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FFA Advisor, David Gibbens, One of Six Teachers Recognized as Finalists for Golden Owl Award

The Nebraska Golden Owl Award recognizes teachers with an outstanding commitment and impact on their students and dedication to agricultural education. Out of many nominations, six finalists were selected. Finalist, David Gibbens, from the West Holt FFA chapter, aims to provide students with as many opportunities to pursue their passions as possible.

Mr. Gibbens grew up on a small, diversified farm near Sargent, Nebraska. He loved agricultural education courses and FFA in high school, and when no opportunities to be in production agriculture were available to him, becoming an agriculture teacher was the clear career option. He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study agricultural education, completed his student teaching, and the rest is history -  Mr. Gibbens is now finishing up his 34th year at West Holt.

One of his favorite parts of agricultural education is getting to be around bright, young minds and then being able to share the things he loves with them. In particular, Mr. Gibbens enjoys sharing his love of range judging with students. He also enjoys the opposite -  helping students find what they love and then driving them to pursue their passions. Additionally, Mr. Gibbens likes to find ways for students who don’t want to do competitions to be involved in FFA, whether that's through community service, serving on a committee, or doing behind-the-scenes work.

Mr. Gibbens credits his drive and motivation for agricultural education to his passionate students. “I’ve got a lot of motivated students. When students want to do well, it just makes you want to put in the extra time and the extra effort to make sure they have everything they need to be successful,” shared Gibbens.

Something that Mr. Gibbens says has helped West Holt FFA is having 12 student teachers during his tenure. Mr. Gibbens credits these student teachers for bringing young ideas into the chapter and keeping the chapter “refreshed.”

Mr. Gibbens’ favorite memories during his time at West Holt include coaching a National Champion Conduct of Chapter Meetings team last year and seeing his own children come through the program and receive their State and American FFA Degrees.

One nominator commented, “As a dedicated educator and advocate for agricultural education, Mr. Gibbens has made significant contributions to the field, positively impacting the lives of countless students and the broader community. His unwavering commitment to excellence, innovation, and the betterment of the agricultural industry makes him an outstanding candidate for this esteemed recognition.”

Advice that Mr. Gibbens would give to future agriculture educators is to find out what you’re good at and start there. Then, you can find out what the kids are interested in and try to become good at some of those things. But, ultimately, Mr. Gibbens says it’s important to remember that you can’t be good at everything, and that’s okay.

Outside the classroom, Mr. Gibbens enjoys golfing, gardening, outdoor activities with his family, and spending time with his dog, Caroline.

He would like to give special thanks to his family, administration, the parents of West Holt FFA members, and the West Holt community.

The Nebraska Golden Owl Award is sponsored by the Nebraska Agriculture Educators Association, the Nebraska FFA Foundation, and Nationwide.