Brad Taylor, an agriculture teacher at Roland-Story High School, was crowned the 2018-2019 Iowa Ag Educator of the Year presented by the inaugural Golden Owl Award on Monday evening. Nationwide honored Taylor's substantial contributions on future industry leaders of agriculture education.

Taylor has created a positive program and atmosphere for his students and the community. For example, he formed a partnership with a local company to plant an FFA garden cared for by FFA members with produce donated to the local food pantry. In 2018, more than 20,000 pounds of produce was donated.

“This award symbolizes the hard work that individuals have put into ag education to help students realize what their full potential is,” said Taylor. “When you investigate agriculture education, you find it leads students to their passions when they suddenly find that providing a system of food, fiber and protecting our natural resources is viable to them. It excites me to find out that kids have a passion to find those types of careers.”

Nationwide established the Golden Owl Award in 2018 to honor teachers and support them with additional resources to assist their continued educational efforts. Alongside a trophy, Taylor will receive a total of $3,000 to further develop his programs to provide optimal student learning.

“We're proud to recognize Brad Taylor as an outstanding teacher who has dedicated over 40 years of service to agriculture education,” said Brad Liggett, president of agribusiness for Nationwide. “Throughout his career, Brad has inspired the next generation of agricultural leaders while providing for community members in need.”

The Golden Owl Award helps shed light on the importance of agricultural education and the tremendous contributions of teachers. Nationwide aims to bring attention to the growing need for agricultural educators. This effort is the result of a partnership between Nationwide, the Iowa FFA, the Ohio FFA and Ohio Farm Bureau.

Six other finalists received a $500 cash prize to support their continued education efforts. Taylor was the only teacher in Story County to be recognized.