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Nationwide honors seven top agricultural teachers, opens search for 2021-2022 Ag Educators of the Year

The Golden Owl Award® recognizes the nation’s extraordinary agricultural teachers

Columbus, OH – Agricultural educators serve a critical role in preparing future generations for success. They also devote immeasurable time, and often their own resources, to help students pursue their passions. To honor their efforts, Nationwide, in collaboration with state partners, named seven exceptional teachers as their state’s 2020-2021 Ag Educator of the Year through the Golden Owl Award.

As the no. 1 insurer of farms and ranches in the U.S.1, Nationwide established the Golden Owl Award to honor the contributions of teachers and support them with additional resources to assist their continued educational efforts.

The insurer recently recognized the exceptional efforts of 51 agricultural teachers across seven states as finalists for the 2020-2021 Golden Owl Award®. In addition to the Ag Educator of the Year title, each grand prize award winner will receive $3,000 in funding to help bring new opportunities to their programs and students2.

The 2020-21 Ag Educators of the Year are:

  • California: Sandy Lovfald – Eureka High School, Eureka, CA
  • Illinois: Sue Schafer – Taylorville High School, Taylorville, IL
  • Indiana: Travis Scherer – Tri-County High School, Wolcott, IN
  • Iowa: Dr. Michael Retallick – Iowa State University, Ames, IA
  • New York: Elizabeth Foote – Greenwich Junior-Senior High School, Greenwich, NY
  • Ohio: Don Hammersmith – Ayersville High School, Defiance, OH
  • Pennsylvania: Sherisa Nailor – Big Spring High School, Newville, PA

“As a company with deep roots in agriculture, we recognize the essential role agricultural teachers play in their communities and for the future of the industry,” said Brad Liggett, president of Agribusiness at Nationwide. “We’re proud to work with our state partners to recognize these selfless public servants for their many contributions to help prepare the next generation of leaders.”

Golden Owl Award 2021-2022 nomination period
Nationwide launched the Golden Owl Award in 2018-2019 in Iowa and Ohio before expanding the program to recognize leading educators across seven states: California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Nominations for the 2021-2022 Golden Owl Award are now underway and will close on December 31, 2021*. Following the nomination period, a selection committee will determine finalists for each state, who will receive an individualized plaque and $500 to support their agriculture programs2. A finalist in each state will then be chosen as that state’s Golden Owl Award winner. To nominate a teacher or learn more about the Golden Owl Award, visit GoldenOwlAward.com.

“Each year, we receive hundreds of heartwarming nominations describing the incredible impacts agricultural teachers are making in their communities,” said Liggett. “We’re excited to honor more deserving teachers in 2022 and encourage students, parents, fellow teachers and others to nominate their favorite agricultural teachers today.”

Nationwide support of agriculture
Nationwide supports the future of the agriculture community through meaningful sponsorships of national and local organizations. In conjunction with the Golden Owl Award, Nationwide is donating $5,000 to each participating state’s FFA to further support the personal and professional growth of students, teachers and advisors alike.

The Golden Owl Award is the result of a partnership between Nationwide, the California FFA, California Farm Bureau, Illinois FFA, Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers, Farm Credit Illinois, Indiana FFA, Farm Credit Mid-America, the Iowa FFA Foundation, New York FFA, New York Farm Bureau, Ohio FFA, Ohio Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania FFA, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and Compeer Financial.

Through its Grain Bin Safety advocacy campaign, Nationwide also works to educate ag professionals about the hazards of entering grain bins. Since initiating the campaign in 2014, the insurer has also awarded 200 fire departments across 30 states with life-saving grain rescue tubes and hands-on training to help first responders in their rescue efforts when grain entrapments occur. At least five farmers have been successfully rescued using these resources.

1 Source: A.M. Best Market Share Report 2020
2 In accordance with Ohio law, cash prizes in Ohio are awarded to the winner’s school ag program.
* Iowa Golden Owl Award nomination period is Aug. 1 – Dec. 1, 2021. Indiana Golden Owl Award nomination period is Sept. 1 – Dec. 31, 2021. New York Golden Owl Award nomination period is Aug. 1 – Nov. 1, 2021.

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.