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
Dennis Digenan
Retired Agricultural Educator
Elko, NV

Dennis Digenan

For more than 30 years, Digenan served his students and agricultural education with enthusiasm, leadership and professionalism. From 1978 to 1993, he taught at Wells High School, where he built up the FFA chapter with numerous members competing at the state and national level. Digenan created an agriculture program at Spring Creek High School in 1993, which at that time was a brand-new school. According to his application, Digenan had three goals in mind when creating new classes at Spring Creek – to expose his students to everyday problems and challenges, teach them practical skills in an innovative way, and prepare them for life after graduation. With his influence, Digenan’s students went on to be educators, lawyers, ranchers, and veterinarians.

However, Digenan’s dedication to the profession went beyond his own program. In 1997, he helped co-author a bill for the Nevada legislature that funded $200,000 each year for the five Nevada career and technical student organizations. He also was an active member in NAAE and the Nevada Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association (NVATA), as well as in many other professional organizations. He served as president of both the Nevada Vocational Association and NVATA.

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Region II
Larry Long
Agricultural Educator
Elk City, OK

Larry Long

They say that time flies when you’re having fun, and that has been no exception for Long. In the 42 years that he taught agricultural education, he has also served the profession in countless ways.  As an FFA advisor, he has had more than 116 students earn state FFA degrees and 28 earn American FFA degrees.  He has also served on the National FFA Board of Directors and mentored three student teachers. Long served as the president for the Oklahoma Agricultural Education Teachers Association and represented Region II on the NAAE board of directors.

“Some of my most enjoyable years were serving on the leadership teams of the Oklahoma Agricultural Education Teachers Association (OAETA) and the NAAE,” said Long. “Because of my service, I am fortunate to have met and become friends with agricultural educators from coast to coast.”

Long strongly believes that all educators should be active in professional development and lives by that belief. He has been a member of NAAE and OAETA for more than 40 years, as well as belonging to the state and national levels of the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

Over the years, Long has been honored many times for his dedication to teaching and agricultural education. He has been named teacher of the year by Elk City Public Schools, the Masonic Lodge, and the Department of the Air Force. OAETA recognized Long with the 3-star mentor teacher award. Long has also been awarded honorary state and American FFA degrees.

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Region III
Richard Aide
Retired Agricultural Educator
Fox Lake, WI

Richard Aide

Since 1965, Aide has devoted himself to agricultural education, serving both students and teachers. As an agricultural educator, he took an active role presenting workshops and serving on committees on a national level. The curriculum guide for Wisconsin agricultural education was published as the result of the committee that Aide chaired from 1970-1982. In the late 1980s, he served as a member of the National FFA Agri-Marketing Development Task Force and a committee to integrate science concepts into the agriculture curriculum. Aide also served on the committee that created the Wisconsin FFA Center and served as executive secretary of the Wisconsin FFA for 19 years.

Professional development has played an important role in Aide’s career.  Aide provided leadership to agricultural educators throughout Wisconsin, serving as the executive director of Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators (WAAE) from 1991 to 2008. On the national level, he served as the Region III Vice President for the National Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association (former name of NAAE).  Aide has been a familiar face at NAAE conventions, having only missed two since 1976.

“I feel that my major contribution was to provide a four-day professional development conference with over 60 workshops offered annually to educators to aid them in providing quality programs to their students,” said Aide about his role as executive director for WAAE.

Aide has been recognized for his contributions to agricultural education many times, including the NAAE Lifetime Achievement Award and Wisconsin FFA Distinguished Service Award.

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Region IV
Robert Juncker
Retired Agricultural Education Program Specialist
Franklin, Indiana

Juncker has dedicated his life to the field of agricultural education.  He served as a high school agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Tri-County High School in Wolcott, Ind. for 10 years before joining the Indiana Department of Education.  During his 30 years in the department, he had the opportunity to serve as the state FFA Executive Secretary/Treasurer, Agricultural Education Program Specialist, state FFA Advisor and the state Young Farmers Advisor.

Juncker’s career in agricultural education has reached all levels of students in Indiana.  During his lifetime he has served students by coordinating teacher workshops and securing grants to provide teachers with curriculum materials and lesson plan libraries.  He chaired the FFA American and State Degree committees, supervised the FFA exhibits at the Indiana State Fair, and coordinated 16 FFA state conventions.

 “Mr. Juncker provided dedicated and innovative service to agricultural education in Indiana,” said Archie Sauerheber, NAAE Region VI secretary.

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Region V
William "Pat" Cockrell
Florida Farm Bureau
Gainesville, FL

William "Pat" Cockrell

After graduating from the University of Florida, Cockrell was hired as an agricultural educator in Bartow, Fla. Throughout his time teaching and advising the FFA chapter, his students were recognized on the local, state and national levels. Cockrell himself was recognized by the National Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association (former name of NAAE) as an outstanding young teacher. In 1975, Cockrell began his career at the Florida Farm Bureau. Over the years, he has worked in various areas including agricultural policy, commodity activities, and field services. His current role is as the assistant to the president where his duties include assisting the president with management and board relations and serving as the assistant secretary-treasurer for the Florida Farm Bureau Companies.

Although Cockrell is no longer an agricultural educator himself, he has never stopped supporting agricultural education throughout the state of Florida. He played an important role in the formation of the year-long statewide agriscience leadership program. His work in locating funding and continually supporting this program ensures that agriscience teachers and administrators are able to gain a stronger awareness of agriculture, learn about the legislative process, and grow as leaders.

Working with industry leaders in agriculture, Cockrell is at the head of the creating of Florida’s Agriscience Banner Center. The center will allow individuals in industry to collaborate with educators to develop curriculum to ensure that the workforce needs of agriculture will be met. Under Cockrell’s leadership, the Farm Bureau will work with the Center for Agricultural and Environmental Research and training to develop on-line lesson plans aligned with the National Agriculture Content Standards that will be available through the Agriscience Banner Center.

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Region VI
Clifford Day, Jr.
State FFA Facilitator
Harrisburg, PA

Clifford Day, Jr.

For 32 years, Day taught at the Garden Spot High School in New Holland, Pa. During that time 200 of his students received their state FFA degree, 30 received their American FFA degree, and 15 served as state FFA officers. Day himself has been honored with the Honorary American FFA Degree. The Pennsylvania FFA Association has given Day the Honorary Keystone Degree and the Blue and Gold Award in recognition for his contributions to agricultural education and FFA. Day also served as the Eastern Pennsylvania Region FFA Coordinator for 12 years, where he was in charge of directing all regional level career development event competitions and assisting with state-level contests.

Currently, Day serves as the state FFA facilitator for Pennsylvania. His duties require him to coordinate FFA members’ participation in the Eastern State Exposition, National FFA Convention, and Pennsylvania State Farm Show. At the farm show, he serves as the co-chairman for the FFA youth exhibits. Day also recruits judges for degree applications, proficiency and other awards. He continues to be involved at the local level, serving as the chairman of the sheep show at the New Holland Fair. Day is currently the vice president of the Capital Region Cooperative Extension Board and previously served on the Lancaster County Cooperative Extension Board.

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