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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Agriculture Teachers Honored at Summer Conference

LAS CRUCES?Four agriculture instructors won honorary teaching awards and one was added to the New Mexico Agriculture Education Teachers Association's officer team during the group's summer conference at New Mexico State University.

"FFA is the most powerful organization available for students," said Gary Leger of Las Vegas, N.M., who was named Young Agriculture Instructor of the Year. "I don't say this because I teach it, but I teach it because it's true."

Teachers were selected based on nominations from colleagues during the meeting July 17-21. Robert Booky of Cloudcroft won Agriculture Instructor of the Year, given to a member with at least six years of experience. Leger was honored among teachers with three to five years in the profession. Kim O'Byrne of Hatch was runner-up Young Agriculture Instructor of the Year. First-year teacher Christopher Scott of Carrizozo was named Rookie Agriculture Instructor of the Year.

Booky has taught agriculture in Cloudcroft for 24 years. He is a leader for agricultural education students who want to become certified in particular skill areas. Within the community, Booky directs the local ambulance service and trains emergency medical volunteers.

Leger, a Las Vegas native, returned five years ago to teach agriculture education at Robertson High School. He is known for his innovative teaching techniques and curriculum. His goal is to engage students in as many FFA activities as possible. When he was in high school, Leger served as a state officer. His father was the agriculture teacher at Las Vegas for many years.

Kim O'Byrne has been a teacher for five years, spending four years teaching agriculture in Silver City and Hatch. Her focus is science-based agriculture and biotechnology. For example, she works with students to teach hydroponics--growing plants without soil. She received her master's degree from NMSU in May. Her master's work involved developing a quiz bowl contest for middle school students, which debuted during the FFA state career development events in April.

Scott, whose first teaching job was in Belen, begins work as the new agriculture instructor in Carrizozo this year. He grew up in Artesia and was a state FFA officer in 1997-98. Scott earned a bachelor's degree from Eastern New Mexico State University and a master's degree from NMSU. His goals are to become an adviser to a superior chapter, with state officers and winning teams.

Leger was also elected to the association's officer team. He will serve for four years, rotating through four different positions, starting with secretary.

Officer duties include planning the agriculture education in-service training, participating in legislative action for agriculture education and FFA, and representing the association at regional and national events.

The other officers are Tod Pinnell of Texico, president; Mark Daugherty of Tatum, president-elect; Jesus Trujillo of Hagerman, vice president; and Mark Runyan of Las Cruces, treasurer.