Top agricultural educators recognized with Golden Owl Award


After considering the importance of agriculture education, and the significant impact teachers make, Nationwide created the Golden Owl Award. The award is a great opportunity to honor the dedication instilled in teachers to provide the next generation with the tools they need to carry out successful careers in agriculture or farming.

With seven honorees from Iowa and 10 from Ohio, each honoree was presented with a $500 prize and all were entered into the final selection stage for the chance to receive $3,000 from Nationwide to help fund future education efforts.

Iowa Honorees:

  • Matthew Eddy, Southeast Polk High School in Pleasant Hill, Iowa
  • Melissa Hageman, South Winneshiek High School in Calmar, Iowa
  • Jacob Hunter, North Scott High School in Eldridge, Iowa
  • Randy Kroksh, Akron-Westfield High School in Akron, Iowa
  • Dr. Robert A. Martin, Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa
  • Steve Sonntag, Southwest Valley High School in Corning, Iowa
  • Brad Taylor, Roland-Story High School in Story City, Iowa

Ohio Honorees:

  • Stephanie Conway, Bowling Green High School in Bowling Green, Ohio
  • Randy Eisenhauer, Shelby High School in Shelby, Ohio
  • Shelby Faulkner, Ridgemont High School in Mt. Victory, Ohio
  • Tom Holton, East Knox Jr./High School in Howard, Ohio
  • Holly Jennings, Felicity-Franklin High School in Felicity, Ohio
  • John Poulson, Pettisville High School in Fulton County, Ohio
  • Michael Spahr, Greene County Career Center in Xenia, Ohio
  • Dave Stiles, Indian Valley High School in Gnadenhutten, Ohio
  • Katrina Swinehart, Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio
  • Erin Wollett, Cardington-Lincoln High School in Cardington, Ohio

“We created this award to bring attention to the growing need for agricultural teachers in this country,” said Brad Liggett, president of Agribusiness at Nationwide. “Providing teachers with these additional resources will help develop their programs and provide their students with an optimal learning experience. Our goal is to spread this award to more states in the coming years to highlight all the talented agriculture teachers across the country.”

Nationwide encouraged students, fellow teachers and other supporters to nominate their favorite teacher and summarize what makes them the best in their state. With years of experience in the field, these teachers have been passionate about making sure their students are prepared for the real world. Whether it’s taking the time to individually work with each student or making it a priority to create a better community, all the educators have made a positive impact in the lives around them. To see more information and photos of the Golden Owl Award recipients, check out their website

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