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7 ag teachers win Nationwide’s 2020-21 Golden Owl Award


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, insurance company Nationwide named seven exceptional teachers as their state’s 2020-2021 Ag Educator of the Year through the Golden Owl Award.

Nationwide established the Golden Owl Award in for the 2018-19 school year to honor the contributions of teachers and support them with additional resources to assist their continued educational efforts. The award is given to teachers in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

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

Nominations for the 2021-2022 Golden Owl Award are now underway. 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 programs. 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

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.

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