Indiana FFA recognizes Honorary Degree and Distinguished Service Recipients

Six members of the agriculture education community tabbed for exceptional service to Indiana FFA.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana (June 21, 2017)Indiana FFA recognized six people for their dedication to agriculture education and FFA at the 88th Indiana FFA State Convention on Wednesday. Brad Acton, Stacey Hartley, Mel Lenig, and Tamara Neighbors were recognized as Honorary Degree Recipients, while Duane Huge and Ben Helms were tabbed with the Distinguished Service Award.

Mr. Brad Acton has been an employee of the Indiana FFA Leadership Center for the past seven years where he plays a key role in the maintenance and upkeep throughout the year. Brad dedicates himself day in and day out to maintain the facilities at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center, which is home to our 12,501 Indiana FFA members.

A middle school agriculture education teacher at Lebanon High School, Mrs. Stacey Hartley has played a vital role in the development and success of both the middle school and high school FFA chapters. Increasing the pipeline of incoming teachers, Mrs. Hartley has influenced numerous students to pursue a degree in agriculture education. She was named IAAE’s District IV Teacher of the Year and Lebanon’s School Corporation’s Teacher of the Year.

Mr. Mel Lenig has been an agriculture educator for 34 years. He has been involved in many activities that has furthered agriculture in both his local community and the state of Indiana, where he has taught over 6,000 students at Penn High School. In 2007, Mr. Lenig was named Indiana’s Agriculture Educator of the Year and has even been invited to the White House twice by two different Presidents as a National Finalist and a National Winner of the Building Our American Communities Program.

Currently serving as the Executive Director of Indiana FFA, Miss Tamara Neighbors began her career in agricultural education at Mount Vernon High School where she taught for six years. She worked to develop a chapter that focused on growing leaders, building communities, and strengthening agriculture.  She has worked diligently to put more structure within the FFA and has launched a five-year strategic plan that should serve as the template for the Association’s operations in the future.

After 41 years of teaching agriculture classes, Mr. Ben Helms retired from teaching in 2016. Mr. Helms taught at L&M High School for two years, and taught at Bloomfield High School for 39 years, where he was only the second Ag teacher ever to teach at Bloomfield High School since its inception in 1949. Mr. Helms served as the dorm counselor at Indiana FFA State Convention for 25 years. During his career, he has spent many hours at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center maintaining, detailing, and building structures around the facility.

Mr. Duane Huge has served as an agricultural educator for a combined 32 years at Cloverdale High School and Danville High School.  He has had several State Star Recipients, three National Proficiency Finalists and one Winner. Mr. Huge also has one National Soils Evaluation Winning Team.  Because of his leadership, Danville will be adding a middle school program and second teacher in the fall of 2017. In his local community, he is a member of the Cloverdale School Board, Hendricks County Farm Bureau Board, Danville High School Department Head and has coordinated and developed multiple service events

The Honorary Degree is to recognize teachers who have created high-quality agricultural education programs which inspire and motivate their students to strive for success and individuals who have provided exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, agricultural education, or FFA. The Distinguished Service Award recognize those who have gone above and beyond for agriculture education and FFA on all levels, who have previously been awarded the Honorary Degree.

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