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 2013 NAAE Convention
(For news releases, see each individual's information on this page.)

Region I Joshua Perkins, MT
Region II Tonya Brown, KS
Region III Craig Kohn, WI
Region IV Lindsey Davie, KY
Region V Blake Berry, SC
Region VI Jennifer Cushman, CT

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Region I
Joshua Perkins
Belgrade High School
Belgrade, Montana

news release

Perkins was the agriculture teacher at Stevensville High School in Stevensville, Mont., from 2008-2012, and has been the agriculture teacher at Belgrade High School since 2012. At Belgrade he offers a wide variety of courses, including — new course in small engines. Perkins encourages his students to tailor their education to meet their own needs and interests, and provides them with a rigorous experience that integrates agricultural technology and agricultural careers through travel and networking opportunities. He wants his students to find their niche in life and to understand that education is a never ending thing.

"Academics play an integral role in a student's education; however it is important for students to build upon their academic skills and explore other areas of interest and talents," said Perkins. "As a public educator I feel that it is my role to teach my students how to apply their skills to become well rounded individuals and help them find their true passions in life."

Experiential learning and community involvement are two very important aspects of Perkins's program. He collaborates with local agribusinesses to create supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs), which are long-term work or entrepreneurial student projects, establishing opportunities for his students to gain skills, knowledge, and experience that they can apply later. Some examples of his students turning their SAE's into successful opportunities after high school include a horticulture student becoming a team leader in a lavender farm for nearby Bitterroot Nursery, and another student taking his shop milling experience from Perkins' program to secure a position milling ammunition molds for Bitterroot Valley Ammunition Co.

Perkins also teaches his students how to network and market themselves and the agriculture program. While teaching at Stevensville High School, Perkins and his students hosted an informative program with administrators from five area schools that did not have agriculture programs, inviting community supporters, state FFA officers, and state FFA staff. Perkins and his students showcased their program and explained the importance of FFA and agricultural education experiences. Two years after Perkins held this program, two of the five schools established their own agricultural education programs, and his students partnered with those help them get off the ground.

"It is very important to become actively involved in our professional organizations at the state, regional and national levels," said Perkins, explaining that the resources attained from these organizations are vital to keeping his program current. "I want my students to be ready to enter the workforce or higher education with the knowledge and skills related to the latest technologies and industries' needs."

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Region II
Tonya Brown
Field Kindley High School
Coffeyville, Kansas

news release

Brown has been the agriculture teacher at Field Kindley High School since 2009. She uses a variety of hands-on labs, group projects, and question-based research to reinforce core lessons. She also tailors her instruction to each student, by incorporating support techniques specific to their needs and interests.

"Providing a safe, structured and supportive learning experience is essential to educational success," said Brown. "Every day it is my duty to provide positive experiences that challenge all students to step outside their comfort zone."

Along with her co-teacher, Brown offers a wide variety of courses within three pathways she designed for the program: agriscience, plant science, and power and technology. Each of the three pathways has its own advisory committee of community members who help create a well-rounded curriculum that meets industry standards. Lessons within each pathway are scaffolded, each building on the previous to help students achieve a high level of competency in that area.

For instance, in the agriscience pathway students learn about the strengths and weaknesses of various cattle breeds in their agriscience class, then transfer that knowledge to their animal science class, where they select their ideal purebred herd of cattle and explain their choice through a written report and presentation. Finally when the students reach her agricultural communications class they develop a breed association campaign, complete with a commercial and magazine article.

Brown is continually seeking new ways to provide her students with a better classroom experience. An active member of several professional organizations, including NAAE and Kansas Association of Agricultural Educators (KAAE), earning the OYM award and attending the NAAE conference is another step in Brown's diverse professional development path.

"By taking the opportunities presented to me, I have developed a group of experiences that will enhance my teaching, my student organizations, and my total school performance," said Brown, explaining how her variety of professional development experiences allows her to be a better rounded teacher for her students. 'Education should connect with students' lives in the past, present and future.

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Region III
Craig Kohn
Waterford Union High School
Waterford, Wisconsin

news release

Kohn has been the agriculture teacher at Waterford Union High School since 2008. Once a failing program on the brink of being eliminated, Kohn doubled enrollment within his first three years, causing Waterford to hire a second agriculture teacher to meet the new demand. His program offers a wide variety of courses, emphasizing challenging upper-level sciences relating to agriscience, veterinary, and medical science. Kohn has a close relationship with the science department, with two of his courses certified as science elective credit and more co-credit courses in the process of being developed. He has a diverse set of facilities at his disposal, including a greenhouse, livestock facility, research field and laboratory, and an environmental center.

"Classrooms and instructors should prepare students to use their knowledge to solve problems and improve society," said Kohn. "As long as there is a need for strong leaders who can use their knowledge and skills to improve the world, there will be a need for FFA members and advisors."

