Agricultural teachers play a critical role in preparing future generations for successful careers. They devote countless hours and often their own resources to impact the communities they serve. To shed light on the contributions of outstanding ag teachers, Nationwide, the no. 1 writer of farms and ranches in the U.S.1, has honored 31 educators in five states as finalists for the Golden Owl Award®.
In coordination with partners in California, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Nationwide collected more than 1,300 nominations from students, fellow teachers, parents and community members to identify teachers who go above-and-beyond in preparing their students for successful careers in agriculture.
The 2019-2020 Golden Owl Award finalists are:
- Michael Campbell – Imperial High School, Imperial, CA
- Rosemary Cummings – Nipomo High School, Nipomo, CA
- Andree’ Earley – Las Plumas High School, Oroville, CA
- Cody Jacobsen – Golden Valley High School, Merced, CA
- Julie Luxon – Madera South High School, Madera, CA
- Alissa Sarvinski – Eureka High School, Eureka, CA
- Ed Curry (posthumous) – River Ridge High School, Hanover, IL
- Jody Heavner – Pittsfield High School, Pittsfield, IL
- Don Lockwood – Sullivan High School, Sullivan, IL
- Diana Loschen – Tri-Point High School, Cullom, IL
- Jennifer Timm – Cisne High School, Cisne, IL
- Dwayne Faidley – Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny, IA
- Eric Kumm – South O’Brien High School, Paullina, IA
- Jim Lundberg – Charles City High School, Charles City, IA
- Sarah Martin – Shenandoah High School, Shenandoah, IA
- Dawn Mausser – Beckman Catholic High School, Dyersville, IA
- Elsa Schmidt – Mid-Prairie High School, Wellman, IA
- Christi Bachman – Bloom Carroll High School, Carroll, OH
- Nathan Birkhimer – Fayetteville Perry High School, Fayetteville, OH
- Hannah Everetts – Edon Northwest School, Edon, OH
- Collin Gierke – Global Impact STEM Academy, Springfield, OH
- John Koenig – Miller City High School, Miller City, OH
- Sarah Lucha – South Central High School, Greenwich, OH
- Wendi Mizer Stachler – Miami Trace High School, Washington Court House, OH
- Tyler Pope – Buckeye Central High School, New Washington, OH
- Jeremy Ryan – West Muskingum High School, Zanesville, OH
- Erin Wollett – Cardington-Lincoln High School, Cardington, OH
- Mark Anderson – Elizabethtown High School, Elizabethtown, PA
- Kelly Bier – Shippensburg High School, Shippensburg, PA
- Renee Cambruzzi – McGuffey High School, Claysville, PA
- David Steinfelt – Athens High School, Athens, PA
Each finalist received an individualized plaque and $500 to help further future educational efforts before being entered into a final selection stage for the chance to be crowned as their state’s Ag Educator of the Year. In addition to the Ag Educator of the Year designation, the winning teacher in each state will also receive the coveted Golden Owl Award trophy and a $3,000 Nationwide-funded check to help fund their school’s agriculture program and future educational efforts.
“Nationwide created the Golden Owl Award in 2018 to bring attention to the growing need for agricultural teachers in this country,” said Nationwide’s president of agribusiness, Brad Liggett. “As a company with deep roots in agriculture, we’re proud to supply these hardworking teachers with additional resources and recognition to help boost their programs and provide students with an optimal learning experience.”
Nationwide recognized the contributions of 17 Iowa and Ohio agricultural teachers during the 2018-2019 inaugural Golden Owl Award. Following the inaugural Golden Owl Award, the Iowa Ag Educator of the Year saw a 30-student increase in his agricultural shop class.
As a result of the positive response from the communities that Golden Owl Award nominees make a difference in, Nationwide expanded the 2019-2020 Golden Owl Award to include California, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The 2019-2020 award has honored 31 outstanding ag educators across the five states.
Nationwide is also investing $5,000 in each participating state’s FFA organization to further support aspiring agriculture professionals.
The Golden Owl Award is the result of partnerships between Nationwide, California FFA, California Farm Bureau, Illinois FFA, Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers, Farm Credit Illinois, Compeer Financial, Iowa FFA Foundation, Ohio FFA, Ohio Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania FFA and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.