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51 Inspirational Teachers Named Golden Owl Award® Finalists

Golden Owl Award finalists nominated for the chance to be crowned their state’s Ag Educator of the Year

Agricultural educators serve a critical role in the communities they serve, devoting countless hours to preparing students for successful careers and helping them pursue their passions.

Nationwide, the No. 1 insurer of farms and ranches in the U.S.1, partnered with state FFA organizations to create the Golden Owl Award in 2018 to highlight the growing importance of educators and recognize the services of many of the country’s leading agricultural teachers. The program also supplies additional resources to help boost the teachers’ programs and provide students with optimal learning experiences.

Between August and December 2021*, Nationwide worked with partners in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, to collect nominations from students, parents and community members to identify educators who go above-and-beyond in making a difference for their students.

The 2021-2022 Golden Owl Award finalists are:


  • Anthony Drumonde, Livingston High School, Livingston
  • Kelly Miller, Arcata High School, Arcata
  • Natalie Schuessler, North High School, Bakersfield
  • Miguel Guerra, Ernest Righetti High School, Santa Maria
  • Mary Martineau, Ramona High School, Ramona
  • Elizabeth Ammon, Lassen high School, Susanville


  • Caseelynn Johnston, Bureau Valley High School, Manlius
  • Kent Weber, Seneca High School, Seneca
  • Wyatt McGrew, Macomb High School, Macomb
  • Mike White, Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School, Paxton
  • Mark Steber, Richland County High School, Olney


  • McCord Snider, East Central Middle School, Leon
  • Blair Orme, Rushville High School, Rushville
  • Brenlyn Freeman, Rensselaer Central High School, Rensselaer
  • Andrew Helming, Jasper High School, Jasper
  • Michael Jones, Adams Central High School, Monroe
  • Adam Miller, Fountain Central High School, Veedersburg
  • Hank Carson, Orleans High School, Orleans
  • Hannah Doke, McCutcheon High School, Lafayette


  • Kevin Cooper, Nevada High School, Nevada
  • Jon Davis, Iowa State University, Ames
  • Ashley Wiebe, Susan Clark Jr High School, Muscatine
  • Jamie Christiansen, Midland High School, Wyoming
  • Micah Weber, Rock Valley High School, Rock Valley
  • Tes Mittag, Boyer Valley High School, Dunlap
  • Mike Cooley, East Union, Afton

New York

  • Chloe Fuentes, John Bowne High School, Queens
  • Taylor Bogardus, Schoharie Central School, Schoharie
  • John St. Mary, Brushton-Moira Central School, Brushton
  • Tina James, Windsor Central School, Windsor
  • Johanna Bossard, Hamilton Central School, Hamilton
  • Melvin Phelps, Lowville Academy, Lowville
  • Crystal Aukema, Marathon Central School, Marathon
  • Matthew Bryant, SCT Future Conservationist, Elmira
  • Todd Eick, Medina High School, Medina
  • Patricia Walker, Randolph Junior/Senior High School, Randolph
  • Charles “Chip” Ax, SUNY Morrisville, Morrisville


  • Tricia Schoen, Genoa High School, Genoa
  • Laura Ringler, Plymouth High School, Plymouth
  • Lowell Moodt, Grand Valley High School, Orwell
  • Barrett Zimmerman, Clyde High School, Clyde
  • Sarah Heilers, Anna High School, Anna
  • Aaron Thompson, Upper Scioto Valley High School and Ohio Hi-Point Career Center, McGuffey
  • Jeff Tilley, Amanda-Clearcreek High School, Amanda
  • Tim Kilpatrick, Coshocton County Career Center, Coshocton
  • Eric Heeg, Blanchester High School, Blanchester
  • Abby Campbell, Fort Frye High School, Beverly


  • Kathryn Janae McMichael, Lampeter-Strasburg High School, Lancaster
  • Doug Brown, Central Columbia High School, Bloomsburg
  • Tiffany Hoy, Tyrone Hight School, Tyrone
  • Jodie Hoover, Fort Cherry High School, McDonald

Each finalist was presented with an individualized plaque in front of fellow teachers and students and received a $500 donation to help fund future educational efforts. Now, they’ll be entered into a final selection stage for the chance to be crowned as their state’s Ag Educator of the Year, earning an additional $3,000 Nationwide-funded check to help boost their program and the coveted Golden Owl Award trophy.2

“The Golden Owl Award seeks to thank agricultural teachers for the extraordinary care they bring to their work as they go above and beyond in educating America’s youth and future leaders,” said Nationwide’s agribusiness president, Brad Liggett. “We are proud to honor their contributions, highlight the growing need for their services, and supply additional resources to help benefit their programs and students.”

In conjunction with the Golden Owl Award, Nationwide is also donating $5,000 to each participating state’s FFA organization to further support the personal and professional growth of students, teachers and advisors alike. 

The Golden Owl Award is the result of partnerships 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, AgCredit, Pennsylvania FFA, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and Compeer Financial.  


1 Source: A.M. Best Market Share Report 2020

2 In Ohio, all Golden Owl Award funding is contributed directly to the school to benefit the agriculture programs.

*Iowa Golden Owl Award nomination period was Aug. 1 – Dec. 1, 2021. Indiana Golden Owl Award nomination period was Sept. 1 – Dec. 31, 2021. New York Golden Owl Award nomination period was Aug. 1 – Nov. 1, 2021.