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Wells High School Agriculture Teacher Selected for Educator Award

Don Noorda, agricultural educator at Wells High School in Wells, Nev., is one of only six individuals nationwide who received the Outstanding Teacher Award, given Dec. 4 at the National Association of Agricultural Educators annual convention in Las Vegas.

The Outstanding Teacher award program distinguishes NAAE members who are at the pinnacle of their profession—those who are conducting the highest quality agricultural education programs. The award recognizes leadership in civic, community, agriculture/agribusiness and professional activities. Outstanding agricultural educators are innovators and catalysts for student success in agricultural education.

Noorda has been teaching agriculture at Wells High School since 1993.  Since he came to Wells, program enrollment has grown enough to add another full-time agriculture instructor. Together the teachers have developed plans for additional facilities, including a food science lab and an outdoor garden attached to the existing greenhouse.  Recently, the program also added five new courses, including two agriculture mechanics classes.  Four of the 10 courses offered in the agriculture program at Wells are state science accredited, six are accredited to state humanities, and five courses are also accredited for college credit at Great Basin College.

Noorda’s goal for each of his students is for them to become responsible, employable citizens who have an appreciation for agriculture and the skills to be life-long learners.  Noorda accomplishes this goal through inquiry-based learning, fostering student engagement and getting his students to develop questions instead of answers, putting the responsibility for their education into their own hands.  One of the ways he does this is through his range science unit, where he travels with students to visit several range sites. Students develop hypotheses about why each site is in its current condition, research management strategies for each site, interview the range site managers, and then defend their hypotheses and offer management recommendations.

“Inquiry based instruction demands that students show ownership in their education and develops critical thinkers; both characteristics foster life-long learning interests,” said Noorda.  “Teachers cannot ‘make’ students learn, so I strive to motivate and foster a love of education in each of them.”

Noorda is actively involved in NAAE and the Nevada Agriculture Teachers Association, as well as several other professional organizations, where he has served in multiple leadership positions.

Each of the six regional Outstanding Teacher Awards was recognized at the NAAE convention in Las Vegas and will receive a two-year lease on a 2013 Toyota Tundra as part of their award.  Toyota sponsors the Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher Award as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

NAAE is the professional organization in the United States for agricultural educators.  It provides its’ nearly 8,000 members with professional networking and development opportunities, professional liability coverage, and extensive awards and recognition programs. The mission of NAAE is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.”  The NAAE headquarters are in Lexington, Ky.  



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