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APPLETON, WIS.- The agricultural education program at the Kiel Middle and High Schools has received the Outstanding Agricultural Education Program Award from the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators (WAAE). This award was presented to instructors David Friend and Erica Eickert at the WAAE Professional Development Conference held in Appleton, Wis. on June 24-28, 2018. This state-level honor is generously sponsored by Don and Mary Josko.


The Outstanding Secondary/Middle School Program Award is bestowed upon an agricultural education program and its instructors who have excelled in membership, participation in WAAE and other professional associations, classroom instruction, FFA involvement, and community service.

The Kiel, Wis.-based program led by Friend and Eickert covers several agricultural pathways ranging from biotechnology to natural resources. Recently, the two instructors added a Personal Leadership class, which enrolled 90 students.


They focus on incorporating inquiry into the classroom daily, empowering students to take control of their education. One unique aspect of the Kiel program is that students use hydroponics and aquaponics systems to supply the school lunch salad bar.

The duo says this is their teaching philosophy: “As teachers, we try to find an ember still smoldering in the middle school and high school students. We identify the fuel source that inspires them and then tie it to the concepts of the agriculture courses.”

Within Kiel’s ag-based curriculum, students are introduced to Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs) in middle school, and all students in the ag program eventually have their individual SAE project.


Several students are involved in the Youth Apprenticeship program, where they learn skills from their employer. They also have the opportunity through Friend and Eickert’s mentoring, to participate in research, job shadow, part-time employment or volunteering positions.


Much of the success Friend and Eickert have found can be attributed to the partnerships they have built within their local community, particularly through the Kiel FFA Alumni, Advisory Committee, and more than 30 local businesses.

“David and Erica are very hard-working educators that encompass our theme: WAAE Beyond the Classroom,” says Darren Swartz, 2017-2018 WAAE president. “They both use innovative experiences in agriculture for their students, which aids them in becoming college and career ready. It is an honor to see them win this prestigious award.”


WAAE is the professional association for agricultural educators in Wisconsin. Members include 410 middle school, high school, technical college and university educators. The focus of the association is to provide professional development, legislative support and educational resources for teachers to enhance their local agriculture education programs.

For more information about your local agriculture education program and to find out how you can support agriculture in your community, please contact your local agriculture education instructor or call WAAE at www.waae.com.


Date: June 27, 2018
Contact: Nicole Nelson, Executive Director

Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators (WAAE)

PO Box 935; East Troy, WI 53120

262-470-8369 (voice or text)





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