Outstanding Young Member Awards

Young members of any organization are the seeds from which the organization grows. One way that the NAAE recognizes new young members is to award them on their successes in the classroom.

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Region I
Rebecca Wallace
Ridgeline Middle School
Yelm, WA

Wallace currently teaches seventh grade Environmental Resource Science and ninth grade Natural Resource Science in a four-teacher program at Yelm Community Schools. While her program serves over 60 percent of the school’s 1,750-student population, Wallace believes it is essential that she meet every student’s academic needs.

“I believe it is necessary to exceed standards to provide innovative, industry-based educational courses that provide all of our students with rigorous academic work, which meets state standards as well as real world employability and leadership skills,” said Wallace.

Wallace was the only Washington recipient of the Progressive Agricultural Safety Day Grant, which provides funds for a school-wide safety program in conjunction with the Thurston County’s Perceptions of Behavior and Social Norms assembly.  FFA and community members provided 24 workshops that focused on topics such as proper hand washing and alcohol/ drug use prevention, to 606 seventh- through ninth-grade students.  Wallace is also highly involved in raising awareness for agricultural literacy in local schools.  Her students collaborated with local fourth grade teachers to integrate history and agriculture through interactive activities in an apple education project to educate and excite fourth graders about agriculture.  Wallace took this further when her students created an essay contest for the fourth graders to practice writing and meet state standards.  A parent who was impressed by Wallace’s efforts to promote agricultural literacy now annually funds this project.

"I am constantly impressed by her passion for her instructional content and her commitment to inspire students to find their passion,” said Teri Pablo, Career and Technical Education Director at Yelm Community School.  “She has clear and high standards for students but more importantly for herself.”

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Region II
Lindsey Huseman
Wilson Junior/ Senior High School
Wilson, Kansas

Huseman is the agriculture teacher at Wilson High School, which has 52 students in grades nine-12, 43 of whom are enrolled in agriculture courses.  Huseman was hired to revive the agriculture education program at Wilson High School in 2006 and start a new program at Quivira Heights High School at the same time.  She not only managed to kick-start both programs but also motivated more students to enroll in courses, causing both programs to grow.  Because of Wilson’s success, the board of education hired another full-time agriculture teacher at Quivira Heights High School, allowing Huseman to stay full-time at Wilson.  With growth in the Wilson High School program also came growth in the FFA chapter.

“This fall, the chapter boasted a roll of 34 members, which is over 65 percent of our small, 1-A high school,” said Huseman.

Huseman empowers her students by transforming them into effective learners.  She understands her role as teacher and therefore works to provide lessons of the highest quality to her students.  Huseman attends professional development workshops to learn how to enhance current curriculum and add new courses to her program.  It is her mission to add as much interactivity as possible to her lessons.  Students use learning journals to record various notes or questions with specific colored pencils during the lesson and then have it stamped afterward as a participation grade.  This consistent assessment is just one of the ways Huseman keeps her students engaged during lecture and motivated to learn.

“Lindsey is a gifted teacher who has an excellent rapport with her students,” said Brian Smith, Principal of Wilson School Principal.  “As I have watched her grow over the past several years, Lindsey has matured into a teacher that can motivate and encourage her students."

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Region III
Gwen Boettcher
DeForest High School
DeForest, WI

Boettcher has been one of two agriculture teachers at DeForest High School since 2005.  She teaches courses in animal science, agri-business management and horticulture and also manages the program’s cooperative internship program.  Boettcher’s teaching philosophy includes creating a classroom environment where students are inspired to learn and build productive, diverse futures.  Boettcher believes that by continuing to educate herself through professional development workshops, updating her curriculum to match the dynamic field of agriculture, and connecting with the local community through service projects, she accomplishes her teaching philosophy.

“Learning can take place anywhere, learning styles are vital to understand, the students’ futures should always be part of the lesson, and the community can provide some of the best lessons,” said Boettcher.  “With these classroom themes I feel I will find great success with students and my program numbers also reflect this.”

A unique feature of Boettcher’s program is the inquiry-based curriculum she developed that interweaves science and agriculture state standards.  Her master’s project was focused on inquiry education where she found that inquiry-based education to be more effective than standard directional teaching, especially for 21st Century skills.  Boettcher’s curriculum’s success was based on the abilities of all students to complete research projects and conduct peer reviews with final symposiums with their classmates.  She attributes her students’ success in research pursuits to the nearby University of Wisconsin, whose research branch collaborates with her program often.

