Hamilton Central School agriculture teacher Johanna Bossard's classes include fun activities like drone flying and car racing.
She is the school's FFA adviser, guiding her members to become the leaders of the future. And she is an ardent advocate — or "agvocate" — of farmers throughout the State of New York.
Her tireless efforts were saluted Jan. 21 as Bossard was honored with Nationwide's Golden Owl Award, naming her a finalist as 2021-22 Ag Educator of the Year. The annual award recognizes extraordinary teachers and supports their future educational efforts. Bossard was one of 11 finalists across the state.
Bossard admitted she was surprised by the award presentation — which interrupted her seventh-grade class and their final day of learning to program and fly drones — and she felt humbled by the honor.
The secret to her success is really no secret at all.
"I just love what I do," she explained.
Leading the ceremony, held in Bossard's own HCS ag classroom, were New York FFA Director Derek Hill, state FFA Vice President Paige Warren, Keith Peavey of the Tanner Insurance Agency in Madison representing Nationwide and John Wagner, New York Farm Bureau's director of county farm bureau relations and development. School district officials included Superintendent Bill Dowsland and Board of Education President Michelle Jacobsen.
"Johanna brings to her students a dedication and passion that really helps them to build a better understanding of the world of agriculture," Hill complimented.
"She just does so much to provide opportunities and enrich the experiences of our students here," Dowsland added.
He pointed out that one student in the candidate recommendations had said how Bossard is like a second mom and provides them love and nurturing. She sets high expectations, Dowsland said, and pushes the students to do things the right way, with respect, leadership and compassion.
"That embodies everything she brings to the school," Dowsland said. "We are fortunate and blessed to have her here."
Many of her students attended the ceremony, filling the classroom.
"She is always super supportive and really listens to her students and uses their input in the classroom," said HCS junior McKinley Craven.
Wagner told the students that they know her as their teacher, but he knew Bossard as a friend and constant proponent of agriculture. He noted that Bossard also led the Madison County Farm Bureau Takeover fundraiser for six years in her "free time," raising money for the hungry.
Bossard was presented with a $500 cash prize and a plaque and now goes on for the chance to be crowned New York's Ag Educator of the Year in May. That honor comes with a prize of $3,000 to help fund future educational efforts.
Bossard lives in Fabius with husband, Bret, and their daughters Brynley and Raegan, who also attended the award presentation. They are co-owners of Barbland and White Eagle Dairy. She has been the ag teacher and FFA adviser at HCS since 2010, currently teaching seventh-grade agriculture, eighth-grade technology, horticulture, ag mechanics, environmental science and pre-vet science.
Bret complimented his wife for being an inspiring example to not only her students but everyone around her.
"She really puts her heart and soul into everything she does," he said. "She is always going and the rest of us just try to keep up with her."
Mike Jaquays is the community news reporter for the Mid-York Weekly. Email him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Madison County teacher Johanna Bossard finalist for Ag Educator of Year