"And the winner is....!" I'm sure all of you have heard that phrase before and in some cases you are the winner and other times it is someone else. I know that as Agricultural Educators we do not focus on being personally recognized for our teaching, programs or service to our students. We do however, promote our students and FFA members to ensure they are recognized for their success in their SAE programs, speaking skills, career knowledge and their leadership. Most of us succeed through our students; if they are being acknowledged that is all we need to feel fulfilled. I know my proudest moments have been standing on stage next to one of my National Proficiency winners, a state officer candidate or a creed speaker at a sectional speaking contest. I can hear it now, "I don't need an award plaque or trophy to put on my shelf to tell me I am doing my job and doing it well." And here it comes.... "BUT" being nominated for an award or competing in an award area provides an opportunity for you to take stock of what you have accomplished with your students and in your program. Taking part in the NAAE award areas makes your success and your program public to your peers. It promotes Agricultural Education beyond your classroom to a wider audience other than your hometown. Sharing your success, your innovation, and your educational philosophy exposes a number of other teachers to ideas and motivates them to try and achieve the level of success you have accomplished. The first time I was nominated for an award I completed the application and submitted it thinking there was no way I could compete with the other teachers that I was up against. But the tough competition and the achievements those other teachers had listed in their accolades only made me want to become an even better teacher. I dug deeper and worked harder to provide an even better experience for the students in my program.
I was named Wisconsin's Agricultural Education teacher of the year in 2005. It was one award I was truly proud of as my colleagues recognized me as a worthy teacher to apply for the award and then selected me to represent Wisconsin as their top Agricultural Educator. Once it was announced I had several of my peers approach me to congratulate me, but also to learn from me. I was asked to share my curriculum and lessons. I have presented many workshops since then sharing activities and some of my innovative lessons I use in my classroom. It was an honor to be recognized, but even more important for me, to be able to help my fellow ag teachers by sharing my ideas. I have continued to share ideas and present workshops and I am currently putting together an online resource for new ag teachers to help them get a head start in developing their lessons and curriculum. The best part of being a member of the agricultural education family is that we share. So when you are nominated for an award look beyond the personal recognition and the lack of time you have to complete the application and look toward the opportunity you have to help you Ag Ed family. I would compare it to having a birthday, you aren't too happy about getting another year older, but everyone wants to help you celebrate anyway. The same is true for our NAAE awards everyone wants to help you celebrate the success you have brought to your program and your students so take the time to fill out the award online and let us Celebrate Agricultural Education!
Congratulations to each of our state winners and I am encouraging each of you to complete the online application process so that we can celebrate your success. I know Region III will have a number of members present in Las Vegas to help recognize your accomplishments. The online awards can be found at: http://www.naae.org/resources/awards/index.cfm
Make sure you check out the NAAE website for updates and new videos Julie has released!
Mark your calendars for the Region III conference to be held in St. Cloud, MN, June 21-23!