Lodi High FFA adviser and agriculture instructor JessaLee Goehring has been named the state's agriscience teacher of the year. She received the top honor during an on-stage ceremony at the 82nd California State FFA Leadership Conference in Fresno.
"I'm extremely honored and humbled," she said Wednesday, adding that what was most rewarding was watching video taken of the presentation later and hearing her some of her 26 students in the audience say, "That's my teacher."
The Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award recognizes outstanding agricultural educators who emphasize science concepts, principles and applications in their curriculum, according to a press release.
Winners are recognized at chapter, state and national levels. Those who win state awards go on to compete for national recognition, which comes with a $1,500 grant for the winner's school.
"It would be great to provide that for kids," Goehring said,
Agriscience education enhances the image of agriculture by portraying to students that agriculture includes many careers that are not solely agricultural production or business-oriented.
"The Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award is one of the organization's finest examples of the advanced nature of applied academics that agricultural education provides," Bob Heuvel, state FFA advisor and California Department of Education, Agriculture and Home Economics unit manager, said in a press release.
Goehring was required to fill out an application and submit it to a regional board. She was one of five finalists who underwent a detailed interview last weekend on how she creates a successful program at Lodi High, and wasn't aware of the win until it was announced on stage at the state conference April 18.
She bested other candidates, some of which had more than 20 years of teaching experience compared to her six. "It was very intimidating, but felt rewarding to be standing there with teachers of that caliber, she said."
Goehring is not the only one to receive statewide recognition at last weekend's event. Lodi High brought home eight state champions.
"Their hard work and determination to succeed has impacted others in our agriculture program," Goehring said on behalf of fellow agriculture teachers and FFA advisors Brent Newport and Rebecca Freeman.
"To be awarded California State FFA Champions in their competitions is an accomplishment and many students aspire to accomplish what they have. These students have truly demonstrated strong work ethics, and responsibility to prepare for their projects and will only follow them later in their life."
Assistant Superintendent and former Lodi High principal Bill Atterberry said Goehring is very deserving of the award.
"She has been an integral part of every aspect of the agriculture department: From advising the Future Farmers of America, to accompanying her students to competitions, Ms. Goehring has selflessly contributed her personal time to benefit the program and to facilitate student success," he said in a written statement.
Additionally, her contribution to the annual agriscience competition exemplifies her unrelenting drive to instill rigor and relevance into her students' academic lives, Atterberry said, adding that Goehring's teacher peers also see her success.
"She exposes students to the concept of original research using the scientific method on an agriculture-related topic of interest. Students are required to integrate the skills they've gleaned from English language arts, math and science to complete their assignments.
"Teachers who share Ms. Goehring's students were flabbergasted over how well students who performed poorly in their classes performed on their Agriscience project! It is context-based learning at its best," Atterberry said.
In 2007, Goehring received an outstanding advisor award and was a finalist for the state agriscience recognition last year, according to the Future Farmers of America organization.
She graduated from Lodi High School in 1998.