A veteran Pettisville teacher has been awarded an elite designation by the National Association of Agricultural Educators.
John Poulson, who has taught agriscience and ag business for 27 years at Pettisville High School, was named 2016 National Agriscience Teacher of the Year for NAAE’s Region IV. The region comprises Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Michigan.
Poulson is one of only six educators across the United States to receive the distinction. He was nominated multiple times by people within the region.
Julie Fritsch, NAAE communications and marketing coordinator, said Poulson was selected for his practical application of science in the classroom.
“He takes agriculture and shows students the science behind it, and he does it in a way that’s rigorous and relevant to the students,” she said.
Poulson was also chosen on the strength of research projects he presents to students, which have been entered in numerous competitions.
Fritsch said the states comprising Region IV figure prominently in agriscience education, “so it’s a pretty competitive and prestigious award.”
Between 50-60 high school students and 40-50 eighth grade students take Poulson’s classes each year. His curriculum covers animal, plant, environmental, and food sciences, biotechnology, business management, mechanical principles, and personal development.
It also incorporates projects such as Meals for Hope, Animal Day, and participation in the Fulton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s yearly Ag Fest. Poulson said those and research projects help students learn organizational skills and a diversity of topics, and advocate for their industries.
And Poulson moderates Pettisville FFA, most of which is conducted outside the classroom.
He calls his curriculum “career and college ready,” and said while his classes may not be unique in comparison to other schools’ agriculture programs, he has pioneered some agriculture science-based programs.
“I do know that my program has longevity. I have a lot of years to draw from,” he said.
Poulson has, in fact, taught summer labs for teachers across Ohio. “I enjoy helping younger teachers get trained in it. When I talk to other teachers, I still learn things from them,” he said.
He’s most proud that his research shows approximately 70 percent of former students who took his classes into senior year are now earning a living in an agriculture field.
“I feel like we’re getting good students back into the community and industry,” he said.
Fritsch said NAAE looks for agriscience teachers “who can take a really challenging and important topic and present it in a way that’s relatable to (students)…and prepares them for an advanced degree in the science field and for a career.”
PHS Principal Michael Lane said it’s a significant honor for Poulson, and well-deserved. “There’s no one more deserving. This man never rests,” he said.
Lane said he wishes every student could be shaped by Poulson’s FFA program.
“I would be very pleased if he would stay here the next five years to work his magic and help the kids in the community,” he said. “He’s one of those kind of guys who’s going to be extremely difficult to replace. He does everything first class.”
Poulson attributes his longevity in teaching agriscience and ag business to a supportive school administration and an equally supportive community.
“I’m humbled and proud. I know I’ve had some effect over what happened to ag teachers in the state of Ohio and to the students here,” he said. “I appreciate being recognized, but I also want the kids to be recognized.”
Poulson will be awarded during the NAAE Convention in Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 29-Dec.3. He receives the trip as part of the award, and will be honored at a dinner and before his peers during a general session.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.