Outstanding Service Awards


It is those that go above and beyond the call of duty that impact our lives the most. Those can be doctors, nurses, your best friend … your teacher. The agricultural education profession provides numerous opportunities for teacher educators to further their professional development and keep up with the times. The NAAE Outstanding Service Citation Award is given to those who serve their profession in professional activities, school activities, and community service.

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Region I
Frank Downs
Retired Duncan High School Agricultural Educator
Duncan, AZ

Downs taught agriculture at Duncan High School for 30 years, recently retiring in 2007.  This past recipient of the Arizona Educators Award has served the agricultural education profession with three terms on the University of Arizona Agricultural Education advisory committee.  Downs has also mentored 14 student teacher interns as they completed their undergraduate work at the University of Arizona.

During his career as an agricultural educator, Downs advised 110 students who received their state FFA degrees, the highest award given by the Arizona FFA Association. During his tenure, FFA members also participated in seven trips to the national range and pasture and national land judging contests in Oklahoma, and eight other teams competed at the National FFA Convention. 

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Region II
Dr. Bradley Leger
LSU Agriscience Specialist
Eshterwood, LA

Dr. Leger has worn several different hats for agricultural education in Louisiana.  He began his agricultural education career as a teacher, and then served as the executive secretary for the Louisiana FFA Association before continuing to his current position as an agriscience program specialist.  As a specialist Leger helps agricultural educators in southern Louisiana with classroom curriculum and agricultural education standards.

During his teaching career, Leger won the National Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association’s (former name of NAAE) state outstanding young teacher award and regional outstanding teacher award in 1982 and 1992, respectively.  Starting in 2000, he led a major effort to reorganize the Louisiana FFA Alumni Association.  During his service as the Louisiana FFA executive secretary, he worked with the state FFA officers and cooperated with state and national partners to organize Louisiana Team Ag Ed.  He has been an outstanding advocate for Louisiana agricultural education through many efforts, including meeting with legislatures during the annual FFA at the Capitol Day and serving as the legislative task force committee chair for the Louisiana Vocational Association from 1999 to 2000.

"Leger was our first executive secretary and under his leadership the Louisiana FFA Association has flourished.  His work with the state FFA officer program has been surpassed by few.  Leger’s Team Ag Ed approach has strengthened Louisiana agricultural education and the FFA," said Kathy Conerly, agricultural educator at Zachary High School and NAAE Region II Vice-President.

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Region III
Paul Larson
Agriculture Educator
Freedom , WI

Throughout his 21 years of teaching, Larson has followed the belief that he should be working for the betterment of the profession whenever the opportunity arises.  He has followed this belief closely throughout his career, leading him to be an avid presenter at Wisconsin summer development workshops.  Larson has worked hard to improve the profession by giving teachers tools they can use in the classroom to improve student learning.  Along with his continued activity with other educators, Larson has worked to develop opportunities for his students through class activities and career development events.  He has willingly served as a judge in career development events at all levels, assisted with student centered activities at the national FFA convention, and served on the state FFA officer selection committee.

Along with his presenting and volunteering, Larson has received many awards and honors throughout his career.  He was selected to attend the Delta II national training conference in 2006, along with many of his fellow agriculture teachers from across the nation.  Larson remains active in his professional organizations by serving on committees, taking on the responsibility of office, and attending conferences and workshops annually.

"Students are the most important asset in agricultural education," said Larson.  "If I can help the profession be strong, everyone will benefit including our most important component, the students."

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Region IV
Keith Dietzschold
Chilliocothe Agricultural Educator
Chilliocothe, MO

Dietzschold has devoted his career to the service of the agricultural education profession.  He influenced youth in agriculture through 23 years of instruction as an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor.  During his career, Dietzschold motivated students to be competitive and achieve at a high levels in various career development events.  This recipient of Honorary State and American FFA Degrees has received several educator awards, including the Missouri Association of Career and Technical Educators Teacher of the Year Award, the Eddy Award from Missouri Public Education, and the Chillicothe Teacher of the Year in 1997, 1998 and 2006, respectively.

While Dietzshold has been recognized for his outstanding work in the classroom, he has been equally influential in professional organizations.  He has served as the executive treasurer, president and as chairman of several committees on the Missouri Vocational Agriculture Teacher’s Association.

"Keith was responsible for all the initial work with setting up the accounting in addition to managing the finances and making regular financial reports to our state organization," said Pam Proffitt-Rowland, Couch High School agricultural educator.  "Keith’s service to our professional organization at the regional and state level has contributed to our strength as an association."

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Region V
Russell Watson
Agricultural Educator
McMinnville, TN

Throughout his 41 years of teaching, Watson has been very involved in the curriculum changes for many agriculture courses.  Early in his career, he realized the need to incorporate courses that were not all production agriculture into the program.  With McMinnville being considered the "nursery capitol of the world," Watson began to incorporate courses such as greenhouse management and agribusiness.  These kinds of courses were more relevant to his students’ lives, which led to increased learning and improved retention.
Watson has served on state and national curriculum committees, and he served as a reviewer for many textbooks now on the market.  He began to incorporate math, science and language into the curriculum, giving agriscience courses the opportunity to count towards core credits. 

Along with his service to agricultural education as whole, Watson has also been very successful in his own classroom.  Whether it is because of the changes he has made or simply his passion and dedication to the profession, he is doing something right.  His agriculture department and FFA chapter has seen numerous American and state FFA degree recipients, national and state finalists in proficiency award areas, and 40 national gold chapter emblems.  His students have also been very motivated in continuing their education, with many of them receiving not only a Bachelor’s degree, but masters and doctorates as well.  His students are not the only ones that have been influenced by Watson’s work; his service has continued into the professional organizations in which he is involved.  Watson is someone to whom students and fellow teachers alike can look advice.            

"Mr. Russell Watson has not only served as an educator and FFA advisor, but as a mentor to his students," said Tracy Risinger, Warren County School System Career and Technical Education Director.  "It is easy to see that his accomplishments during his 41 year tenure have definitely made a difference in the lives of his students."

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Region VI
Gerald Reichard
PAAE Executive Secretary
Waynesboro, PA

With over 40 years of membership in NAAE, Reichard’s service to the agricultural education community has been extremely valuable.  He has taught agriculture in four school districts, most recently at Waynesboro Area Senior High School.  For the past 11 years, he has served as the Executive Secretary for the Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators (PAAE).  This honorary American FFA degree recipient has also served terms on the executive board of the Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators.

"During the past 11 years as the executive secretary he has supported and mentored the state association presidents and their executive boards to implement professional educational conferences and bi-yearly regional update meetings," said Michael Shultz, PAAE award committee chairman.  "He also closely monitors the Pennsylvania General Assembly legislative initiatives, as well as the State Board of Education procedural rulings."

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