Sleepy Eye’s ag teacher and FFA advisor, Mary Hoffmann, was honored with the National Association of Agricultural Educators Teacher Mentor Award.

Sleepy Eye’s ag teacher and FFA advisor, Mary Hoffmann, received the National Association of Agricultural Educators Teacher Mentor Award, while attending the NAAE annual convention in Las Vegas on Dec. 1. Hoffmann is one of only six individuals nationwide who were recognized with this award at the convention.

The news release from the NAAE described the reasons Hoffmann was chosen for this honor:

“In Hoffmann’s 21 years of teaching, she has been a mentor to many students, student teachers, and colleagues in her community and region. She is always available to assist anyone who needs it and has an open door policy for any of her previous students and peers. She feels that mentoring is a lifelong relationship rather than a one-time conversation.

“Hoffmann has mentored three student teachers in the last four years. She works to help them find a professional balance and rapport with students in the classroom and helps them turn challenges into learning opportunities. Hoffmann has also worked with summer agricultural education interns to help them develop teaching, lesson planning, and classroom management skills. She finds great joy in helping current and future educators find success throughout their careers.

“Mentoring students through FFA is a highlight for Hoffmann. Students develop career and personal skills through their involvement in many different service and leadership activities. Members host a kid’s barn at the county fair, participate in a community adopt-a-senior program, and attend various leadership camps and conventions.

“Since 2007, Sleepy Eye FFA members have earned 28 American and 87 State FFA degrees, and the chapter has had 10 national proficiency finalists and 23 state proficiency winners. These awards commend students who have shown the highest level of commitment and excellence in their Supervised Agriculture Experience—independent projects related to agriculture. Throughout their SAEs, Hoffmann and her student teachers check in with the high school students during the summer to provide guidance and learning opportunities.

“Hoffmann shares her curriculum and ideas by participating in professional associations and activities. She has served on numerous committees and actively shares her resources with other teachers and her mentees. She is always available to brainstorm ideas or give insight on lesson plans and professional development opportunities.”

Lindsey Brown, agriscience teacher and FFA advisor at Mountain Lake Public School, appreciates Hoffmann’s efforts as her mentor. “Hoffmann wants to see agricultural education teachers thrive, and because of this she willingly gives her time and energy to mentor and guide new teachers,” said Brown. “As my mentor, she routinely calls, emails, or visits me to assist me in my weak areas, encourage and challenge me, and be a listening ear for struggles and frustrations. Mary’s goal is to aid me, and all teachers, to be the best we can be.”

While Hoffmann is pleased to be honored, she stressed that her involvement in mentoring teachers is not done for personal recognition. “There is a shortage of ag teachers nationwide,” she said. “All ag teachers need to be mentors for new ag educators—to help them get started and keep them in the profession.”

Hoffmann said NAAE, the national organization that gave the award, is of great benefit to ag teachers like her. “We have our state group, where we share ideas and information with other teachers in Minnesota—and that is helpful. NAAE allows us to connect with other ag teachers from all over the United States, giving us even more opportunities to share ideas and help each other.”

Hoffmann is an active participant in the organization. She said she was elected to her newest position in Las Vegas. Hoffmann will serve as the Region III NAAE Secretary for 2016-17. “My role includes helping to run all of the business sessions at the Region III Conference in Wahpeton, N.D. in June of 2017, as well as the NAAE Conference in Nashville, Tenn. next fall,” she explained.

NAAE is the professional association for agricultural educators. Its mission is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.” The NAAE office is located in Lexington, Ky.