Mary Hoffmann, Sleepy Eye Public Ag. Instructor and FFA Advisor, named KEYC TV’s Golden Apple Award winner

Mary Hoffmann, agricultural teacher and FFA advisor at Sleepy Eye High School, has poured many hours of her own time into shaping her students’ success. The outstanding impact she has created with students has made her the winner of the KEYC and Bethany Lutheran College Golden Apple Award.


This award recognizes the people and programs that make a dramatic difference in education.


Hoffmann has been the agricultural teacher for Sleepy Eye Public School for eight years and in that time has significantly increased the FFA program’s size from when she first started, from 60 active members to 160. The Ag. program enrollment has also increased to having 188 unduplicated students this year, over 70 percent of the student body taking elective Ag. classes.


When asked what she is doing to make such a huge difference Hoffmann responded, “I put my heart and soul into the program, I work hard and I’m at school a lot.”


Hoffmann says she loves her job because every day is different. Most mornings begin in the shop where students weld and create projects out of metal and wood. From there the topic turns to crops and soils where students learn about where their food products come from and the importance of conserving the soil.

Next is a class on small animals where students learn about companion animals, followed by horticulture, where students have the opportunity to learn about types of landscape and indoor plants including how to care for and grow them.


In Ag., students learn how to survive on their own by creating business plans and learning about money management. Finally, the Ag. students learn about unique or alternative animal production toward the end of the day.


Hoffmann’s drive to see her students succeed has not gone unnoticed. Shane Laffen, principal of Sleepy Eye Public School, said Hoffmann stays connected with her students.


“She is definitely very interested in students, their accomplishments, and helping them achieve the potential they want to reach, whether they’re in class or FFA currently or if they’ve been a student and have moved on to college or work,” he said.


In fact, two former students, Brandon Roiger and Elizabeth Johnson, both enrolled in college to become Agricultural Educators, are the students who wrote nominations resulting in her winning KEYC News 12’s Golden Apple Award for her efforts.


When asked what motivates Hoffmann to put in the extra time to produce such a high quality program, she said she sets high expectations of her FFA members and Ag students and hopes that helps lead them to success.

“I want students to reach their full potential and leave my program with the skills to succeed further in school, life and their careers. Having the transferrable skills such as communication, work ethic and teamwork, is really important.”


It’s hard for Hoffmann to take all the credit. She said her students at Sleepy Eye are amazing.


“They want to try new activities, they want to learn new things and they want to serve the community any way they can!”