Outstanding Cooperation Awards


The Outstanding Cooperation Award is presented to organizations, agribusinesses, industry or individuals that have provided exemplary service to agricultural education at the national level. This year's award recipients contributed their time, their talents, and in some case their finances to ensure the success of agricultural education.

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Region I
Senator Taylor Brown
Northern Broadcasting System
Billings, Montana

In the state of Montana, Senator Brown is known for his dedication to and advocacy for agricultural education. Through his regional radio and television network, Northern Broadcasting System, Brown provides radio coverage of youth agriculture events and uses this platform to make the public aware of agricultural education.

Brown has been a board member of Montana Range Days since 1981. Montana Range Days is an annual event that provides nearly 300 FFA members, 4-H youth, and ranchers with an opportunity to learn about range and resource management. He also served as the president of his local FFA Alumni Chapter for 14 years, provides keynote addresses at FFA banquets, state events, and numerous functions, judges at Career Development Event (CDE) contests, and sponsors the Montana and Wyoming state prepared public speaking CDE.

As a senator, Brown co-sponsored a bill drafted by the Montana Association of Agricultural Educators to advance agricultural education in the state of Montana. With Brown’s support and influence, the bill was passed, providing financial support for schools to start an agricultural education program or improve existing programs.

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Region II
Randy Gilbert
Gilbert & Sons Trucking
Tecumseh, Oklahoma

Dale DeWitt

Gilbert has been involved with agricultural education nearly his entire life. Starting as a member of the Tecumseh FFA Chapter, he pursued a degree in Agricultural Education from Oklahoma State University. He taught agriculture at Lawton High School in Lawton, Okla. before returning home to the family business, Gilbert and Sons Trucking. Gilbert has worked tirelessly to promote agricultural education and the success of students. He has served on the Oklahoma FFA Foundation Board of Trustees and has been the chairman for Pottawatomie County Junior Livestock Show and the Pottawatomie County Free Fair Board.

“In all of the leadership roles Mr. Gilbert has assumed, his purpose has remained unchanged: to promote agricultural education programs, ag ed instructors and, most importantly, our agricultural education students,” said Jeremy Frye, agricultural educator at Tecumseh High School, who nominated Gilbert for the award.

Oklahoma agriculture students have repeatedly been the beneficiaries of Gilbert’s efforts. During his time on the Oklahoma FFA Foundation Board of Trustees, he was instrumental in establishing a chapter trust program that raised over $1 million for scholarships and to fund various activities. As a member of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education Board, Gilbert advocated for agricultural education at every turn. His support and the support of others led to an annual program incentive fund increase of nearly $7,000.

“Not only has Mr. Gilbert committed his life to promote agriculture, agricultural education and agricultural youth, moreover, he has truly made a difference in the lives of others,” Frye said. “Agricultural education programs, instructors, and FFA members in Oklahoma are blessed to have the advocate that is Mr. Randy Gilbert.”

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Region III
Don Josko
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Steve DeWitt

Currently a Territorial Sales Manager for Burton Floral and Garden (BFG), Josko is a former agricultural educator who understands what agriculture teachers need. He routinely takes time out of his schedule to present horticulture workshops for teachers, answer a question that may arise in a greenhouse in another state, and he personally sponsors scholarships for teachers and students in agricultural education. Josko offers his knowledge to teachers free of charge in order to provide them with the information they need.

“As a former agricultural education instructor, he truly understands what the classroom, politics and working in a public school is like,” said a representative of the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators (WAAE), who nominated Josko for the award. “He has been not only a workshop presenter, but a mentor, counselor and friend to many of the instructors in our state.”

During his time as a teacher, Josko was a member of NAAE and the South Dakota Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association, where he served in multiple officer positions. Since stepping out of the classroom, he has stayed involved wherever possible, including serving on the panel to interview State FFA Officer candidates, being a guest lecturer at several universities, and conducting the South Dakota FFA Nursery and Landscape Career Development Event for 15 years.

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Region IV
GreenStone Farm Credit Services
Hillsdale, Michigan

No matter where you are in the state of Michigan, it is likely that you have benefitted from the support of GreenStone Farm Credit Services’ local branches and representatives. Every year, GreenStone supplies judges for district, regional and state FFA leadership contests. Company employees are very knowledgeable about the different contest areas and subject matter, helping students gain information and valuable feedback. Additionally, GreenStone is visible at many events, including county fairs and Project Rural Education Day (R.E.D.) activities, where they bring their mechanical cow, Darla, for students to milk.

