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Morris Area ag program wins national award

From left are FFA Alumni representative David Miller, Morris Area Superintendent Scott Monson, Natasha Mortenson MAHS Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor, and Bob Barton, FFA Alumni President-elect.

Morris Area High School in Morris, Minn. is one of only six agriculture programs nationwide that received the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education Program Award on December 1st at the NAAE annual convention in Las Vegas.

Natasha Mortenson is the agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Morris Area High School. Over her nine years there, she has developed a program that focuses on student learning, meets the learning needs and interests of a diverse classroom, and prepares youth for careers and education after high school. Mortenson teaches a variety of courses, ranging from Animal Science to Exploring Robotics and Electronics. She teaches approximately 240 students in eighth through twelfth grade.

"Natasha demonstrated early in her tenure that she understands what it takes to build a strong agriculture program and FFA chapter," said Mike Coquyt, Morris Area High School principal. "She puts students first, feeling as I do that the key to a positive educational experience is student involvement and student success."

Students at Morris Area High School are highly involved in many areas, including acting as role models and mentors to other students at school, participating in FFA activities, and carrying out Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects. Members of the community act as a strong support system, volunteering as class speakers, contest team coaches, and by providing tours and student jobs. This wide variety of activities has allowed students to find a home in the agriculture program, especially for some students who may have previously struggled to find their places at school.

"I believe that all students have the ability to learn, but that they learn best in a progressive classroom that utilizes a variety of strategies to reach a particular student," Mortenson said.

Each of the six regional Outstanding Middle/Secondary School Program award winners received a plaque, an expense paid trip to attend the NAAE convention in Las Vegas, and a dinner held in their honor during convention. The National FFA Alumni Association sponsors the Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education Program Award as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.