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For Adam Wehling, agriculture teacher at Mondovi High School in Mondovi, Wisc., every day starts and ends with his philosophy; "Always lead by example with energy and passion while empowering students to believe in themselves."


It's this unwavering positivity that has led Wehling to success as an agricultural educator since he began teaching in 2003 at Evansville High School, in Evansville, Wisc. After a few years at Evansville, Wehling moved to Mondovi High School in the fall of 2007, and is still teaching there today. His first goal at MHS was to create an updated curriculum focusing on the science in agriculture, and develop SAE programs for interested students to enhance personal and professional career skills. Thanks to his efforts, Wehling's program now reaches more than 300 of his school's 530-member student body, with 70 active FFA members.


Completing his master of science in agricultural education in 2009 gave Wehling new perspectives to help develop his rapidly growing program. For instance, he has formed an advisory board comprised of industry professionals and community leaders that provides input and ideas for field trips, guest speakers, and helps Wehling gauge the effectiveness of his curriculum.


That connection to industry and community is key for Wehling, who believes that helping his students develop career skills through hands-on instruction is critical.


"I want the students to focus on developing skills for their future career," Wehling said. "Career connections and skills are what bridge the kids into life after school."


Wehling also coordinates co-ops for about 25 of his agriculture students each semester, a program that allows them to work with area agri-businesses during school hours. In total, he supervises 150 students who participate in agricultural education experiences outside the classroom in addition to in-school activities. This hands-on experience is what sets Wehling's students apart from others by showing they have skills and knowledge for the real world. Wehling also brings in guest speakers to his classes regularly, so students can see how hard work pays off for successful individuals.


Increasing growth in his programs, encouraging student involvement, and enhancing student learning are just a few reasons why Wehling is an outstanding agriculture teacher. Not only does he foster student learning, but he truly believes in learning by doing. He finds that serving not only as a teacher, but also as a mentor to his students is truly rewarding.


"Positive energy builds a positive environment. I want my students to be able to have the same outlook and optimism I have," he said.


Wehling was selected as the 2012 Region III Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher. That award program is sponsored by Toyota as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. For more information about all NAAE award programs, visit http://www.naae.org/awards/applications/.


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