NAAE awards the Lifetime Achievement Award to individuals who have contributed to the advancement of agricultural education on a regional or national level.
In a career that spans nearly 40 years, Dr. Miller has experienced and achieved many things and impacted numerous lives. Starting as a high school agricultural educator in Mayer, Ariz., Miller moved to the University of Arizona in 1981 to take a position as a lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Education. In this role, he taught classes and directed new agriculture teachers. After pursuing his doctorate degree at Mississippi State University, Miller returned to the University of Arizona as an assistant professor of agricultural education and eventually advanced to full professorship.
Miller has always been active in professional organizations, serving as an officer for several years with the Arizona Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association and as a member of the NAAE. Additionally, he has been active in various areas of agricultural mechanics, including teaching college classes, assisting with the National FFA Organization’s Agricultural Mechanics Career Development Event, and as a member of the National Agricultural Mechanics Committee.
Miller has been recognized for his accomplishments and contributions by many organizations. Such awards include the Honorary American FFA Degree, District Agricultural Teacher of the Year, and Outstanding Professor by the Jacobs Cline Society at the University of Arizona.
Dr. Weber has been involved in agricultural education and the National FFA Organization as a member, teacher, advisor, or supporter since 1953. He taught agriculture for 34 years, with 32 years at South Lafourche High School. During his tenure, South Lafourche High School had 14 area FFA officers, six state FFA officers, and multiple Career Development Event (CDE) teams compete at the state and national level. His chapter was continually ranked as one of the top ten chapters in Louisiana between 1967 and 1995.
After retiring from the South Lafourche agriculture program in 1995, Dr. Weber taught animal science at Nicholls State University for four years. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Weber devoted his time to professional organizations. He has been a member of the Louisiana Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association for 49 years, serving as an officer and committee member multiple times. Additionally, Dr. Weber served as the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) Region II Vice President from 1973 to 1976 and as the national president from 1976 to 1977.
Drone started his career in Bloomington in 1976. Faced with the challenge of stabilizing the program and growing its funding, he got right to work establishing an advisory committee and planning new curriculum. Thanks to his dedication in the classroom, students were able to experience a variety of opportunities. Some of these included growing crops on the school’s land, working with apples, grapes, and perennial plantings in the arboretum they developed, and building a greenhouse.
“Seeing students grow and mature once they were in my program was the highlight of my career,” Drone said. “It makes one feel great to know that your influence has made a difference in these young people’s lives.”
Throughout his career, Drone has also made it a priority to support his colleagues in the profession. Throughout his 30 years in the classroom, he served as a cooperating teacher for several student teachers. His last student teacher even went on to become his replacement after his retirement. Drone has been named as an outstanding teacher by many organizations, including NAAE in 2006.
Since his retirement four years ago, Drone has stayed active with his local agricultural education program and FFA. He is heavily involved in the Meats Evaluation Career Development Event and has served as an official for numerous meats evaluation contests. Additionally, he has taken on a new role as the Executive Secretary for the Wisconsin Association of Meat Processors, allowing him to continue his interest in the meat industry.
When looking at Geswein’s long list of accomplishments, it’s plain to see that agriculture and agricultural education hold a special meaning for him. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from Purdue University in 1969, he went on to be the agricultural educator at four schools throughout Indiana. At each school, he influenced students and helped them develop a strong path towards their future. During his teaching career, he advised members who were elected to National FFA Office, State FFA Office, received American and State FFA Degrees, competed in numerous state Career Development Events, and were awarded several district and state FFA Proficiency Awards. Additionally, five of his students eventually went on to become agricultural educators themselves.
Outside of the classroom, Geswein always made it a priority to stay involved with numerous professional organizations to continue learning and further the success of agricultural education. As a lifetime member of NAAE, he has served as the alternate Region IV Vice President, co-hosted and chaired the Region IV Summer Meeting, represented NAAE on the National FFA Alumni Council, and played an important role on several committees. Additionally, he served as the state president for the Indiana Association of Agricultural Educators (IAAE), where he started a state mentoring program. Geswein has also played an active role in the Indiana Association for Career and Technical Education, the National Agriculture Supervision Association, the National Young Farmer Executive Committee, and the Indiana FFA Foundation.
During his 31 year teaching career, James had a goal to find a place for every student in agricultural education, and to motivate each student to excel in his or her area. By teaching a wide variety of agriculture classes including production agriculture, horticulture, agriculture mechanics, environmental science and leadership, James made sure each student would find something in which he or she was interested. His students succeeded both in the classroom and in FFA, where he had 11 state officers, 46 junior state officers, 58 proficiency award winners and many state and national Career Development Event (CDE) contestants.
Outside of the classroom, James was dedicated to advancing agricultural education through professional development, serving as an officer in multiple organizations. Starting in 1999, James served as the NAAE Region V Secretary for three years and as the NAAE Region V Vice President for an additional three years. He also served as the NAAE President during 2006-2007. Because of his dedication to agricultural education, many organizations have bestowed James with outstanding teacher awards. Most recently, James received the 2006 Mississippi Teacher of the Year Award and the Choctaw County Teacher of the Year Award.
Miller has been highly involved in a variety of areas of agricultural education for more than 50 years. Beginning his career as an FFA member, he went on to pursue a degree in agricultural education at the University of Maryland. After a very successful teaching career at Gaithersburg High School from 1966 until 1976, Miller served as the Executive Secretary of the Maryland FFA Association and later the Maryland FFA Association Advisor and Agricultural Education Specialist. In these roles, he played a large part in establishing the Maryland FFA Foundation, Leadership Conference, and Legislative Conference. He also served on the National FFA Board of Directors and National FFA Board of Trustees from 1982 to 1990.
In the early 1990s, Miller returned to the local school system. Until his retirement in 2005, he was the Assistant Superintendent for Career and Technology Education at Frederick County Public Schools. During his tenure, agricultural class offerings expanded, teachers were able to impact more students by being promoted to 11- or 12-month employees, and agricultural education became a part of middle and elementary school education.
Since retiring, Miller continues to offer his assistance to agricultural education, working as a consultant for the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation. Through this position, he and others work to improve existing agriscience programs and start new ones. This never-ending dedication to agricultural education has resulted in not only numerous awards and honors for Miller, but changed lives for the students and teachers with whom he has had the opportunity to work.