Nick Nelson

How Do You Award a Legend?

Blog Post created by Nick Nelson on Apr 5, 2017

This is an article from the April 2017 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.


Cowboy Logic: “Don’t go where the path may lead;

go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.”


Les Linegar was an ag teacher -- one the best I have ever seen! My earliest memories of Les was when I was a state FFA officer, and was leading a leadership camp in his district. In my yearning to motivate students, I had said some things that could be taken as less-than-satisfactory and Les let me know the errors of my ways. From that time on, I kind of tip-toed around Mr. Linegar, but when I finished my student-teaching and became an ag teacher, I found out that he was a tremendous mentor and an advocate for me.


Les had an outstanding program. It was well-rounded with equal parts of classroom, experiential learning, and leadership. Les was old-school, right down to his haircut.  He had an active advisory committee, a proactive FFA Alumni, and huge community support. When I started teaching, he was one of the "Old Dogs" that young teachers looked up to and admired, but he always did it quietly and in an unassuming way. Interesting enough Mr. Linegar would not ever apply for our state ag teacher awards. In fact, he won our OATA Outstanding Teacher Award one year, only because the other teachers in his district filled out the application for him. When it came time to send the application on to NAAE, I could not for the life of me convince Les to send it. He was humble and really didn't feel he deserved the recognition. Les Linegar retired last year after 30 plus years of teaching at Ontario High School, yet he and his wife Marie still went to NAAE conference, and he was actively supporting his replacement at our recent state FFA convention. Les will always go down in my mind as a legend. He has and continually will leave a trail.


I have always regretted not being able to get Les Linegar to send his application to NAAE, and I thought his story needed to be heard. What I failed to get Les to see is that the award was not just for him, it was to highlight his community and his program. These NAAE awards advocate for your program. They are not designed to strictly highlight you or your program's FFA accomplishments, but instead recognize those partnerships that our programs make in our communities. Administrators love to see programs in their schools be recognized, and for those who don't understand ag -- they will have a better understanding after you, your program, and your partners are recognized on a national level.


Ag teachers are humble folks -- who else would work the hours of a farmer and not want to be recognized for it?  I would recommend that in your district meetings once a year, you nominate the teachers, programs, and partners to fill out an application for your state awards. Many times teachers may be more willing to apply if they know they have the backing of their cohort. Also, keep in mind that each state's association is recognized for professional awards, and one of the easiest ways to have a "Distinguished" state organization is to have all the award areas filled.


This is a busy time of year for all of us, including the NAAE staff. Several things are coming down the pike and below is a list of dates and programs that our NAAE staff are working on:


  • CASE Institute Registration is Open
  • CASE to host #TeachAgChat on Thursday, April 20  Join CASE for #TeachAgChat on April 20 from 8-9pm eastern time. The discussion will focus on questioning in the agriscience classroom. For more information about #TeachAgChat, visit
  • National Teach Ag Ambassador Applications are open - Deadline April 10  Each year, the National Teach Ag Campaign selects 12 outstanding preservice agriculture teachers to represent us at the National FFA Convention, and throughout the year as ambassadors, promoting the profession and encouraging others to Teach Ag! Click this link to learn more and apply.
  • National Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award WILL be offered for 2017  When we released award applications a few weeks ago, funding for the National Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award had not been confirmed. We did receive funding confirmation for that award last week, so it will be offered for 2017. The application instruction, supporting information and required signature sheet are available at, and the online award form should be available in the next 24-48 hours.
  • All NAAE award applications are due May 15, except regional citations, which are to be turned in at each region’s conference.
  • Call for volunteers to judge NAAE Awards  All NAAE members are invited to volunteer to help select regional winners for 2017 NAAE awards. Volunteers will judge up to 10 award applications which will be sent to them using a file sharing program like Dropbox or Google Drive. Interested members should visit for complete details. Deadline to volunteer is May 12.
  • 2017 NAAE Convention  Registration and housing are open for the 2017 NAAE Convention, and NAAE is also accepting professional development workshop proposals through May 12. For all details about NAAE convention, visit
  • DEKALB Agricultural Accomplishment Award  DEKALB® is proud to announce that we will once again sponsor the DEKALB Agricultural Accomplishment Award. For 70 years, this award has been presented to agriculture students who exemplify scholarship, commitment and work ethic. To nominate a deserving student in your chapter, ag educators should visit between March 1 - May 1, 2017.
  • Bayer Offers Awards for Those Seeking to Help Protect & Promote Bee Pollinators  Bayer's Bee Care program recently announced three great opportunities for anyone who has been involved in protecting and promoting bee pollinators as well as for those interested in establishing pollinator forage. There’s a $1,000 Youth Bee Care Community Leadership Award, a $5,000 Bee Care Community Leadership Award, and grants for up to $5,000 to establish or restore pollinator forage. Click here to see how you can apply!


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