Lucha is a finalist for the Golden Owl award which honors outstanding teachers in agricultural education.
“Presented by Nationwide Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio FFA, this annual award recognizes Ohio agricultural educators for their tremendous contribution in preparing the next generation of young people for successful careers and futures in agriculture,” said Lauren Corry, Ohio FFA Foundation manager of special projects.
A committee picked finalists out of the 335 nominations.
“The Golden Owl allows us to extend our support to the agricultural educators who spend countless hours and their own resources to impact their students,” said Amanda Kramer, Huron County Ohio Farm Bureau Board secretary.
In its first year, the award honored teachers in Ohio and Iowa. It was then expanded to California, Illinois and Pennsylvania and next year, there are plans to reach more states.
“We would also like to thank Nationwide (Insurance) for its generation donation of $5,000 to the Ohio FFA organization to further support the personal and professional development and growth of our farmers across the state,” Kramer said.
Lucha’s voice cracked as she received an engraved plaque and $500 check. She had the members of FFA stand up and be recognized.
“I may have gotten this (award), but I got this because of you guys,” Lucha said. “I love my job and the reason I love my job is because my students make it easy to be where I am and do what I do. So for that, I’d like to give you guys a round of applause.”
Lucha led the crowd in applauding for the students.
“Thank you because without you I wouldn’t be here — at all. And I appreciate it,” she said.
Lucha also thanked the South Central administration because without their support, the FFA students “wouldn’t get to do and achieve what they do throughout the year — and that’s important.”
Principal Thomas Hellickson said he was “honored to have such an outstanding educator in our building.” He praised Lucha for her positive mindset, “love and passion for her teachers and colleagues,” “steadfast committment” to being the best teacher she can be and her focus on problem-solving.
Rachel Crouse, Trent Insurance Group associate agent, shared comments about Lucha’s nomination.
“This honoree also was called out for her ability to teach students the importance of building good character. She does this by teaching them her own examples of good morals, self esteem and compassion. The honoree also shows her students how to be courageous in times of struggle, just like she showed her courage during her battle with cancer,” Crouse said.
One person who nominated Lucha wrote that “she is like a mother to my children; I am so blessed she has come into our lives.”
Trent Insurance Group, which is based out of Norwalk, has been serving the agricultural education community since 1993.
“As the No. 1 farm insurer in the country, Nationwide supports the future of the ag community through meaningful sponsorships of national and local organizations,” said Benjamin Olewiler, Trent Insurance associate agent. “Like Nationwide, Trent Insurance recognizes ag education as crucial for the future of our ag community and we are proud to support the Ohio FFA and its many members.”
Huron County Sheriff’s Deputy Mitch Cawrse, the South Central school resource officer, has worked with Lucha for several years in the ongoing Bed Battalion project. South Central and New London FFA students have created beds which are donated to Huron County children who don’t have one.
“She is fantastic. She really does put her heart and soul into this and she never says no; she never says no to anything,” Cawrse said.
“Like I said, she will go above and beyond to help anybody,” added the deputy, who said Lucha was enthusiastic about supporting the bed project when he suggested it to her.
“Obviously we ran with it. We have built over 100 beds in a year,” Cawrse said. “We just built 45 on Wednesday; that was our biggest build.”
Corry shared the importance of agricultural education.
“Ohio ag teachers, like Mrs. Lucha, are very valuable and a very committed and dedicated to insuring that the future of agricultural education is bright in Ohio,” she said.
“Agricultural education is important no matter where you are — in Ohio or across the country. It definitely rings true and holds a special place in the hearts of (specifically) rural communities. But it then gives students a chance to share with students outside of their rural communities information about agriculture and how it plays a role in our everyday lives.”