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.

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Region I
Todd Rightmire
Mt. Baker High School
Deming , Washington

"I emphasize student responsibility in everything I do and provide opportunities for all of our students to succeed in our program whether raising animals or completing projects," stated Rightmire, the Vocational Director and agricultural educator at Mount Baker High School. "Our goal is to prepare students for careers that will make them productive citizens and give them the tools necessary to be life long learners." Since August 1993, Rightmire has taught students to accept responsibility, be accountable, do more than what is expected, and challenge them to be their best.

Rightmire focuses his coursework on careers and provides opportunities for his students to apply skills they have learned. Under his direction, students manage 100 acres of timber, manage a steelhead hatchery, manufacture trailers, and conduct lab analyses on feed samples.

Rightmire also serves as the Vice President of Trout Unlimited, a tour guide for the Black Mountain Forestry Center, and is a member of the Science Curriculum Review Committee.

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Region II
Larry Liston
Moore High School
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Liston has been a key player in the Moore Agricultural Education Department for the past 15 years. Serving as the program's Horticulture instructor, Liston has always served as a positive role model, a leader, and innovator. "Each student should have the opportunity to achieve academic excellence and develop skills, so he or she may lead a happy, successful and productive life," expressed Liston. "My students plant seeds in the greenhouse, while I plant seeds in the classroom."

Liston's goal is to academically challenge each student and find a way for them to excel. His horticulture students learn and practice skills in time management, communication, organization and entrepreneurship. The students manage the greenhouse as a business, produce a raised garden and maintain an award winning FFA Chapter. As a teacher, Liston's greatest reward is watching his students achieve success, knowing that he has helped enrich a young person's life. During Liston's 35 years as a teacher, his love for teaching has remained unwavering.

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Region III
David Hill
Benton Community High School
Dysart, Iowa

"I realize I am not superman…but I do strive to make a positive difference in the life of every student I can," expressed Hill. In the past nine years as the agricultural education teacher at Benton Community High School, David Hill has been able to take a dismantled program and has built his students a program that encourages knowledge and growth. Hill successfully did this by developing a curriculum that is challenging and full of hands-on experience that caters to the variety of his students' interest

Hill believes that, "Because we deal with real-life situations, agricultural education does a better job of showing students the relevance of what they are learning in class." Through developing curriculums and activities that involve the community, not only has Hill expanded the opportunities of learning for his students but has also spread a positive image of agricultural education.

"I am an agricultural educator by choice, not by chance," Hill expressed. It is this attitude and dedication that has turned Hill in to a successful agriculture educator. "Choice" is what has made a difference in the lives of students at Benton Community High School.

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Region IV
Gregory Curlin
Switzerland County High School
Vevay, Indiana

"I work to bestow into my students the importance of agricultural life in the areas of production, business, science and biotechnology," stated Curlin. For the past fourteen years, Curlin has taken the Switzerland County agricultural education program from a 40-student program struggling to stay a loft to an amazing 176 students enrolled. When Curlin began teaching he knew that he had to develop a curriculum that would be of interest to a larger more diverse audience. Today, Curlin teaches courses in animal science, horticulture, landscape, food science, agribusiness and agricultural mechanics.

As an alumnus of Switzerland County High School Curlin understands the importance his program and community can have on students lives. Curlin has been able to take students who no nothing of agricultural and turned them into well-versed advocates of the importance of agriculture.

Curlin not only has expanded his program over the years, but has also continued to improve on his professionalism. Curlin has served as a member for various associations and advisory boards and has work closely with Purdue University over the years.

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Region V
Raymond Caviness
Eastern Randolph High School
Ramseur, North Carolina

Caviness has taught agricultural education for 29 years. Twenty-six of those years have been spent at Eastern Randolph High School. Never has Caviness dreaded a day of going to school to teach his students. He has a strong desire for his students to leave his class each day with an accomplishment that makes them a better individual.

"I do know that any and all of our students will learn, and more importantly, will retain those things they have had the opportunity to do hands-on," expressed Caviness. While creating a curriculum geared towards Agriscience, he immediately began developing laboratories for his students to have real life experiences. Students, under Caviness's guidance, constructed an on campus arboretum, production greenhouses, an aquaculture and bioponics laboratory, and a large animal facility. He also implemented a Horticulture program, an Animal Science curriculum, and an Agriscience Research and Biotechnology course.

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Region VI
Jason Hughes
St. Mary's High School
St. Mary's, West Virginia

Over the past twelve years somewhere in the middle of class work, labs, field trips FFA events and community work, Jason Hughes has succeed in helping his students find their calling in life. Hughes commented, "I became an Agricultural Education teacher for two reasons, a passion to make a difference in the lives of others and a passion for agriculture and environment."

"Diversity is an important concept to me and I feel that what and how I teach offers something for every one of my students," stated Hughes. By offering courses in biotechnology, agriscience, forestry and ecology, Hughes has given his students the opportunity to explore the entire industry of agriculture, which compliments the diverse interest of his students and the community.

Hughes agricultural science program has been able to build many strong and beneficial partnerships within the community and the state during the past several years. Hughes stated, "Students receive the opportunity to be involved with the citizens, community organizations, business and industry, as well as state agencies."

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