Awards

Outstanding Teacher Awards

Enthusiastic, motivated, inspiring. these are just a few words that describe an Outstanding Teacher. The NAAE Outstanding Teacher Awards go to agriculture teachers that have kept a tradition of excellence in their program along with the inborn love for agriculture.

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Region I
Jessica Fernandes
Buena Park High School
Buena Park, CA

Fernandes has been the agriculture teacher at Buena Park High School since 2006.  She describes that at first glance agriculture seems non-existent in the community, but in fact, agricultural education programs are thriving throughout school district.  Of the 2,000 students who attend Buena Park High School, over 360 are enrolled in Fernandes’ program, requiring an additional agriculture teacher to be hired this past school year.  Since Fernandes’ hiring, she has obtained various grants to transformed the program and facilities and provide more opportunities for students.  The new facilities include a barn to house 100 market animals, a tractor and cart, exercise arenas, recovery pens for sick animals, a 350-tree orchard, a refurbished garden plot and poultry house, and additional animals such as market rabbits and chickens. She felt this transformation project would allow her students to connect with community members when working on the renovations and help re-build the program because they could gain insight to local agricultural businesses and careers.

“The Buena Park High School agricultural education program has greatly improved its academic rigor since being an elective program three years ago,” said Fernandes.  “The program has transitioned into a highly productive, comprehensive agriculture program ensuring every student maintains an SAE, experiences leadership opportunities and excels at academics.”

Because of the new facilities, Fernandes is now able to offer more courses, such as Agricultural Earth Science, Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Biology, Veterinary Science, Ornamental Horticulture, Nursery Landscape Design/ Greenhouse and the Art and History of Floral Design.  Also, while taking these courses students earn college credit that is transferrable at any university or junior college in California.  By providing more course offerings, Fernandes is not only capturing students’ career interests but also jump-starting their college careers.  Students in the Ornamental Horticulture pathway also gain eligibility for the California Association of Nursery and Garden Centers (CANGC) certification.  Inside the classroom, Fernandes has utilized grant funds to provide new computers and printers so all students can record their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects electronically.  Fernandes embraces her opportunity to provide valuable experiences for her students and is therefore motivated to obtain grants and make partnerships with agricultural companies to continue to enhance her newly academically challenging, comprehensive agriculture program.

“Mrs. Fernandes is a critical and integral component of the program’s success,” said Bill Camarillo, a partner of Fernandes’ Ornamental Horticulture pathway and CEO of Agromin.  “Her dedication to, and passion for, the program is evident in the program’s growth and a major reason I chose the program for a partnership opportunity.”

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Region II
Alice DuBois
Ponchatoula High School
Ponchatoula, Louisiana

DuBois has been an agriculture teacher for 20 years and is currently one of two agriculture teachers at Ponchatoula High School.  She believes all students have the right and ability to learn to become positive, contributing members of society.  Project-based learning is an integral part of each of her courses as it fosters higher order thinking, communication, and teamwork skills.  Last year DuBois’ students raised a kangaroo as part of the exotic species unit.  DuBois explains that all students, no matter their prior experience with livestock, were motivated to learn about reproduction, nutrition and the digestive systems of kangaroos and other ruminant animals.  DuBois provided a rare learning opportunity for students to experience, fostering deeper principles that motivate students to be open-minded.  She has also created an Agriscience Intern course where her junior and senior students can work in local agriculture-related businesses to become familiar with the skills necessary for those careers.  DuBois embraces the responsibility of making a positive difference in the lives of her students by providing an effective learning environment where students can develop themselves into the individuals they aspire to be.

"As I grow as a teacher, I truly realize the incredible opportunity I have to make a positive difference in my students’ lives,” said DuBois.  “I strive to do everything I can to become the most effective, motivating, and caring teacher that I can be.”

“Alice is a dedicated professional who is committed to helping her students achieve their highest potential in Agriscience,” said Danny Strickland, Principal of Ponchatoula High School.  “She has continually demonstrated her skill and energy in teaching and she is constantly searching for new and creative methods to present challenging learning experiences for her students.”

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Region III
Barbara Lemmer
Linn-Marr High School
Marion, IA

Lemmer has been teaching agriculture for 29 years.  She currently teaches 225 students at Linn-Mar High School, with 100 more students waiting to enroll in her courses.  Lemmer teaches courses in General Agriculture Science, Introduction to Veterinary Science, Veterinary Science, Botany, Greenhouse Management, Landscape Horticulture, Aquaculture Sciences, Animal and Plant Aquaculture, Wildlife Management, Agribusiness, and Agribusiness Sales and Marketing.  She believes her role as an agricultural educator is to provide a learning environment conducive to learning through individual and group interactions, in which students are intrinsically motivated to research and discover answers.  It is essential to Lemmer that her students understand agriculture, its relationship to current business, economic development, international trade, renewable energy, and the environment and the roles they play in it.  She also fosters lifelong learning by incorporating agricultural journals, magazines, the Internet, and other agricultural resources throughout current assignments.

