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Seven distinguished agricultural teachers recognized as Ag Educators of the Year

Nominations for the 2021-2022 Golden Owl Award® are now open

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.

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.

In collaboration with state partners, the insurer recently recognized the exceptional efforts of 51 agricultural teachers across seven states as Golden Owl Award finalists.

The 2020-21 grand prize winners and 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

In addition to the Ag Educator of the Year title, each grand prize winner received $3,000 in funding to help bring new opportunities to their programs and students2.

“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.”


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.