Agriculture Teachers Association, Inc.

2016 MATA Conference Award Winners

MATA Professional

Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education                                            

Aaron Geiman, Carroll County         

Aaron teach the CASE Curriculum in Carroll County.  Not only was he on the front end of the conception of CASE, he is also one of the first certified CASE Master Teachers.  He is certified in five courses through CASE and has trained other educators in teaching CASE at CASE Institutes in eight states.

Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education

Diane Safar at Winters Mill High School, Carroll County

Diane has been teaching at Winters Mill High School for several years.  After looking for ways to enhance the educational experience for her students, Diane began teaching the CASE program.  She teachers both the veterinary skills and internship courses.  This year her program had 11 completers.  All of these students completed college level research papers and posters in various projects.  The students presented their projects to a board of educators, including a representative of the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation.  She has conducted many interesting labs in her classes.  She has also reached out to other teachers to assist them with CASE projects. 

Animal Science                                   

Pat Beachy at Linganore High School, Frederick County

Pat’s Animal Science component is one of her greatest success stories during her 20 year tenure at Linganore High.  The program includes a Small Animal Pre-Vet course and a Large Animal Science course.  Both classes are hands-on learning experiences.  Students bring in their own dogs, cats, alpacas, horses, steers, dairy heifers, cows, chickens, goats and lambs to learn about each speices.  Students dissect swine hearts and lungs, perform a C-Section on a pregnant pig uterus, and even experience barrel horse racing demonstrations. Many of her students obtain internships with several local veterinarian offices such as Green Valley Veterinarians and Heritage Animal Hospital.  She has worked closely with Dr. Ashley Barthlow, owner of Heritage Animal Hospital and also a Linganore High School Alumnus.  Dr. Barthlowhas employed several of Pat’s students after they completed their internships.  Pat’s students have also interned and worked at the Frederick County Animal Control.  In Large Animal Science students learn all aspects of reproduction, nutrition and feeding, management, showing and raising large animals and basic veterinary skills associated with each species.  Several of her students have become equine veterinarians and equine dentists.

Middle School                        

Tom Mazzone at Hancock Middle/Senior High School, Washington County

Tom established and operates an entire 8th grade middle school agriscience program at his school- the smallest secondary public school in Maryland.  Tom sought out help and worked with other middle school agriculture teachers to get ideas in implement into his program.  His work on breaking ground in providing the leadership and gaining support of his school and community is commendable.


Mike Harrington at Brunswick High School, Frederick County

Mike has taught Horticulture at Brunswick High for 23 years.  It has become a very popular course in his time at Brunswick.  He has had a number of Horticulture Completers in his time teaching.  Students have grown a crop of poinsettias and bedding plants in the schools’ greenhouse every year since he took over the program.  The greenhouse is open every spring for the public to buy plants.  Last year they had a very successful plant sale.  Mike’s students enter corsages and floral arrangements in the Great Frederick Fair and Brunswick Community Show.  They have received many blue ribbons for these projects.  Mike and his students have completed many beautification projects around the school, including front entrance flower beds.

Natural Resource Management 

J.D. Repp/Cody Pine at Clear Spring High School, Washington County

Natural Resources is one of five pathway options in the agriculture program at Clear Spring High.  After completing Foundations of Agricultural/Environmental Science, students choosing to complete the Natural Resource Pathway enroll in (1) Forestry, Soils & the Environment, (2) Wildlife & Aquatics, and (3) a Capstone course.  With close proximity to the school owned forest, pond, and stream, students conduct stream studies, timber cruising, and various natural resource management practices as part of the program.  Clear Spring agriculture students regularly represent Washington County at the Maryland Envirothon and compete in Maryland FFA Environmental Natural Resources and Forestry CDEs.  In addition, the program holds an articulation with Allegany College of Maryland’s Forestry Program.

FFA Leadership                                 

Lori Mayhew at Damascus High School, Montgomery County

The past school year saw a major increase in the advocacy efforts within the Damascus FFA.  The chapter participated in numerous events that provided education and outreach for students. The opportunities to work with our industry leaders and elected representatives provide students with extensive advocacy experiences and excellent connections to course work in other classes at Damascus.  Events included:
-NASA and USDA lettuce planting in the People’s Garden, Washington, D.C.
-Congressman John Delaney’s Agriculture Workshop in Sharpsburg, MD
-Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show, Baltimore, MD
- “Day on the Hill” National FFA Legislative Advocacy Workshop
-Montgomery Countryside Alliance- Growing the Agriculture Reserve in Montgomery County
-April Farm Tour with the Montgomery Countryside Alliance

FFA Leadership

Frederick Doepkens at Hereford Middle School, Baltimore County

Fred has coordinated efforts with the Maryland FFA Association to adapt several Career Development Events to be geared toward middle school students with a middle school award structure.  He coordinated efforts also to create a specialized Vertical Farm Judging contest for middle school students which would highlight the accomplishments in their instructional program.  These changes have helped to increase the middle school student participation in state FFA events.

