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.

All Outstanding Young Member Award pictures from 2012 NAAE Convention
(For news releases, see each individual's information on this page.)

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Region I
Jessica Grundy
Wayne High School
Bicknell, Utah

news release

Grundy has been the agriculture teacher at Wayne High School since 2009. She offers a wide variety of courses, including agricultural biology, natural resources, equine science, mechanics, plant and soil science, communications, and leadership. Grundy promotes teamwork, communication, and social interactions in her classroom. She encourages her students to step out of their comfort zones by trying out new ideas in the classroom, which she believes will increase their awareness of the global and technological importance of agriculture. She wants her students to "plant their roots and grow their future."

"I want to strengthen the confidence of agriculture students in themselves and their ability to work," said Grundy. "Once their roots are planted, there is no stopping their growth into the future."

Leadership and community service are two very important aspects of Grundy's program. Grundy collaborates with the local elementary schools in order to educate young students about agriculture, while providing her students with leadership opportunities. Her students host a petting zoo for elementary students to learn about animals and plants - they even get to create and market their own popcorn flavor. Her students also read Christmas stories to elementary school students and offer tutoring services to promote literacy within the county.

Grundy is continually seeking new ways to provide her students with a better classroom experience. She is currently earning her endorsement in biology and has been selected as the 504 coordinator for the special education department at Wayne High School. She is also an active member of NAAE.

"Education should encourage students to learn how to make connections between facts and activities, and give them the ability to use this process throughout life," said Grundy. "The more prepared I am to educate my students; the more my students will be able to achieve their highest potential. The more education and experience I have the better education I can provide for my students."

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Region II
Carmelita Goossen
Southwestern Heights High School
Kismet, Kansas

news release

Since coming to Southwestern Heights High School in 2006, Goossen has worked to rebuild the agriculture program. She has developed new curriculum that caters to the demographics of the school, where nearly 54 percent of the population is Hispanic. She also attended the DuPont National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy to develop inquiry-based teaching skills for her classroom. Since then, she has built her own curriculum in the areas of environmental science, plant science, animal science, and food science.

In order to accommodate the diverse student population at Southwestern Heights, Goossen has worked diligently to incorporate Hispanic culture into her classroom. In 2010, she wrote Hispanic integration curriculum through which her students experience a variety of cultures through food and explore the beef and meat science industries on various levels. Students also examine multicultural consumer research in order to analyze the development of products that target an ethnic market.

Teaching and learning is a cooperative effort between the teacher and students," said Goossen. "I use a variety of resources, technologies, and teaching styles to engage all of my students. Through routine reflection on the activity of my classroom I am able to learn from my students, just as they learn from me."

Goossen also emphasizes the importance of sustainable agriculture in her program. With new advancements in agriculture and technology focusing on alternative, efficient energy, Goossen gives her students the opportunity to explore the many opportunities available in sustainability. Her students create watersheds, soil profiles, and aquifers in order to learn about sustainability and water quality. They also compare ethanol and kerosene in order to analyze energy content and assess the environmental impact of fuels on our nation.

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Region III
Candice Olson
Badger High School
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

news release

Olson has been an agriculture teacher at Badger High School since 2008. Due to the decline of production agriculture in Lake Geneva, the agriculture program has taken a more contemporary approach to its curriculum. Courses now focus primarily on the science of agriculture, rather than production agriculture. Several courses now fulfill science credit requirements for graduation. The new approach to agriculture curriculum allows for a wide variety of courses within the program. Olson teaches several different courses including veterinary science, biotechnology, agriscience, environmental science, animal science, and aquaculture.

Olson encourages the development of problem-solving skills and higher-level thinking in her classroom. She focuses her lessons on the application of classroom lessons to her students' current and future lives. In agriscience and agology, an introductory course, her students raise and sell nearly 500 poinsettias in order to learn about plant growth, insect identification, pest eradication, and plant nutrition. Her students also conduct hydroponic research by raising vegetable crops and monitoring the electro-conductivity, nutrients, pH and growth levels of their crops.

"Candice is a bright teacher with a genuine desire to help students learn and achieve," said Robert Kopydlowski, principal at Badger High School. "Her determination and drive to help students is the quality that sets her apart from most."


Olson is active in many professional organizations. She is a member of the NAAE, the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators, the state and national divisions of the Association of Career and Technical Education, and the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Educators.

