Six Agricultural Teachers Honored as Finalists for California’s Ag Educator of the Year Award

As the number one farm insurer in the United States1, Nationwide® is bringing attention to the importance of agricultural education through the Golden Owl Award®. This annual award honors exceptional agricultural teachers across select states and provides financial support for their education programs.

“Nationwide is proud to recognize outstanding teachers for their dedication to agricultural education in their farming communities,” said Brad Liggett, president of Agribusiness at Nationwide. “This award symbolizes the hard work individual teachers put into agricultural education to help students pursue their passion for farming or other careers in ag.”

In partnership with the California Farm Bureau® and the California FFA, the 2019-2020 Golden Owl Award was introduced to California in the fall of 2019. From October 2019 through January 2020, more than 400 nominations were submitted by local students, fellow teachers, parents and community members. 

Following a review of the nominations, Nationwide, the California Farm Bureau and the California FFA are proud to announce the following exceptional teachers as 2019-2020 Golden Owl Award finalists: 

  • Michael Campbell – Imperial High School, Imperial, CA
  • Rosemary Cummings – Nipomo High School, Nipomo, CA
  • Andree’ Earley – Las Plumas High School, Oroville, CA
  • Cody Jacobsen – Golden Valley High School, Merced, CA
  • Julie Luxon – Madera South High School, Madera, CA
  • Alissa Sarvinski – Eureka High School, Eureka, CA

Each finalist received an individualized plaque and $500 in funding for their program. Later this year, one finalist will be crowned California’s first Ag Educator of the Year and receive the coveted Golden Owl Award trophy and $3,000 in additional funding for their program. 

“Educators devote countless hours, and often their own resources, to positively impact the lives of their students,” Liggett said. “As a company with deep roots in agriculture, we’re proud to supply these hardworking and compassionate public servants with additional funding to help bring new educational opportunities to their students and set them up for successful agricultural careers.”

Nationwide recognized the contributions of 17 Iowa and Ohio agricultural teachers during the 2018-2019 inaugural Golden Owl Award. Following the recognition, the Iowa Educator of the Year, Brad Taylor of Roland-Story High School, quickly saw a 30-student increase in his agricultural shop class for the fall semester – at a high school with just over 300 students. 

As a result of the positive response from the communities in which Golden Owl Award nominees make a difference, the 2019-2020 Golden Owl Award was expanded from two states to five: California, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The 2019-2020 award has honored 31 outstanding ag educators across the five states. Nationwide plans to expand the program even further to recognize top teachers in additional states for the 2020-2021 Golden Owl Award. 

“We’re excited to be able to continue to grow this program and to recognize the importance of agricultural education. We hope to eventually expand to recognize the efforts of teachers all across the country,” added Liggett. 

As the top farm and ranch insurer in the country, Nationwide supports the future of the ag community through meaningful sponsorships of national and local organizations. In conjunction with the Golden Owl Award, Nationwide is donating $5,000 to each state FFA, including the California FFA, to further support the personal and professional growth of students, teachers and advisors alike.   

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, the Iowa FFA Foundation, Ohio FFA, Ohio Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania FFA, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and Compeer Financial. 

For more information or to learn more about California’s Golden Owl Award finalists, visit

1 Source: 2018 SNL Financial Report. Based on statutory data.

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit

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