JCC ag teacher receives Outstanding Educator AwardJACKSON — Jeff Voss became the second consecutive Jackson County Central agriculture teacher to win the prestigious Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Foundation Outstanding Educator Award for Academic Coach of the Year and its $10,000 prize on May 28.
By: Kari Lucin, Worthington Daily Globe
JACKSON — Jeff Voss became the second consecutive Jackson County Central agriculture teacher to win the prestigious Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Foundation Outstanding Educator Award for Academic Coach of the Year and its $10,000 prize on May 28.
“It’s nice to be recognized by your peers,” Voss said.
The 23-year teaching veteran and FFA advisor was nominated for the award by Laura Bidne, his fellow agriculture teacher and one of the award’s 2007 winners.
Voss received the Outstanding Educator Award at a teacher in-service and until his name was announced, he’d had no idea he would win.
His colleagues have teased him a little bit about not giving a speech, but other things are more important to Voss.
In 23 years of teaching agriculture, 41 of his students have become state champions in career development. Eight of Voss’ students have become state FFA officers. And 11 of his students have gone on to earn degrees in agricultural education.
While Voss regards the trophies, wins and recognition for JCC and his students as wonderful successes, he does not consider any of them, or the Outstanding Educator Award, his biggest accomplishment.
“I get the most joy out of it when I have a student stop back and let me know how they’re doing. They take the time to stop by and see you, and let you know that you helped get them started in a strong career,” Voss said. “That’s the best part of the teaching area — the connections I’ve made with the students, working with them.”
Voss graduated from Sioux Valley High School in 1981 and received his teaching degree from South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D. He recently earned a master’s degree from St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis.
Voss taught in Westbrook for three years and then came to Jackson, where he has been teaching for 20 years.
He believes agricultural education is critical to success because it helps remind people of agriculture’s place as a leading U.S. industry.
“We’re the envy of the world as far as our (agriculture) production and our capabilities and our technology, and it’s something that we need to keep strong in order to be a force to be reckoned with throughout the world,” Voss explained.
Agriculture classes also give students the opportunity to understand why they need to learn mathematics and science, Voss said. Through agriculture, students can learn to apply the concepts they learn in other classes.
For example, in order to do landscaping with rock fill, students must first calculate how much material they need and find out precisely how much area they need to cover, Voss said. Through agriculture, students can see how DNA, hybrids, embryo transfers and artificial insemination are important.
“It can give (science) some relevance, and we’re losing that,” Voss said. “That’s why it’s important we keep agriculture and the electives, and give kids the chance to explore.”
Voss takes pride in his students’ work and successes, and often gets feedback from business owners about how professional the students become.
He praised the community, the school administration and parents for their support of FFA and agriculture programs in general.
After Bidne nominated him for the award, Voss answered about 20 questions in three different categories about his teaching and coaching activities. By the time he finished, the document was about five pages long.
Then Voss had to get an administrator’s recommendation, a peer’s recommendation and a student or parent recommendation to add to the application. The Center for Academic Excellence considered the application and chose Voss for one of the two awards in the Academic Coach of the Year category.
“I’ve got some thank-yous I’ve got to get done for the people that made recommendations, and of course to the Center for Academic Excellence and the WEM Foundation specifically,” Voss said.
Voss plans to use the $10,000 to take a trip somewhere with his family, “because I am gone a lot from home, working with the students.”