsored this award.

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Region I
Kasee Sweat
Spanish Fork High School
Spanish Fork, Utah

Sweat has served the Spanish Fork High School as an agricultural educator for the past 3 years. As the program has grown, she has recognized the need for a system that would inform students and parents about the Spanish Fork Agricultural Education Department. In the summer of 2004, Sweat created the Agriculture Department Guide.

The Department Guide serves as a handbook for the students, allowing them all to have in-depth information about the agriculture department and FFA chapter. This handbook includes a class schedule, information on FFA opportunities and awards, a detailed description of travel requirements, a calendar with the program of activities, and contact information for members on the executive committee. The final section also contains applications that are used by the students throughout the year.

"Parents have expressed their appreciation for having such a complete list of things that their students can become involved in," stated Sweat in regards to her Agriculture Department Guide. Many teachers throughout Utah have also inquired about the handbook and will use it to benefit their programs as well.

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Region II
Cory Wedel
Stratton High School
Burlington, Colorado

Wedel prefers taking a hands-on approach, allowing students to learn by doing. Students spend a minimal amount of time in class learning shop and power tool safety and the basic foundations needed to begin their projects.

In order to ensure a hands-on environment, Wedel needed a project that addressed multiple areas for his Agricultural Education students. "As a unit, the light stand is relevant to nine State Agriculture Education standards in Colorado and is the culminating project that demonstrates student knowledge and skill in those areas," expressed Wedel. He created the "Light Stand" shop project, incorporating math skills, welding, electrical wiring, and construction plans as assignments for his students.

The Light Stand is a very practical way to combine multiple hands-on skills into one useable project. Each light stand can be customized with color, size, length of extension cord, height adjustability, or dual lights.

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Region III
Robyn Graham
Fairbury High School
Clarkson, Nebraska

Serving as the agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor for Fairbury High School, Graham uses a variety of lessons and hands-on learning to teach her students. One of the more creative lessons Graham formulated for her students has been in Floral Design, which she has playfully entitled "Flavorful Floral Arrangements"

Graham's students are taught the principals of floral design such as: balance, focal point, proportion, scale, accent, rhythm, harmony, unity, and basic floral design shapes. As a fun, inexpensive hand on activity, Graham has her students demonstrate their floral design skills by designing a floral arrangement using Dum-Dum Suckers, tissue paper, a coffee cup and a Styrofoam ball.

By combing the knowledge students have acquired through in-class instruction and applying it to a fun hands-on activity, Graham's students are going to walk away with great new skills and a great new present idea for mom on Mother's Day.

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Region IV
Eric Richer
Wauseon High School
Wauseon, Ohio

Serving as the agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor for Wauseon High School, Richer uses a variety of lessons and hands-on learning to teach his students. One of the more creative lessons Richer formulated for his students has been in Landscape Design and Turfgrass Management, which focuses on the needs of students interested in the "Green Industry" of horticulture.

In order to help his students better understand the classroom concepts of designing and maintaining golf course greens Richer incorporated a lab practicum where his student could design and install a working putting green on school grounds.

By using the putting green laboratory, Richer's students formed partnerships with many people in the community. In doing so, Richer was able to develop a new resource of learning for his students by utilizing the expertise of respected community businesses. In addition, students where able to develop relationships with the community that may lead to future employment endeavors.

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Region V
Michael Johnson
Wake Forest-Rolesville High School
Wake Forest, North Carolina

Johnson, the agricultural educator for Wake Forest-Rolesville High School, provides valuable, hands-on instruction while teaching his students. During the Landscape Construction and Maintenance Unit, he presents the design, selection, adjustment, and installation of an irrigation system in a landscape project. Johnson had to overcome funding issues and space limitations in order to provide instruction on sprinklers in a real world setting.

"I developed a device to hold and test a number of different sprinkler heads for student labs," stated Johnson. The device is made from PVC pipe, 4 ball valves, and a connector that allows a typical garden hose to be attached to the pipe. The type and brand of sprinklers can be changed in order to simulate different conditions the students may face. Johnson's system eliminates the need for expensive irrigation equipment and large areas for testing. The students have had tremendous success working with the portable irrigation system.

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Region VI
Cheryl Matthewson
Nathan Hale-Ray High School
Moodus, Connecticut

Serving as the agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor for Nathan Hale-Ray High School, Matthewson uses a variety of lessons and hands-on learning to teach her students. One of the more creative lessons Matthewson formulated for her students has been a food science unit, which she teaches in her Introduction to Agriculture course.

Matthewson designed this unit in order to give her students the opportunity to experience what goes into the creation of a new food product. Matthewson was able to successfully meet a variety of educational goals by implementing the use of skills such as; math, writing, communication, technology and teamwork.

The project was designed to have students work in teams of three or four. Their task was to select a company name and a project manager who would report daily to Matthewson on their progress. The overall objective was to design, create and market a new, healthier breakfast cereal for children. The winning team, selected by a panel comprised of community members, will go on to represent their FFA chapter in the State FFA Food Science contest.

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