Indiana FFA Honorary Degree and Distinguished Service Recipients Recognized at the 90th State Convention

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

WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana (June 20, 2019) – Indiana FFA recognized six people for their dedication to agriculture education and FFA at the 90th Indiana FFA State Convention on Wednesday. Jim Armbruster, Mike A. Jones, Mike G. Jones, and Sonya Lord-Chamberlain were recognized as Honorary Degree Recipients, while Steve Keown and Tom Younts were recognized with the Distinguished Service Award.

Mr. Jim Armbruster has done many things to benefit the FFA. He served as an agriculture educator and FFA advisor for 19 years in the state of Arizona and worked at National FFA for over 20 years, earning him his National VIP award in 2018. He has served on the National FFA Local Program Success team as the Senior Education Specialist and has been the liaison between National FFA and State Associations, including the Indiana FFA. At National FFA, Mr. Armbruster has helped improve logistical issues surrounding convention in the areas of student housing, travel ease, and CDE events. Mr. Armbruster has been a presenter at the Indiana AgEd Summer and Winter Workshops, has assisted new and beginning Indiana Agriculture Teachers, and has made many site visits to help advise the development of new Agriculture Education programs. Mr. Armbruster has dedicated time to the Purdue AgEd program by being a guest speaker and presenter on topics such as National FFA resources, the National FFA website, and FFA proficiencies and degrees.

Mr. Mike A. Jones is continually looking to advance Indiana Agriculture.
He has taught for a total of 20 years, and currently teaches at Adams Central. He’s served on the Indiana FFA Board of Trustees for six years, improving the Small Engines CDE by serving as the Small Engines Coordinator for five years, and furthered the Dairy
Judging CDE by serving on the Dairy Judging Committee. He was named as Outstanding Teacher as well as having an Outstanding chapter on multiple occasions by the IAAE. There are plenty of career-ready students he advised as well: numerous state proficiency finalists, 10 national proficiency finalists, 3 State Star Placements and a State Star
Farmer. However, his does not stop with advancing the youth in FFA. He spends much of his time assisting with his County 4-H as he serves in key roles on the Sheep Board, Dairy Board, the head of the Forestry Board, helps host the Kiddie Tractor Pulls during fair week and is always giving a helping hand for the setup and tear-down of the fair.

Mr. Mike G. Jones has served as an agriculture educator and FFA advisor for 19 years, and currently teaches at Tippecanoe Valley. He has helped his students accomplish amazing feats, one of which being the first team to compete at the National Soils contest in the school’s history. Mr. Jones has had state level winners in forestry, soils, poultry and chapter meeting. While serving at two schools Mr. Jones has had a positive influence on hundreds of FFA members during his career and has taken two programs to heights never before obtained. His ability to relate to students of all abilities as well as his long hours and positive caring attitude have served him well and his students have been better for having him cross their path.

Mrs. Sonya Lord-Chamberlain has taught for a total of 31 years between Triton
Jr./Sr. High School, Warsaw High School, Manual high School – IPS and Arsenal Tech High School – IPS and has made great progress through that time. She’s had students compete in every LDE and state winners in multiple contests. She’s also had great success with CDE teams as well. She’s served on the IAAE Board of Controls for 16 years from two different districts. She’s received the honor of Outstanding IAAE teacher twice, Outstanding IAAE Young teacher, and Outstanding IAAE program three times. She has piloted two new curriculums for agriculture, received two USDA grants for urban agriculture, and wrote, trained and presented cross-curriculum lesson plans for Indiana.

Mr. Steve Keown has been with the Carroll @ Flora FFA Chapter for 35 years. Over those years he has had many accomplishments with his members and students. He currently has students in management positions for many agricultural companies as well as careers in the Carroll community and many others across the state. Some FFA highlights include: National 3 Star Gold Emblem Chapter for 14 years, a National Models of Innovation Chapter, a Top Ten Indiana FFA Chapter: 24 years, 27 national proficiency finalists, 13 national proficiency winners, 55 American Degree recipients, 204 state degree recipients, and many more accomplishments. Mr. Keown has served as District V Director for the IAAE for six years, he has served as the State Secretary for two years, and he has been recently elected to the position of IAAE President-elect. Over the years he has been named as District Outstanding Young Teacher, District Outstanding Teacher and had the District Outstanding Program. Mr. Keown has served on several Agriculture Standards Committees over the years and most recently on a State Certification Committee. Mr Keown graduated from Murray State University and was named Outstanding Student in Agriculture Education, Outstanding Senior in Agriculture and given the Chairman’s Leadership Award. He received his M.S. from Purdue University.

Mr. Tom Younts has been teaching for 42 years. He’s had over 100 Hoosier Degree recipients, over 25 American Degree recipients, six past State FFA Officers, coached over 500 students and sent over 100 to national contests for livestock judging, several LDE accomplishments, and has had multiple National Horse Judging Teams. He was a Top Ten Teacher of the Year in 2013 and the Hamilton Southeastern School District-Teacher of the Year in 2012. He was also one of the founders of the Hoosier Beef Congress 1986 and has been Involved with the National Angus Association and National Junior Angus Association.

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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