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Region IV
Sarah Heilers
Fort Loramie High School
Fort Loramie, Ohio

news release

Tim McDermott

Heilers currently teaches a variety of classes, including Animal Science and Technology, Business Management for Agricultural and Environmental Systems, and Plant Science. She gives her students opportunities to collaborate with peers and complete meaningful tasks. These kinds of activities enhance the learning experience for students and better prepares them for experiential learning outside of the classroom.

"Although livestock and crop production are valuable parts of the agricultural industry, other segments are equally important," said Heilers. "My goal in teaching agricultural education is to help students and the community gain an appreciation for the entire agriculture subject matter, increase the number of students entering agriculturally related career fields, and in the end give students the initiative to become lifelong learners."

Heilers' revamped her courses in 2010 to better fit the needs of students and the community. Since the courses were reworked, articulation agreements with four different colleges; Clark State Community College, Wright State University-Lake Campus, University of Northwestern Ohio, and Wilmington College, have been created that allow Fort Loramie students to gain college credit after successfully completing their agricultural courses.

The FFA chapter at Fort Loramie started an annual Building Partnerships breakfast during FFA week for community members, businesses, teachers and administrators. The breakfast is held during National FFA Week in February, and is a way for students and the community to connect about agriculture and FFA and possibly brainstorm ways to partner on community service projects.

"I have two children, Craig and Amy," said Rusty Eilerman, future parent of agriculture students. "As they get older and have the opportunity to take advantage of certain programs at Fort Loramie High School, I know that by them becoming a student of Sarah Heiler's, and joining FFA, they will be well prepared for their future endeavors, no matter what my children pursue."

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Region V
Jill Wagner
Newton County Career and Technical Center
Decatur, Mississippi

news release

Jason Chester

Wagner currently teaches the Agriculture and Environmental Science and Technology program at Newton County Career and Technical Center. Wagner's AEST program offers four classes: Concepts of Agriscience, Plant Science, Animal Science, and Environmental Science.

"I want students to understand agriculture as a whole so that when met with a challenge or problem from someone different then themselves, they have a clearer picture of the overall goal of agriculture," said Wagner.

Wagner uses active learning to enhance her students' understanding of concepts. Students frequently visit a local commercial beef farm to see the difference in genetics between pure and cross-bred cattle, and a dairy farm to see how silage is stored and how different crops are mixed to make feed for cows. In the greenhouse, students learn about asexual propagation of plants and the specific techniques to successfully breed them.

Wagner is an active member of the Mississippi Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers. She currently serves as the MAVAT Secretary and represents MAVAT on the Mississippi FFA Foundation Board. Wagner has also been working with a team of teachers from across the state to update curriculum and statewide assessment for the Concepts of Agriscience and Plant Science course.

"Jill Wagner is a difference maker in young people's lives," said Jerome and Deborah Freeman, parents of an agriculture student at Newton County Career and Technical Center. "She is a pure teacher who has our total faith and trust to guide our children."

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Region VI
E. Sherisa Nailor
Big Spring High School
Newville, Pennsylvania

news release

Susan Sanger

Nailor currently teaches agricultural sciences and agricultural mechanics in a two-teacher program at Big Spring High School. In her six years of teaching, Nailor and her co-teacher reach more than 350 students per school year through their course offerings.

Two years ago Nailor's students applied for and were awarded a Living to Serve grant from the National FFA and United States Department of Agriculture. The grant was used to develop and execute an agricultural literacy program for local middle and elementary school students. High school students taught younger students about agricultural topics using the Food for America model, to help students know where their food comes from and make the connection between their food and the farm.

During Nailor's tenure at Big Spring, she has introduced four new semester-long courses to the school, including Basic FFA Leadership, Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and Honors Animal and Veterinary Science. She also teaches an Introduction to Agribusiness course, which is a dual enrollment course, so students in this class are enrolled at both Big Springs High School and the Harrisburg Area Community College. Nailor also received a grant to assist Harrisburg Area Community College in creating a Learning Focused format, which has helped her develop teacher professional development for her ag. business curriculum so other Pennsylvania agriculture teachers are able to learn how to teach it in their own programs.

"Ms. Nailor has done a tremendous job of writing new curriculum. She has been able to accomplish this feat while respecting the fine moral and cultural values that have existed in our communities for generations of dairy farms. Ms. Nailor not only respects those values, but she insists that our students honor those values while preparing for the challenges of 21st century agriculture," said Richard W. Fry, Superintendent of Schools, Big Spring School District.

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