Overall Agriscience Program 

J.D. Repp/Cody Pine at Clear Spring High School, Washington County

As the Academy of Agricultural & Environmental Science, the agriculture program offers opportunities for students in a school district without an agriculture program to enroll at Clear Spring High.  Within the program, student can enroll in five different completer programs.  220 students are enrolled in the agriculture program- about 50% of the school’s student population.  With a school greenhouse, forest, livestock and crop farm, and neighboring outdoor school every student is has the opportunity to conduct an SAE program on campus. The program provides floral arrangements for school organization banquets, the county teacher retirement banquet, graduation, and weddings through-out the year.  The program maintains school flowers and shrubs as well as the memorial garden at the Clear Spring Public Library.  Each year middle school and elementary students are hosted at Clear Spring to see the projects and activities happening as well as alumni of the program speaking about the careers in agriculture.  They partner with FFA Alumni to host the Clear Spring Fall Fest at the school farm.  Cody serves as the County Cluster Leader for Agricultural and Environmental Programs while J.D. serves on the MATA Board of Directors and committees, FFA Board of Directors, and the FFA Foundation Board of Directors.


MATA Recognition


Donna Brightman

Mrs. Brightman is a regional Horticultural and Landscape Consultant.  In Washington County she serves on the Agricultural Education Program Advisory Committee and is always to first to reach out and inquire as to when the next meeting or event is.  She currently serves as President of the Washington County Board of Education.  She asks the tough questions to administrators and colleagues and works toward making ag education and career technology education a priority for school administrators to give students real skills for after high school.  She has been awarded both an Honorary Chapter Degree from Clear Spring FFA and an Honorary State Degree from the Maryland FFA Association.  She is also President-Elect of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.


Delegate Mike McKay

Delegate Mike McKay, representing Allegany and Washington counties is a champion of advocating for agricultural education.  After the closure of the agriculture program in Allegany County, and realizing Howard County also lacks a program, Delegate McKay spear-headed legislation in the Maryland House of Delegates to encourage each school district in Maryland to have an agricultural education program in at least one high school with Senator Gail Bates sponsoring the senate bill.  Both bills passed and we value Delegate McKay’s advocacy for student opportunities.

Spreading the Word               

J.D. Repp

J.D. understands the value and necessity of promoting and spreading the word.  He regularly spreads the word on behalf of the students enrolled in the agriculture program at Clear Spring High School by sharing press releases and picture with the Herald Mail, Lancaster Farmer, and Washington County Public Schools’ Communications Officer.  In the past year the program has been featured on the front page of the Herald Mail three times, in addition to other stories printed.  The stories range from contest results to program growth.  J.D. also uses Facebook and Twitter to spread the news.  J.D. is also keen on having regular contact via email to keep MATA members updated and current on MATA news.

Spreading the Word

Frederick Doepkens

Fred regularly tweets pictures and events happening within his program through Hereford Middle Schools’ Twitter along with the county CTE Office.  Fred created the interactive Ag Ed map on the MATA website which shows locations and program descriptions for all to see.

Teacher of Teachers              

Terrie Shank                           

Doug Hering                                      

Mike Harrington                                            

Lori Mayhew


NAAE Awards

Outstanding Service Citation

Jim Ferrant

From the time Jim walked in the doors of Linganore High School in 1978 to begin teaching agricultural education, he was enthusiastic and energetic in everything he did.  He was an advisor for one of the leading FFA Chapters in the state with numerous teams competing on the national level.  Jim has always supported youth and agriculture and maintains that support throughout his career and retirement.  He left the classroom to become the Maryland FFA Executive Secretary at the State Department of Education.  His drive, dedication, and determination was witnessed throughout the state in implementing new agriculture programs.  He returned to Frederick County and was Supervisor of Career Technology Education.  He was very instrumental in helping to design and advocate for the new Oakdale and Linganore High School agriculture departments.  Upon his retirement, he has worked countless hours in support of educating youth to attend and participate in the Great Frederick Fair and providing them with instructional information on agriculture.

Outstanding Cooperator Award

Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation

Since it’s origins in 1989 MAEF has become a champion of preserving, protecting, and promoting agricultural education of all forms in Maryland.  The partnership with MSDE to maintain the Maryland FFA program is only one piece of MAEF’s cooperation with agriculture teachers to grow agricultural education and agricultural career awareness in Maryland.  MAEF provides a Director of Secondary/Post-Secondary Education, FFA Executive Director, and FFA Program Coordinator dedicated to enhancing and supporting the work we’re doing in classrooms, SAEs, and FFA.  The matching of new sponsor dollars MAEF offers the Maryland FFA Foundation also directly impacts our own students in a positive way.  Time and again MAEF has proven to be a number one cooperator of agriculture teachers.

