Outstanding Middle/Secondary Program Awards


Sensational. This is the best way to describe this year's NAAE Outstanding Middle/Secondary School Agriculture Education Programs, sponsored by the National FFA Alumni Association.

The NAAE Awards these programs for their overall success, growth, and motivation.

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Region I
Flathead High School Ag Dept.
Kalispell, MT
Instructors: Clark Krantz, Justin Heupel, and Brian Bay

The Flathead High School Agriculture Department's roots extend back to 1907, when an agriculture club was initiated. This development was followed by the addition of courses in vocational agriculture around the time of the Smith-Hughes Act. The Flathead FFA chapter is one of the original charter chapters of 1930 and has remained as one of the few chapters in the United States that have incorporated business.

The Henry E. Robinson Agricultural Center serves as a satellite campus that provides students at Flathead High School and Kalispell Junior High School with opportunities to explore the many facets of agricultural education. The HER Ag Center facilities include a labs for science, computer stations, mechanics, and also includes a 30' x 60' greenhouse. A complete working farm supplements what is learned in the classroom for students. This farm includes 10 acres of wheat, 30 acres of barley, 40 acres of alfalfa hay, a farrow to finish hog operation, along with 15 acres of pasture where beef cattle, sheep and horses are produced.

The teaching philosophy of the Flathead High School Ag Department are integrated directly into the classroom and and are fundamental to the manner in which the program operates. Enrollment in the agricultural programs offered at Flathead High School is at an all-time high. Less than 1% of students in the agricultural programs offered at Flathead come from an agricultural background; therefore, there is a critical need to provide students with foundational and practical agricultural experiences that incorporate a global understanding of agriculture and its future.

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Region II
Jenks Public Schools
Tulsa, OK
Instructors: Nick Brown and Randy Cook

The Jenks High School Agriculture Department has experienced unprecedented growth over the past few years, allowing for the addition of a teaching partner in the department and the expansion of classes from four to eight since 2002. Each day, Nick Brown and Randy Cook work toward developing opportunities for experiential learning, as few of their students have traditional backgrounds in agricultural areas.

Brown and Cook have worked to establish strong partnerships with organizations and individuals within the community to ensure that their students are exposed to diverse curriculums and opportunities for further learning. Furthermore, Jenks FFA officers have worked diligently to educate the students and the community about the benefits of the FFA and agricultural education in an area in which there is little exposure to traditional agriculture.

When asked to reflect on their decision to pursue careers in agricultural education, Brown and Cook have similar sentiments. "My mission as an agricultural education instructor is to teach my students to set goals, work hard to reach those goals, and do everything possible to develop their potential," said Brown. Like Brown, Cook places tremendous value the daily interaction he has with his students. "Every person has the ability to learn and should be given the opportunity to further their education. Giving knowledge and skills to the students is only one part of the picture though. If students realize that I care what their future holds, they will be willing to learn the information taught in class," emphasized Cook.

Region III
Janesville Craig High School
Janesville, WI
Instructor: Diane Runde and Rick Henningfeld

The agriculture department in the Janesville High School district closed in 1968 after a split in the school. In 1996, the program was reinstated and Diane Runde was brought on board to rebuild the program. At this point, Runde went through an extensive recruitment process that has continued over the past 10 years. The Janesville Craig High School ag program went from 40 students in 1996, to 215 in 2006. Since then, Rick Henningfeld has joined Runde in her efforts to develop a quality agricultural education program that exposes students to the diverse offerings of the agricultural industry today.

Both Runde and Henningfeld hold similar teaching philosophies. They place tremendous value in hands-on experiential methods of teaching that include rigorous math, science, and communications skills alongside more traditional means of agriculture. Runde and Henningfeld believe that if the agricultural industry continues to grow and thrive in an urban setting such as the Janesville School District, students must experience the career benefits and academic rigor through the agricultural curriculum that is offered.

