Justin Wiedower, a graduate of Southern Arkansas University, has been honored with the Outstanding New Ag Educator award by Arkansas Farm Bureau.
He completed his Agricultural Science bachelor’s degree in 2012 and his master’s in Agricultural Education in 2014. Now a teacher at Clinton High School in Clinton, Ark., Wiedower said he has warm memories of SAU.
“I love how SAU was so much like a family,” he said.
Wiedower was honored for his work at Clinton High during Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 82nd annual convention on Dec. 1 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
A release from Arkansas Farm Bureau stated that Wiedower “established a successful and competitive livestock showing program at Lead Hill High School” before moving on to further success at Clinton High. Wiedower said he was notified by Andy Guffey of Arkansas Farm Bureau that he had won the award.
“This has been a personal goal of mine ever since I was a high school student and watched men and women I looked up to as Ag teachers receive this award,” he said.
Wiedower, a graduate of Quitman High School in Quitman, Ark., is in his second year at Clinton High, teaching Plant Science, Greenhouse Management, Horticulture, Nursery Landscape, Veterinary Science, Leadership and Intro to World Agriculture (8th grade).
“The Ag program at Clinton is one of the best in the state, and, for that reason, I wanted to try to get a job here,” Wiedower said. His success in turning around the program at Lead Hill was integral to his application to Clinton High.
“That program increased from zero FFA (Future Farmers of America) members to more than 60,” he said. “After two years, we had more than 45 students on our competitive livestock showing program, which has qualified for state contest each year.”
Wiedower said he measures his success as a teacher by the FFA mission statement, which seeks to “make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.” “I feel that is a great statement for us Ag teachers to follow,” Wiedower said. “I hope my students learn a work ethic while in my classes or in FFA.”
Wiedower spoke highly of his experience at SAU, which he said prepared him for a career in education. He said that Dr. Jeffry Miller, associate professor of agriculture and chair of the Department of Agriculture, was instrumental in his decision to enroll at SAU.
“He called me and asked if I was interested and at first I said no,” Wiedower said. “He asked me if I would come tour the campus, and after my tour, I decided I would give it a try. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I am constantly trying to recruit students to SAU; it’s a great place.”
He said Dr. Copie Moore, assistant professor of agricultural science; Dr. David Sanson, associate professor of agriculture; and John Gentry, instructor of agricultural mechanics, were “three very important people in my life at SAU.”
He said they “not only cared for me as a student but as a person. They will never know how greatly they impacted my life. I looked up to and admired each of them for different reasons, and I would not be where I am today if not for these three. I’m so pleased to not only be able to call them my professors but lifelong friends.”
Wiedower and his wife, Taylor, live in Clinton and were married this past summer. “She is the love of my life,” he said.
For more information about SAU’s Agriculture program, contact Miller at (870) 235-4350 or email firstname.lastname@example.org., or visit www.saumag.edu.