Lemmer explains her classes are inquiry-based, allowing students to always learn through hands-on activities.  She aims to challenge her students to develop specific skills, such as synthesizing and evaluating information to solve complex problems in the agriculture industry.  With such high expectations, Lemmer utilizes current technological devices such as an Elmo to help students learn effectively and efficiently.  She also keeps her program curriculum updated in order to meet academic standards, industry competency requirements, and local workforce needs.  Students’ academic success is highly important to Lemmer and so she assesses students consistently often in order to meet the needs of all learners.

This past summer Lemmer enrolled in the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) Institute in Maryland.  She plans to implement the new curriculum this fall with 97 first-year students.  She also hopes to provide dual-credit, high school and college credit, to students who complete the online course assessment offered by CASE in the upcoming school years.

“I strive to encourage students to exercise innovation and creativity in making informed decisions,” said Lemmer.  “I balance both academic and work place skills with leadership skills to help students achieve their goals and value their health, socials skills, and self worth.”

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Region IV
Tim McDermott
Waterloo High School
Waterloo, IL

Tim Larrick

McDermott has been an agriculture teacher for six years and is currently one of two agriculture teachers at Waterloo High School (WHS). The community of Waterloo is grounded in production agriculture, however the number of residents that are tied to a production background is decreasing as new families move into the community.    This urbanization has pushed McDermott to reevaluate his curriculum for his 179 students.  When writing a lesson plan he follows a mixture of tradition and innovation.  Students are submerged in a world of learning that includes production concepts, horticulture, agriscience, biotechnology, and agricultural engineering.

McDermott sees education as a process that involves several components; teachers, students, parents, administration and the community.  His educational  process starts with a good student –teacher relationship, this allows learning to take place.  Parents and community must support their students and encourage them to do well in whatever avenue they choose.  In order for the educational process to be complete and fully functional, the administration needs to support the facility they have chosen to put on staff.

“Tim has worked diligently to increase and improve parental and community involvement in our schools, which will undoubtedly result in increased student achievement and improved community relations,” said James Helton, Superintendent of, Waterloo Schools.

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Region V
James "Courtney" Nichols
Cannon County High School
Readyvilly, TN

Douglas Latta

Nichols has been the agriculture teacher at Cannon County High School (CCHS) for six years.  During those six years, the school district felt it would be a good idea to create a new curriculum based on horticulture, to open students’ and the community’s mind about all the diverse opportunities that agriculture has to offer.  Previously, the only courses that CCHS offered were Agriculture I, II, III, IV and Agricultural Mechanics.  In order to create a new curriculum there also had to be a place to teach these new concepts, so the district funded the building of a 1,800 square foot greenhouse.  During the first year of the horticulture curriculum’s launch, the CCHS agriculture program saw an increase in student participation from 140 students to 289, and even better, the students produced a successful crop.  This high level of success in such a short period of time encouraged members of the school district to take a closer look at the infinite potential that this program truly has.  CCHS is now building 1,200 square foot hydroponic greenhouse, and a small tract of land has been allocated for the development of fruit trees and nursery stock.

“I teach my students in an environment in which they will be engaging in almost daily hands-on activities. The students can and will learn by doing; by practicing what they have learned due to these hands-on activities,” said Nichols.

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Region VI
Judith Ann Bruns
Milford High School
Milford, DE

Tara Berescik

Bruns has been one of the four agriculture teachers at Milford High School since 2004.  The Milford High School agriculture program offers five complete pathways to its 345 9th through 12th grade students.  These include animal science, greenhouse management, agricultural mechanics, agricultural structures, and environmental science.  Each of the five different pathways has three levels of courses, which offers students the opportunity to become as proficient as possible in one pathway area.  Last year Milford School District decided they wanted to offer an agriculture course to its 8th grade students, to help spark their interest and hopefully recruit new students into the agriculture program as they entered 9th grade.  This course, Introduction to Agriscience, is required for every 8th grade student during at least one semester before moving onto 9th grade.

Bruns is the main teacher for the pathway of animal science.  Her goal is to get students interested in the world of animal science, push them to think critically, question, and apply what they already know.  She makes sure to incorporate chemistry, biology, and government into her lessons.  Teaching animal science without an animal facility on site is a challenging.  Bruns must use hands-on activities that simulate what her students would be doing in a real life situation.  An example of a simulation that has worked well for her students is milking a cow.  She has students take latex gloves, fill them with stuffing, and poke holes into the bottom of the fingers to act as teats of the cow.  She then measures out a certain amount of water and pours it into the opening of the gloves and students must “milk” the water out of the fingers of the glove.

“She is a tireless individual with high standards and an outstanding work ethic who embodies the true spirit of an agriscience teacher,” said Keith Shane, neighboring High School Agriculture Teacher.

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