Kevin Cooper, agriculture educator at Nevada High School, received the 2017 Outstanding Ag Education Teacher Awarf at the Iowa Association of Agriculture Educators annual banquet and awards program at the Courtyard Marriott in Ankeny on Tuesday, June 27. The outstanding teacher award distinguishes ag educators who are at the pinnacle of their profession — those who are conducting the highest quality agriculture education programs. The award recognizes leadership in civic, community, agriculture/agribusiness and professional activities. Outstanding agricultural educators are innovators and catalyst for student success in agriculture education.
Cooper has been at Nevada since 1988, and was shared between Colo-Nesco and Nevada High Schools from 1988 to 2000. Both high schools had complete and separate ag programs and FFA chapters. Cooper believes that a strong positive relationship must exist between students and teachers, and instruction should be connected to a student’s future. Nevada ag students can learn in the greenhouse, ag mechanics lab, test plots and from their Supervised Ag Experience. In addition, students can develop skills in the FFA career development events, and leadership career development events.
Throughout the Nevada High School agriculture education program, Cooper has networked with local businesses, government agencies and industry to enrich learning for the students. One of the areas that Cooper excels at is the development of business opportunities for the ag program and FFA chapter. Rebuilding tractors for resale, cutting sod for customers, selling and delivering soil and the greenhouse plant sales have provided the students with opportunities to learn how to do good business that creates profit. This past year, Cooper and his students created over $5,000 in revenue by moving pianos, farm equipment and other moving. In 2013, Cooper and his student collaborated with local renewable energy companies and organizations to create the Iowa High School Renewable Energy Conference.
“When you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work” stated Cooper. “I have been very fortunate to work in a supportive school system and a community that believes in education.”