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FFA Advisor, Doug Babbitt, 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 agriculture education. Out of dozens of nominations, six finalists were selected. Finalist, Doug Babbitt, from the Perkins County chapter, strives to provide students not only with agricultural knowledge but also with life lessons that they can use for the rest of their lives.

Mr. Babbitt did not follow a traditional route to becoming an agricultural educator. He went to college to become a bank loan officer in agricultural economics. After college, Mr. Babbitt worked in entrepreneurship, the restaurant industry, and daycare; and he started a garden center and nursery on his family’s farm. In 2007, realizing that he needed stronger health insurance for his family and recognizing that he enjoyed working with kids, Mr. Babbitt entered the Transition to Teaching program. He began teaching at Perkins County and has now been the agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor at Perkins County for 16 years.

Mr. Babbitt’s work experience prepared him well for a career in agricultural education. “I always tell people I’ve worked in the private sector in almost everything I teach. I’ve worked private sector in animals, nurseries and garden centers, food service, and ag sales,” shared Babbitt.

As an agriculture teacher, Mr. Babbitt prioritizes teaching his students life lessons just as much as he prioritizes teaching them classroom content. Whether students have questions about taxes, financial management, relationship building, or anything else, Mr. Babbitt is happy to assist them however he can.
Positivity is what has best prepared Mr. Babbitt for success in his career. “I think that kids don’t understand how much potential they have. It’s my job to kind of root that out of them and get them to do things they may not be comfortable with and may not think they can do, but I know they can do it,” explained Babbitt.

One thing he is extremely proud of about his chapter is the Katie Rowley and Michael Dreiling Memorial Scholarship. For 10 years, Perkins County FFA gave $3,000 to a new FFA chapter in Nebraska to help them get off the ground. Mr. Babbitt’s students worked hard to make this possible as they organized the selection process, and he feels a strong sense of pride in this work that his chapter completed.

Mr. Babbitt’s nominators for the Golden Owl Award had nothing but high praises to sing. “Mr. Babbitt has a genuine and innate ability to develop deep relationships with his students,” shared one nominator. “Mr. Babbitt has a true passion for FFA, agriculture, and teaching. He is deeply invested in each and every one of his students’ education and future,” shared another.

Mr. Babbitt’s work/life balance philosophy includes taking little moments during the day, like lunch, for himself and not for work. He works to prioritize time with his family over any job-related task. The biggest piece of advice he offers for future agricultural educators is to teach to your passion while supporting students as they find where their passion lies.

Outside the classroom, Mr. Babbitt enjoys cooking, watching sci-fi movies and TV, and playing video games with his wife.

Mr. Babbitt would like to thank his family, co-advisor Seth Burge, administration, students, and the Perkins County community for all of their support and commitment to the success of Perkins County FFA.

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