Ideas Unlimited                      

Frederick H. Doepkens, Low-Cost Hydroponic System                                                                          

Outstanding Teacher 

Frederick H. Doepkens at Hereford Middle School, Baltimore County

Fred been a teacher and member of the MATA and NAAE for 36 years and has been a leader in developing a quality middle school instructional program at Hereford Middle School.   He began the program in 1984 when the school opened and has worked on creating and writing the curriculum and activities that have been used in the program.  In 1991 Fred’s program became certified by MSDE as a Middle School Agriculture program in the CTE office and he’s been an advocate for middle level agriculture ever since.   He has conducted numerous workshops for the MATA over the years sharing his experience and activities with other teachers.  He has also served in leadership roles in the MATA.  He serves on the Maryland Council on Ag Education this year and has supported the programs and initiatives in the MATA.   Fred was also a founding member of the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation and has worked for over 25 years teaching workshops for AITC and has served on its board of directors. 


Outstanding Young Member

Bridget Nicholson at Manchester Valley High School, Carroll County

Bridget has had a variety of teaching experiences.  Her career started with being a long term substitute in agriculture for three different schools in Maryland.  She later landed a full time teaching position in the state of Indiana where she taught for two years.  She then returned to Maryland where she taught one year at Southern High School and is now beginning her second year teaching at Manchester Valley High School.   During these years, Bridget has taught several subjects such as technology education, science, and career coordinating in addition to agricultural education.   Bridget is certified in three Curriculum for Agriscience Education (CASE) courses: Plant Science, Animal Science, and Research Capstone.  She has also completed training in the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy (NATAA) through DuPont for inquiry based learning. 

Outstanding Secondary Program       

Teresa Stevens at Tuscarora High School, Frederick County

Teresa began her career in education in 1987 and has been teaching agriculture at Tuscarora since 2003.  This year marks 10 years since the FFA chapter at Tuscarora was chartered and 101 students are members.  Teresa teaches courses in the areas of Agriscience, Horticulture, Small Animal Pre-Vet, Large Animal Pre-Vet, Biotechnology and Independent Study.  Her facilities include a classroom and laboratory, teacher resource area, computer stations, project storage, student work room, greenhouse, and a nature trail. Teresa has coached multiple top placing FFA teams.  Her FFA students also participate in the Washington Leadership Conference, Chapter Officer Leadership Training, MD Made for Excellence, and Regional Leadership Conference.  The chapter regularly conducts and participates in many community outreach events such as Animal Control Supply Drive, Craft Show, Petting Zoo, and landscaping at Tuscarora and feeder schools.  For SAEs her students have held a variety including Small Animal Care, Equine Management, Dairy Production, Livestock Production and placement in Beekeeping, Floral Design, gardening to name a few.

Teachers Turn the Key                      

Tom Mazzone at Hancock Middle/Senior High School, Washington County

Tom Mazzone was hired in 2013 at Hancock Middle/Senior High School where he began the agriculture program.  As a single agriculture teacher department, Mr. Mazzone puts in countless hours in creating innovative lessons and projects for his students.  He has written and received several grants in order to provide a plethora of agricultural opportunities for his students.  One of his grants was obtaining a drone for his program. Some of his creative lessons include Soil sedimentation, CO2 Output of leaves with varying light reactions and a lab about animal’s adaptability to temperature in varying seasons.  Through hands on learning experiences, his students learned how to tap maple trees in order to extract syrup from them.  His students enjoyed learning how to make their own duck calls and duck blinds.  His stellar abilities and passion for agriculture and youth make him an excellent recipient

Teacher Mentor                                 

Joe Linthicum at Francis Scott Key High School, Carroll County

Mr. Joe, as students and colleagues affectionately call him, wrapped up 41 years in teaching this past school year.  Joe’s dedication to agricultural education proves that he is an agricultural educator “by choice, and not by chance.”  A few months ago Joe was recognized by Maryland 4-H as a Friend of 4-H, quite an honorable recognition for an FFA Advisor.  A few years ago Joe was also recognized by the National FFA Organization with an Honorary American FFA Degree.  He currently serves on the Maryland FFA Board of Directors as well as the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation Board of Directors.  He is always willing to lend advice or expertise to new and upcoming teachers and even his seasoned colleagues that value his experience and thoughtful professionalism.

Outstanding Post-Secondary Program

Institute of Applied Agriculture at University of Maryland

The Institute of Applied Agriculture affords students of agricultural education in  Maryland the opportunity to study agricultural sciences at the post-secondary level earning a certificate.  With an exceptional job placement rate, the IAA ensures a supply of well educated graduates to meet the needs of the agriculture industry in Maryland.  Students enrolled in the program from there also have the opportunity to apply to UMD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  Students can graduate with a certificate in industry as well as an undergraduate degree within four years.  The IAA visits high school agriculture programs regularly to share information and recruit potential students, showcasing the entire university.