The following is a press release issued by the California FFA Foundation:
On February 24, 2023, the California FFA, California Farm Bureau and Nationwide recognized Beth Swehla, an agricultural teacher at Anderson Valley High School in Boonville, as a finalist for the 2022-2023 Ag Educator of the Year honor through Nationwide’s Golden Owl Award. As a finalist, Swehla will receive a $500 cash prize and be recognized on stage at the 95th Annual State FFA Leadership Conference in Ontario later this week.
Agricultural educators play a vital part in their communities, dedicating countless hours to equip students for fulfilling careers and help them follow their interests. To honor their contributions and support them with additional resources, Nationwide established the Golden Owl Award in 2018 to recognize outstanding teachers across several states.
“We see the positive impact that the FFA program has had for many of our members, who have gone on to become leaders in Farm Bureau and in the agriculture community,” stated California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson. “Our farm and ranch members recognize the efforts of local teachers to support the next generation of agriculturalists.”
Between September 1 and January 23, 2023, the California FFA, California Farm Bureau and Nationwide collected more than 800 nominations for California’s top agricultural teachers from students, parents and community members across the state. Following the recognition of six finalists, a selection committee will honor one finalist as California’s grand prize winner and Ag Educator of the Year. The winner will receive the coveted Golden Owl Award trophy and an additional $3,000 Nationwide-funded check to support the development of their program.
“California FFA is excited to partner with Nationwide and the California Farm Bureau to honor outstanding agricultural educators and FFA Advisors,” said Charles Parker, State FFA Advisor for California Association, FFA. ”With a record number of teachers being nominated, the six teachers selected as regional winners and state finalists have demonstrated why they are deserving of this recognition. The agricultural education family is honored to have high quality educators who not only provide classroom instruction but also coach students in career and leadership development events and expose students to career opportunities through their participation in supervised experience programs.”
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 the California FFA to further support the personal and professional growth of students, teachers and advisors alike.
“As a company deeply rooted in agriculture, we are proud to collaborate with our state partners to recognize outstanding agriculture teachers, who are not only critical to the communities they serve, but also to the farming industry as a whole,” said Brad Liggett, president of Agribusiness at Nationwide. “We are extremely grateful for the contributions and dedication of these selfless public servants.”
Learn more about the Golden Owl Awards and past honorees on Nationwide’s website.