November 2022

In this issue:

NACTA Featured Member: Maria Boerngen
Highlight: NACTA Teaching Awards
NACTA Judging Conference Contest Listing Announced
FREE Webinar: Crafting Successful USDA Nomination Packets
Upcoming Dates & Deadlines
Welcome New NACTA Members!
Renew or Become a NACTA Member
Invitation to Engage with NC-FEW


NACTA Featured Member: Maria Boerngen

Each month we sit down with a member to highlight their academic and professional career, and to see how they are making the best of their membership in NACTA. This month’s Featured Member is NACTA Central Regional Director Maria Boerngen. 

Maria Boerngen
Professor in Agricultural Education
Illinois State University, Associate Professor of Agribusiness

How long have you been a member of NACTA? 

I joined in 2002 when I was a PhD student. I was a graduate student member, then a regular member so to speak. I became a lifetime member in 2017. I did my graduate work at university of Illinois then I taught at Lake Land College in Mattoon before coming to Illinois State University. Overall I’ve spent 17 years as a faculty member. 

What differences have you noticed in NACTA from your first meeting in 2007 to your most recent in-person meeting in 2016? 

There has been such growth in the organization. Each meeting offers more sessions and more opportunities for networking. There is a lot more going on, more attendees, more sessions, bigger facilities and crowds. I’ve really noticed a bigger development in the organization and its footprint.   

What was it about NACTA that drew you in? What made you think, “I’ve got to come back to this meeting and be part of this organization throughout the year?” 

I have always maintained my membership and tried to stay engaged remotely. My position is 75% teaching so it’s been important and invaluable to me that I could do research on teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning. It didn’t have to be super technical, Ag business research but general agriculture education. NACTA is the home of that type of cross discipline research, which reflects my own current department at Illinois State University. I saw NACTA as a home for that research and home of other people networking and doing that same research  

What are you looking forward to with NACTA? 

I was so sad we had to cancel this year in Ohio. I am looking forward to interacting with colleagues that I haven’t seen in person in so long. Just the opportunity to get together, share meals together and engage in conversation. This group has done a good job staying engaged with each other. I’m looking forward to the social events and the awards dinner. Those opportunities to sit down and talk to colleagues as regular people. At next year’s meeting it will be important to engage newer members who have not had the opportunity to join. Honestly it’s a celebration for everyone as a welcome back.  

What is your most memorable teaching moment? 

When I was at Lake Land College, I taught a technical math class for ag students from all over with all different skill levels. I had a woman in my class who was terrified of this math class but was a fantastic student. When I calculated her grade and shared with her that she made a C, she burst into tears. She was so proud of herself and wanted to set a good example for her kids. For her, that C was worth its weight in gold.  

Tell me about your position on the leadership 

I’m the newly-elected Central Region Director. I’ve been doing outreach to new Central region members and folks on the past due member list. I’ve also been in contact with all the lifetime members in my region with my contact info and opportunities and ways to stay engaged. I’m looking forward to getting together with the other regional directors to discuss what they are doing in their regions and make connections.  

For Central region members, I want them to view me as a resource. I hope they recognize this as their professional home and I’m excited to help them find ways to connect to the ongoing conversation. We are all trying to engage in quality teaching, quality student experiences and share what we are doing in a supporting environment. 

Click Here for the Listing of NACTA Regions!
NACTA Members from the Central Region can reach out to Maria at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In addition to being NACTA's Featured Member this month, Maria Boerngen was also recognized by Illinois State University at their Homecoming football game on October 15th. Maria was named as the Faculty Member of the Game! Congratulations Maria!

NACTA Newsletter Content 2 1Photo provided by J. Marcos Fernandez


NACTA 2023 Teaching Award Nominations Still Being Accepted

N23 Banner

One of the central purposes of NACTA (North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture) is to recognize those individuals whose efforts represent the very best in agricultural higher education. Each year, NACTA offers many opportunities for outstanding educators to be honored. Submissions are still being accepted for each of the 2023 awards, to be given at the annual meeting in Las Cruces, New Mexico next June. 

For information on how to nominate an educator for any of the following awards, please visit our website here. The deadline to submit nominations is February 1, 2023.

Submit a Teaching Award Nomination

Awards Available for Nomination Include:

The deadline to submit nominations is February 1, 2023.

If you have any questions please contact

 Click Here to Take a Look at Last Year's Winners!


NACTA Judging Conference List of Contests Announced

NACTA 2023 Promotional Flyer3

Modesto Junior College is very pleased to be serving as the host of the 2023 NACTA Judging Conference on April 12-15, 2023.  Modesto is a 2-year college located in Modesto, CA, and part of the Yosemite Community College School District.

