The Nebraska FFA Foundation has awarded Mr. Kurt VanDeWalle, Fillmore Central FFA advisor, with the 2023 Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award.
VanDeWalle, FFA advisor for the Fillmore Central FFA chapter, was nominated for the award with support from business people. Mr. VanDeWalle has taught for over 20 years. He has led efforts to develop the agriculture educators mentoring program, chaired many committees, and served on boards as part of Nebraska Team Ag Ed. He is also a trusted advisor to many in the agriculture education community.
In her nomination, business leader, Brady Jenschke wrote, “Kurt is an ag teacher that truly does not ‘see’ or otherwise realize the incredible transformative investment he has made in future generations of Nebraskans through his leadership and education of others in his ag classroom simply by doing what he does best - showing up for others, being deeply committed to agriculture, and leading with a helping heart. Kurt would simply see himself as doing a very good job, when in fact he has deeply invested in others and is building something that is making a distinct difference in the lives of his students and community that will be felt for decades.”
Mr. VanDeWalle has served his community continuously for fifteen years as a volunteer fireman and EMT, he currently serves as the Chair for Ohiowa EMT’s. He has assisted with fundraising for Ohiowa Days and is on the worship committee and Trustee for the Geneva United Methodist Church. He has also spent hours working to promote Wilber Czech Days and Czech heritage.
The Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award recognizes a Nebraska agriculture teacher or FFA advisor for what he or she has done in helping others, specifically in the school and community outside of agriculture education and FFA. As recipient of the award, VanDeWalle receives a plaque and $500 cash award from the Nebraska FFA Foundation.
“The Foundation Board is honored to present this award to Mr. VanDeWalle. He exemplifies many qualities that defined Gary Scharf’s life – commitment, self-sacrifice, and genuine kindness,” says Stacey Agnew, Executive Director, Nebraska FFA Foundation.
The annual award is named for Gary Scharf, who was a victim of an Omaha mall shooting in December 2007. Scharf grew up on a family farm outside of Curtis, Nebraska and worked in the agricultural chemical industry. He made a significant contribution to Nebraska’s agricultural and FFA community through his years of service on the Nebraska FFA Foundation Board, including a year as Board President in 2002-2003.
About the Nebraska FFA Foundation
The Nebraska FFA Foundation invests in agricultural education and FFA for over 12,000 FFA members and their advisors in Nebraska by growing leaders, building communities, and creating career connections. For more information, visit neffafoundation.org.