“In Branch County at Rural Education Day, every single third grader gets to milk Darla,” said Erin Bosch, agriculture teacher at Jonesville High School who nominated GreenStone for the award. “This really teaches students about how hard it is for farmers to produce the food that students oftentimes take for granted.”

Further GreenStone support includes sponsorship of student trips to the Washington Leadership Conference, an educational booth at the Michigan FFA State Convention Agricultural Career Show, donation of dinnerware to various leadership camps, and serving as guest speakers in agriculture classes. Recently, the company was recognized for its contributions to the Michigan FFA Foundation at the 2010 National Agri-Marketing Association Conference where it received a first place merit award for the ‘License to Lead—Ag Heritage License Plate Promotion’ campaign. The campaign encouraged purchase of Michigan Agricultural Heritage license plates, of which a portion of the sales go back to the Michigan FFA Foundation.

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Region V
Mississippi FFA Alumni Association
Carthage, Mississippi

The Mississippi FFA Alumni Association has always been a strong supporter of Mississippi agricultural educators and FFA members and chapters. Every year, Alumni sponsors multiple awards at the Mississippi FFA State Convention.  Members also coordinate booths at the trade show and sell FFA items to raise money for the Donald Starnes Scholarship, which supports students pursuing a degree in agricultural education. Beyond the convention, Alumni sponsors a state FFA officer to attend the State President’s Conference in Washington, D.C., awards each state FFA officer with lifetime membership in the National FFA Alumni Association, and raises funds for their official dress jackets and chains.

The Mississippi FFA Alumni Association is a valuable partner of the Mississippi Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers (MAVAT). The two groups work together to host a legislative luncheon at the Mississippi State Capitol. They also co-sponsor college tuition for the Mississippi State FFA President during their term.

Over the years, the Mississippi FFA Alumni Association has been fortunate enough to be recognized for their ongoing support for agricultural education. In the last year alone, the organization was recognized as a silver emblem National FFA Alumni Chapter, won the scrapbook competition, and was awarded a $1,000 National FFA Alumni Chapter Grant. Over the past few years, members of the Mississippi FFA Alumni Association were recognized with the National FFA Alumni Distinguished Service Award, a high honor for any Alumni member. Additionally, the Mississippi FFA Alumni Association was proud to have executive director, Monte Ladner, serve as a past National FFA Alumni President.

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Region VI
Russell Redding
Secretary of Agriculture
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau

Russell Redding has had a passion for agricultural education nearly his entire life. Before he was the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, Redding was an agriculture student, FFA member, and Pennsylvania State FFA Officer. He later earned Bachelor and Masters’ Degrees in Agricultural and Extension Education, before serving as an agricultural educator in a secondary agriculture program. Since becoming the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, Redding has expanded support from the Pennsylvania state government and increased public awareness of agricultural education.

“Secretary Redding seems to be an educator in all walks of life and the agricultural community is so very fortunate to have him as their teacher, leader, and advocate,” said Dr. Janet A. Rapuano, Career Counselor in the Franklin Area School District in Franklin, Pa. “He has been a member of the agricultural community his whole life, and he is one of the most focused and driven advocates of agriculture that I have met.”

As the Secretary of Agriculture, Redding has played an active role in creating the first-ever report on Agricultural Education in Pennsylvania. This report shares the story of Pennsylvania’s 17,000 agriculture students with key government officials and Board of Education members. Additionally, Redding provides continued financial support to the Pennsylvania FFA Association, FFA Foundation and the Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators. He is an advocate for agricultural education, participating in the National Teach Ag Day, leading a number of National FFA Week events and providing his press office for the promotion of Pennsylvania FFA activities throughout the year. Secretary Redding is also a member of the Pennsylvania Rural-Urban Leadership Program (RULE), which is designed to provide community leaders with the skills and knowledge needed to overcome challenges created by the growing divide between rural and urban communities.

“Secretary Redding is a charter member of the RULE advisory board, the first to work with RULE in a non-alum status. He has been a talisman for tweaking the curriculum in favor of agricultural education, providing speaker contacts and suggestions that strengthen the agricultural dimension and expanding public policy impact,” said JD Dunbar, Chief Executive Officer of RULE. “We are enthusiastic that others outside of RULE have recognized Secretary Redding’s strength to impact agricultural education on a national level.”

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