The judging conference is open to all 2-year and 4-year schools that have institutional NACTA membership. Contests and events will be in and around the Modesto, California area with support from multiple area businesses. Our NACTA crowd will be California Dreamin' about all the local agriculture! The California Central Valley alone produces over 250 crops with a value of about $17 billion per year, contributing an estimated 25 percent of the nation's food.

The listing of contests* for the 2023 Judging Conference is as follows:

  • Ag Business Contest
  • Ag Communication Contest
  • Ag Knowledge Bowl Contest
  • Ag Mechanics Contest
  • Ag Computer Application Contest
  • Crops Contest
  • Dairy Cattle Judging Contest
  • Dairy Management Contest
  • Equine Management Contest
  • Horticulture Contest
  • Livestock Judging Contest
  • Livestock Management Contest
  • Meats Judging Contest
  • Portfolio Contest
  • Research Poster Contest
  • Soils Contest - 2-Year and 4-Year
  • Veterinary Science Contest

*Please note that this listing is subject to change.

Contest rules, hotel group rates, and registration information will be available soon, so please keep an eye on the Judging Conference Website. Registration for the Judging Conference is expected to open on December 1, 2022.

Click Here for More Info


FREE Webinar: Crafting Successful Nomination Packets for USDA Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences Awards

The Academic Programs Section (APS) invites NACTA members on November 14th from 4-5 pm Eastern Standard Time for a webinar on Crafting Successful Nomination Packets for the USDA Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences Awards.  

In preparation for the call for nominations for the USDA Teaching Awards, APS is hosting a webinar to discuss how to apply for and put together a strong nomination packet. Perhaps you’ve been wondering if you should apply or whether you should nominate a colleague for this award. This is your opportunity to learn all about these awards that honor excellence in teaching among early and late career faculty, faculty with split appointments and those with teaching-only assignments.  

The webinar will feature the following speakers: 

  • Nick Fuhrman, University of Georgia, a 2021 National Award Winner  
  • Carolyn Copenheaver of Virginia Tech, a researcher who has studied the impact of these teaching awards on recipients 
  • Suzanne M. Ryan, Virginia Tech, a graduate student with extensive experience in primary education
  • Wendy Fink, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, who has helped to staff these awards for over fifteen years  

 The webinar will highlight the different categories of awards and the criteria by which these are reviewed, discuss the impact of these awards on faculty, provide guidance on how to discuss student impact, and provide encouragement for all who seek to apply or nominate.   

The webinar will be recorded and made available on the APS awards website

Click here to Register!

Upcoming Dates & Deadlines

NACTA 2023 Conference Workshop Abstract Submissions
November 15, 2022. Click here to submit!

Thanksgiving, NACTA Admin Offices Closed
November 24-25, 2022

Call Opens for NACTA 2023 Conference Poster & Oral Abstracts
November 29, 2022


New NACTA Members

NACTA had 8 new members this month. We hope you will join us in welcoming them!

Anna Ball - IL - Central Vanaja Kankarla - FL - Southern Kayla Payne - SD - Central
Michell Roth - OH - Eastern Richard Scholtz - FL - Southern Hannah Shear - OK - Southern
Raymond Thomas - KS - Central Bryan Whittenton - MS - Southern  


Renew or Become a New NACTA Member

NACTA is the largest professional development organization that focuses specifically on the scholarship of teaching and learning in agriculture, food and natural resources.

Need to renew your membership? Want to invite a colleague to join? Want to change your membership status? Visit the membership page here.

We appreciate your NACTA membership!


Invitation to Engage with NC-FEW

If you attended the NC-FEW workshop at the NACTA 2022 virtual conference, this may be of interest. The FEW-Nexus is a powerful framework that is used to describe and aid in addressing complex coupled human-natural systems that underlie the most significant global challenges of our time. Since 2018, the National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW) has been working to support education research on educational programs grounded in the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus (FEW-Nexus). This is an exciting time for NC-FEW! If you are not already involved, the NC-FEW invites NACTA members to explore their new website to stay informed of upcoming opportunities to engage.

With a new leadership team and updated strategic plan, NC-FEW is renewing activities designed to cultivate an emergent, transdisciplinary community of educators and education researchers engaged in FEW-Nexus-focused educational programming and research/evaluation. Through their ongoing support from the National Science Foundation (ECR-EHR Core Research #2242276), this Research Coordination Network (RCN) will continue efforts to catalyze sustained, systemic, and interdisciplinary research on educational efforts focused on the FEW-Nexus. 

The growing NC-FEW community includes individuals from a diverse array of disciplinary backgrounds, including education, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences (FANH) fields. NC-FEW members are advancing education and education research in PK-12, postsecondary, and informal/nonformal educational contexts. NC-FEW hopes that you will join their interdisciplinary community today!

The NC-FEW Leadership Team