Califonia Bountiful

Now from Nationwide: Golden Owl Award returns to crown California's top ag educator

November/December 2020 California Bountiful magazine

Through Dec. 31, students, parents, fellow teachers or other supporters can nominate their favorite agricultural teacher for a chance to be recognized as the best in California through the Golden Owl Award.

Nominations can be submitted online at

In partnership with the California Farm Bureau Federation and the California FFA, Nationwide introduced this annual award last year to honor California's outstanding agricultural educators and to crown our state's Agricultural Educator of the Year—a distinction awarded to Rosemary Cummings of Nipomo High School in Nipomo.

As a result of her efforts, Cummings received the coveted Golden Owl Award trophy and $3,000 in funding to help bring new educational opportunities to the program and its students. Cummings was one of six extraordinary California agricultural teachers recognized as finalists for the 2019-20 Golden Owl Award, after more than 400 nominations were submitted.

"It's an honor to recognize outstanding teachers for their dedication to agricultural education in their communities," said Brad Liggett, president of Agribusiness at Nationwide. "This award symbolizes the hard work individual teachers put into agricultural education to help students pursue their passion for farming or other careers in ag."

CFBF President Jamie Johansson said, "One reason California farmers and ranchers have remained so creative in the crops they grow and the way they grow them is because of the foundation they gained from innovative agricultural teachers. This school year, we are seeing that even more clearly, as teachers adapted to distance learning and new ways of connecting to students. The Golden Owl Award encourages and recognizes the outstanding work performed every day by California agricultural teachers."

Nationwide inaugurated the Golden Owl Award during 2018-19 by recognizing the contributions of 17 Iowa and Ohio agricultural teachers. As a result of the positive response from the communities in which Golden Owl Award nominees make a difference, the 2019-20 Golden Owl Award was expanded to recognize 31 outstanding educators across five states: California, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Now in 2020-21, the award is expanding again to include Indiana and New York.

"Educators devote countless hours, and often their own resources, to positively impact the lives of their students," Liggett said. "As a company with deep roots in agriculture, Nationwide is proud to supply these hardworking and compassionate public servants with additional funding, and we hope to eventually expand our efforts to recognize the work of teachers all across the country."

As the No. 1 farm insurer in the country*, Nationwide supports the future of the agricultural community through meaningful sponsorships of national and local organizations. In conjunction with the Golden Owl Award, Nationwide is donating $5,000 to each participating state's FFA, including the California FFA, to further support the personal and professional growth of students, teachers and advisors alike.

To nominate a teacher or for more information, visit

Article contributed by Nationwide, which is endorsed by the California Farm Bureau Federation. 
*Source: 2018 SNL Financial Report. Based on statutory data.

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