Resembling a college atmosphere, Kohn's program uses inquiry-based learning, as his students formulate and test hypotheses about real word scenarios in the agriculture industry, with topics ranging from bioenergy to engine mechanics. Kohn's program has 12 specialized courses, each pairing rigorous scientific coursework with the technical skills needed in industry. Partnering with agricultural organizations/departments locally, state-wide, and nationally, Kohn provides opportunities for his students to network with industry professionals to gain hands-on experience that they then apply to their own agriscience projects. Opportunities include students collecting rumen microbial samples from UW-Madison cows to conduct microbiology research, student-led meat quality discussions with Oscar Meyer product testers, and students learning veterinary skills such as performing pet physical exams.

Kohn continually furthers his own education, not only for himself but also his students and fellow educators. In addition to his position as an agricultural educator, Kohn acts as a consultant, curriculum writer, researcher, presenter and more, partnering with many industry, education and trade groups locally, state-wide, and nationally. Kohn shares his curriculum and knowledge freely, including publishing his curriculum on the school website, posting educational YouTube videos, collaborating on TED-Ed, and sharing via social media, such as Twitter. In addition, Kohn is very active in NAAE and other educational organizations, and has hosted several workshops and presentations.

"His passion for agriculture, challenging curriculum, and desire to individually grow and help those around him grow, students as well as professional educators, are what make Craig a true professional," said Richard Henningfeld, agricultural educator at Big Foot High School. "Craig is an advocate for agricultural education. His passionate nature to prepare students to be successful in our industry is admirable. Craig Kohn is an outstanding representative of young agricultural educators."

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Region IV
lindsey Davie
Henry County High School
New Castle, Kentucky

news release

Tim McDermott Davie has been the agriculture teacher at Henry County High School since 2008. Her teaching philosophy and her ability to connect with students comes from her background in international study and service in Mexico, the Philippines and Haiti as well as in the United States. Davie describes her room as neat, friendly and an engaging environment for all of her students. She has very high expectations for all her students and works to challenge each student every day. She uses numerous hands on-activities that assist students in accomplishing their education goals within the framework of her rigorous curriculum.

She prefers to put the responsibility for education into her students own hands, trying to engage them in a subject and encouraging them to find their own questions and answers. "If I can teach a subject without direct instruction, I make it my goal," Davie said.

Agricultural literacy is an important aspect of Davie's program. Her students host many events, such as their "Farm to Fork" and "Animals for Learning" programs, giving them opportunities to teach young students about where their food comes from and lets them interact with live animals — always a popular event.

Davie said her teaching has vastly improved through recent years because of professional development, including National Board Certification and CASE Certification. She is also an active member of NAAE, which provides her with additional opportunities. She enjoys helping others improve their teaching as well through mentorship and lesson plan sharing. "Whatever I can do to help, I am happy to," Davie said.

"We need to work together and support each other to make sure we can all stick it out and do a great job at the world's greatest profession."

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Region V
Blake Berry
Pendleton High School
Anderson, South Carolina

news release

Jason Chester Berry has been the agriculture teacher at Pendleton High School since 2009, where community service is an important aspect of his program. The Pendleton FFA chapter hosts an annual Farm City Day which provides opportunities for the public to learn about different agricultural equipment and enjoy food from the farm. His FFA chapter also holds canned food and clothing drives and is currently planning a campaign to raise funds to buy fans for those in need during the summer. The most effective way the chapter reaches the community, however, is through the FFA Sustainable Farm. On this farm, Pendleton FFA members use knowledge gained in the classroom to grow various items of produce they either sell or donate. The chapter sells the produce to raise funds, but also donates a lot of the harvest to the local Supper On Us Pendleton program.

Berry uses the relationships he has built with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Bureau and Cooperative Extension Service to help him with specific classes. He also attends professional development workshops throughout the year which help him gain skills for use in the classroom. Berry enjoys giving back by helping other teachers by giving workshops at various conventions such as the NAAE convention.

"Mr. Berry is one of the most dedicated instructors that I have had the privilege of working with in almost 18 years in public education," said Brian Couch, Pendleton High School principal. "He always has his students' best interest in mind."

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Region VI
Jennifer Cushman
Glastonbury High School Regional Agriscience and Technology Center
Glastonbury, Connecticut

news release

Susan Sanger Cushman has been the agriculture teacher at Glastonbury since 2008. Along with her co-teachers, she offers instruction in animal science, natural resources, plant science and related mechanics. Prior to her arrival at Greenville, no written curriculum existed. In her time at GHS, she has written curriculum maps for 12 courses, which include guest speakers, updated industry content, career experiences and hands-on activities.

Community service and agricultural literacy are important aspects of Cushman's program. They have partnered with the local Key Club and Club Council to package over 51,000 meals for Kids Against Hunger and have also helped with the Connecticut Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' adoption event. Cushman also organizes Pre-K through seventh grade visits to the GHS center so students can learn about agriculture topics including animals, bees, plants and machinery.

"My goal is to prepare students to strive towards attaining their future goals so that they will become contributing members in our school and communities," Cushman said.

Cushman understands the importance of staying abreast of the ever-changing agricultural industry. She currently serves as president of the Connecticut Association of Agricultural Educators and attends professional development workshops put on by the NAAE and others. She is a Connecticut Teacher Education and Mentoring participant, through which she serves as a mentor to beginning teachers. Annually, she gives presentations to pre-service teachers regarding current practices in the field.

"The ever-changing field of agricultural education requires a commitment to professional development," Cushman said.

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