“Her knowledge, experience and marketing talents have been shared throughout Wisconsin with teachers and people from all interests,” said Jeff Hicken, Wisconsin Agriculture and Natural Resources Education Consultant and State FFA Advisor.  “Gwen’s tireless thinking “outside the box” methods have contributed to a number of new ideas for Wisconsin Agricultural Education."

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Region IV
Jesse Faber
Pontiac Township High School
Pontiac, IL

Tim McDermott

Faber is one of the two agriculture teachers at Pontiac High School, which has 810 students in grades 9-12, 220 of whom are enrolled in Faber’s agriculture courses.  Faber was hired to revive the agriculture education program at Pontiac High School in 2007.  Thiswas the first time in 15 years that Pontiac High School had an agriculture program.  He not only managed to successfully regenerate this program but also motivated more students to enroll in his courses.  Faber has a production background but his curriculum has a strong focus on science.    He teaches 11 different courses, and names his Renewable Energy course as his favorite and most rigorous thus far.  This course includes methods of physics and chemistry to better understand the conversion process of renewable energy.

Faber views his position with the Pontiac Township High School Agriculture Department as a great responsibility and challenge.  To help meet this challenge he has set three goals for himself - engage students daily, increase agricultural awareness, and maintain a high level of student retention.  To help focus on these goals Faber promotes student based activities, labs, community involvement and field experiences.

“Jesse has taught various agriculture classes and has introduced two brand new classes into the curriculum,” said Tera Graves, Administrator of Pontiac Township High School.  “This speaks volumes about the quality and quantity of the work that Jesse has done for this program and community.

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Region V
Meghan Wood
Aiken High School
Aiken, SC

Jason Chester

Throughout her five years of teaching, Wood has held to one philosophy; “To be an effective teacher within the classroom, one should be involved outside the classroom.  It is through the community that the teacher learns how to educate the whole student.”

Wood is continually working to create and improve opportunities for her students.  She has developed a curriculum based on plant science, with a focus on horticulture.  This strong horticulture emphasis is due to the large nursery and greenhouse industry that surrounds the community of Aiken.   Students can choose from Horticulture for the Workplace I, Horticulture for the Workplace II, and Nursery Landscape Technology.  Through these courses students gain the practical skills and learn the financial aspects of running a horticulture business.

The agriculture program’s FFA chapter has earned the three-star gold emblem chapter award the past three years for their community service.  Vegetables grown in the program’s greenhouse are donated to the Golden Harvest Food Bank, providing local lower income families with fresh fruits and vegetables they might not otherwise be able to afford.

“Meghan has done an outstanding job in establishing a very well rounded program at her school,” said Stephen E. Sanderson, S.C. State Director of Agricultural Education.  “As a result, she has built up a strong enrollment of students and produced some outstanding graduates.”

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Region VI
Bethany Royer
Killingly High School
Killingly, CT

Currently in her fourth year of teaching at Killingly High School, Royer has proven that a young teacher can make a large impact.  The Killingly Agriculture Education Program (KAEP) educates students from twelve surrounding towns, with a current total enrollment of 113.  During their freshmen year students rotate through five course areas; FFA, Plant Science, Aquaculture/Natural Resources, Animal Science, and Ag Mechanics.  Upon completion of their freshmen year, students must decide in which area they wish to major for the remainder of their time at KAEP.

Royer’s area of specialty is plant science.  Here her students are offered the opportunity of receiving AP credit, as well as taking part in the Early College Experience Program (ECE), pending completion of KAEP with a passing grade.  ECE allows students to potentially earn eight college credits prior to their high school graduation.  “ECE course curriculum is intense, and students gain a lot of knowledge, not only in the content being taught, but also on how college courses are instructed, graded, and managed,” said Royer.  She utilizes KAEP’s four greenhouses and twenty-five acre land lab during the 90-minute periods each day to help create a rigorous learning experience.

“It is evident that Ms. Royer was well prepared in ag ed teacher training as she is exceptionally proficient in providing her students with an educational experience that is both rigorous and relevant.  She uses a vast array of teaching strategies that meets the needs of the diverse student population in her classes,” said Michael R. Devin, Assistant Principal, Killingly High School.

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