NAAE awards the Lifetime Achievement Award to individuals who have contributed to the advancement of agricultural education on a regional or national level.
Duane Watkins has been an active part of Wyoming agricultural education for the past 47 years. For 23 of those years he taught high school agriculture and had numerous national winning Career Development Event teams and Proficiency winners. To Mr. Watkins, one of the greatest honors he has had as an educator is watching his former students and student teachers go on to have highly successful teaching and administrative careers.
Mr. Watkins has also served the Wyoming Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association as State President and National Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association as Region I Vice-President Alternate, Region I Vice-President, and National President. In 1992, he was inducted into the Wyoming Vocational Association Hall of Fame. Though he has been retired from teaching for nearly 20 years, Mr. Watkins spends his time advocating for agricultural education.
For the past 25 years, Richard has been extensively involved in Louisiana agricultural education as not only a teacher but an agricultural advocate. Richard taught agricultural education for 23 years at Marrow High School, Grand Prairie High School, St. Landry Parish High School, Washington High School, and North Central High School. North Central high School was a three teacher program and Richard worked there until 1997, when he was appointed principal of Grand Prairie Elementary. He remained there until his transfer to Creswell Elementary in 2008, where he is still serving as principal today.
Throughout Richard’s extensive career he has coached many successful teams, advised area officer teams, and had a national winning soils team. Although now a principal, Richard continues to promote agricultural education as a member of the Louisiana Association of Principals (LAP) by serving on the committee that determines the future of agricultural education in Louisiana.
Richard was was an active member of the Louisiana Agriculture Teachers Association (LATA) and National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) from 1977-2000. He was also active in his local agriculture teachers’ association in the St. Landry Parish School District, serving as President on four different occasions, and is still a member of the board. Currently, he is very active with the Louisiana’s Master Horseman and Master Junior Horseman programs, in which his children and grandchildren are involved.
To his colleagues, Nattress is known as Mr. FFA. He give himself this title - it was his involvement in the agricultural education profession for over 50 years that caused people to start calling him by the nickname. Nattress was an agriculture teacher for 19 years at the Palmer and Buffalo Center School Districts. Then he was the Iowa State Agricultural Education Supervisor/FFA Advisor, finally ending up as the Founder and Executive Director of the Iowa FFA Foundation, where he has served for the past 25 years. With his retirement in 2010, comes a changing of the guard for agricultural education and the FFA in Iowa.
Nattress saw FFA grow up into the national organization that it is today. He saw women in 1969 be allowed into the FFA - “That was the number one most important change that ever happened in the FFA,” he said. He also saw the curriculum evolve over time to not only educate and train young farm boys to return to the farm, but to develop the leaders of tomorrow within this industry and beyond. Even while Nattress was witnessing major changes within national FFA, he was the catalyst for change in FFA in Iowa. He established the Iowa FFA Foundation in 1986, which now raises over $450,000 annually to support agricultural education. He also developed, and was there for each step of the construction of the Iowa FFA enrichment Center in Ankeny, Iowa. The facility is located on the campus of Des Moines Area Community College and was unveiled in 2010 after many years of planning and fundraising.
“For thousands of blue-jacketed FFA members who have packed into busses and spoken at state annual meetings over the years, Nattress will always be a name that comes to mind any time they think of the FFA,” said Craig McEnany, representative of the Iowa Association of Agricultural Educators (IAAE).
Bellis is the Director of Student Services and Public Affairs in Agriculture at Missouri State University. Prior to this position he taught high school agriculture for seven years and then served as the District Supervisor for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Agricultural Education Section, for over 24 years. In that time, he supervised more than 100 agricultural education programs. Eighteen new agricultural education programs were built and 42 new agriculture teaching positions were added in the southwest Missouri region during his tenure as District Supervisor. Bellis also serves as the Superintendent for the Career Development Event (CDE) public speaking contest.
Bellis’ passion for agricultural education has motivated him to continue his involvement in agricultural education at the postsecondary level by working to prepare pre-service agriculture teachers. Bellis’ accomplishments in agricultural education are evident through his many awards and honors, such as the Honorary American and State FFA Degrees. For more than 34 years, he has been a part of agricultural education organizations such as the Missouri Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association (MVATA), National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE), Missouri Association for Career and Technical Education (MoACTE), and Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) to maintain involvement in a field he feels help young people succeed.
Philpot has been an agriculture teacher at Williston High School for 37 years. Prior to teaching agriculture he served in Vietnam and once returned home began his teaching career by teaching veterans but quickly transitioned to high school agriculture. Throughout his teaching career, Philpot has taught approximately 3,700 students, of whom 125 earned State FFA Degrees, 10 earned American FFA Degrees, and seven served as state FFA officers. Philpot’s philosophy is that students’ engagement and personal success is always most important.
Philpot not only helped build the outstanding agriculture program at Williston High School, but was also instrumental in the development of the Agriscience Leadership Program sponsored by the Florida Departments of Agriculture and Education. This program works to develop agriscience teachers and administrators in order to improve agriculture programs. With such dedication to enhancing agricultural education, Philpot has received countless esteemed awards and honors, such as the Carl Obrien Humanitarian Award in 2006 by the Florida Association of Career and Technical Educators, for extensive involvement in agricultural education and in service engagements. Philpot now serves on Levy County School Board and works to ensure all students are afforded a most rewarding education.
“Do what you love; Love what you do epitomizes Robert Philpot,” said Chris Wilder, Philpot’s fellow agriculture teacher at Williston High School. “Mr. Philpot truly loved what he did; did what he loved; Mr. Philpot taught agriculture.”
For the past 35 years, Ransom has been extensively involved in New York agricultural education as not only a teacher but an agricultural advocate. It is Ransom’s mission to serve agriculture students through school-based agricultural education programs and affiliated organizations. Ransom retired from teaching in Greenville, N.Y. in 1990 but continued his service to agricultural education through the New York State Association of Career and Technical Education (NYSACTE) and the New York State Fair Association. Through service in these types of organizations, Ransom felt he was able to promote agricultural education programs and the FFA. Ransom believes that every teacher has a voice and learns how to use it when actively involved in professional organizations such as the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE).
It was essential to Ransom that someone be the voice for New York state agricultural education programs to ensure monies for their programs. His passion for agricultural education easily motivated him to lobby on behalf of programs across the state. In 2005, a plan to build an FFA area at the New York State Fairgrounds to help educate the public on the benefits of the FFA was implemented because of Ransom’s effective efforts in legislative visits. Ransom has even worked with the New York State FFA Foundation to provide funds for FFA members to attend conferences, sponsor Career Development Events (CDEs), and help start new school-based agricultural education programs. With such support from state legislators, Ransom works to connect students to their supporters, linking local programs to their state government.
Ransom has received countless awards and honors for his dedication to agricultural education, including nearly every award afforded by the New York Association of Agricultural Educators (NYAAE). He has also been recognized with the Honorary State and American FFA Degrees.