A local educator has been presented an Outstanding Service Award by the National Association of Agricultural Educators.
Russell Watson of Smithville, an educator in the Warren County School System, was named to receive the award last Friday at an award's luncheon in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Throughout his 41 years of teaching, Watson has been very involved in the curriculum changes for many agriculture courses. Early in his career, he realized the need to incorporate courses that were not all production agriculture into the program. With McMinnville being considered the "nursery capitol of the world," Watson began to incorporate courses such as greenhouse management and agribusiness. These kinds of courses were more relevant to his students' lives, which led to increased learning and improved retention.
Watson has served on state and national curriculum committees, and he served as a reviewer for many textbooks now on the market. He began to incorporate math, science and language into the curriculum, giving agriscience courses the opportunity to count towards core credits.
Along with his service to agricultural education as a whole, Watson has also been very successful in his own classroom. Whether it is because of the changes he has made or simply his passion and dedication to the profession, he is doing something right. His agriculture department and FFA chapter has seen numerous American and state FFA degree recipients, national and state finalists in proficiency award areas, and 40 national gold chapter emblems. His students have also been very motivated in continuing their education, with many of them receiving not only a Bachelor's degree, but masters and doctorates as well. His students are not the only ones that have been influenced by Watson's work; his service has continued into the professional organizations in which he is involved. Watson is someone to whom students and fellow teachers alike can look to for advice.
"Mr. Russell Watson has not only served as an educator and FFA advisor, but as a mentor to his students," said Tracy Risinger, Warren County School System Career and Technical Education Director. "It is easy to see that his accomplishments during his 41 year tenure have definitely made a difference in the lives of his students."