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Illinois State University's ag department wins prestigious 2023 award
Illinois Ag Connection - 11/16/2023

The Department of Agriculture at Illinois State University has been named the Region IV Winner of the National Association of Agricultural Education’s (NAAE) 2023 Outstanding Postsecondary Agriculture Program Award. This prestigious recognition follows the department’s earlier achievement of winning the 2023 Outstanding Program in Illinois award, showcasing its excellence in agricultural education.

Dr. Jay Solomonson, an assistant professor of agricultural education at the university, expressed his gratitude for this dual recognition from both the NAAE and the Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers (IAVAT). He praised the dedicated efforts of the faculty and students in the Department of Agriculture, attributing this national and state-level acclaim to their hard work.

The journey to this national accolade began in spring 2023, with the department’s nomination for the award. After winning at the state level, faculty, staff, and students collaborated to prepare an extensive eight-page application for the national award. This process included gathering supportive materials and securing a recommendation letter. In early August, the department was informed of their selection as the national Region IV Winner.

The award criteria encompassed several key areas, including program overview, mission, curricula, experiential learning, leadership development, partnerships, marketing, and professional growth. This comprehensive evaluation reflects the department’s commitment to providing a well-rounded and effective agricultural education.

Dr. Lucas Maxwell, an associate professor focusing on agriculture education, communication, and leadership, highlighted the significance of preparing future professionals in the agriculture industry. He noted the current worker shortages across various fields, emphasizing the critical role of agricultural education in addressing these challenges. Dr. Maxwell expressed pride in the department’s achievements and gratitude for being part of such esteemed professional organizations.

This accolade underscores Illinois State University Department of Agriculture’s dedication to excellence in educating future leaders in agriculture, contributing significantly to the field and setting a high standard for agricultural education programs nationwide.

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