The Janesville Craig Ag Department has formed many new partnerships within the last year to support new course offerings such as small animal care and management. Through this course students were able to perform an egg-injection lab that hatched blue, yellow, red and green chicks. The chicks were then showcased in the school, accompanied by information regarding the background of the chicks and the process used to dye the chicks. Another strong partnership within the department is with the FFA Alumni. Students are able to work hand-in-hand with alumni to conduct a career development event each spring. The Janesville FFA also works with the local Chevrolet dealer to raise funds for an agricultural scholarship that supports its members.

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Region IV
Branch Area Careers Center
Quincy, MI
Instructor: Carrie Preston and Bill Earl

The Branch Area Careers Center (BACC) works with approximately 600 students in the 11th and 12th grades, covering 11 school districts in a 4 county area. BACC also offers an evening program for students in the 8th, 9th and 10th grades. The BACC FFA chapter has over 100 members and also includes and active alumni chapter.

BACC teaching facilities compliment the three areas of a successful agriculture program. The 180 acre farm lab works with beef, sheep, poultry, and swine. Crop production is another major focus of the working farm lab with corn and soybean test plots that are planted in cooperation with local dealers. Natural resources education units are enhanced through the use of a 10 acre wood lot. Instructors Carrie Preston and Bill Earl find multiple opportunities to encourage active learning in which their students get out of their seats and onto their feet. They believe that learning by doing is the best way for students to retain what they have learned.

Marketing the diverse offerings of the BACC is a critical component of its success because students must give up half of their day to participate. Each spring and fall tours are given to daycare's, pre-schools and kindergartners. Both 8th and 10th grade tours are also given, showcasing the facilities to prospective students. Remaining visible within the community helps contribute to the success of this unique program.


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Region V
Irwin County Agriculture Department
Ocilla, Georgia
Instructors: Ira Tucker, Wesley Paulk, Shayla Kisling, and Stacey Jones

The Irwin County Agriculture Department is located in an area in which the two largest industries are agriculture and education. Approximately 60 percent of the region is farm land and the local school board is the largest employer within the area. The ag department is made of up four teachers that work with both middle and high school students in the same facility.

The teaching philosophy of the Irwin County Agriculture Department is that of student achievement in the classroom and beyond. Students are encouraged to set goals and participate in the opportunities provided to them through the FFA. Instructors Ira Tucker, Wesley Paulk, Shayla Kisling and Stacey Jones strive to develop the confidence of their students along with self-esteem that they will carry with them well after their involvement in the program.

Agricultural courses offered through the Irwin County schools emphasize the importance of producing value-added products that will help ensure the longevity of traditional agriculture. One way that the concept of value-added products is demonstrated is through that of comparing average bushel prices of whole corn with that of grits and corn meal. Students are then educated about all of the inputs involved in production of the crop, obtaining prices for corn, and comparing the net value of the whole product verses the value-added product such as grits. The students are then able to follow through the production process, and make grits and corn meal. The Irwin County Agriculture Department firmly believes that the best way for a student to learn is to make practical application of the skills they are taught in the classroom.

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Region VI
Killingly High School
Tolland, CT
Instructor: Kenneth Couture, Bonnie Kegler, Jim Pomeroy, and Douglas Butterfield

The Killingly Agriculture Education Center was established in 1956 as a regional ag center as a means of providing cost-effective vocational education. As the regional center, Killingly works with students from eleven towns in the surrounding area, making for a total of approximately 105 students.

The Killingly Agriculture Education Center offers a diverse curriculum, covering the areas of plant science systems, animal science, natural resources and environmental science, aqua-culture and marine-related systems, and ag mechanics. Few opportunities for traditional agricultural production practices exist in the area; however, students in the program reflect the changing nature of agriculture in the northeast. Areas such as the green industry, horse and small livestock related fields, veterinary related jobs, small engine repair and natural resources are a few of the many areas covered by the program.

The most effective recruitment tool of Killingly is that of student involvement. Current students in the program give talks about each of the areas of study or give group tours of the agriculture facilities.

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