Nationwide honors Ohio’s Ag Educator of the Year, opens 2021-2022 search

Educators serve a critical role in preparing future generations for success. They also devote immeasurable time, and often their own resources, to help students pursue their passions. As the number one insurer of farms and ranches in the United States, Nationwide recently recognized 10 Ohio teachers as finalists for the 2020-2021 Golden Owl Award. In partnership with Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio FFA, AgCredit and Farm Credit Mid-America, Nationwide recognized Don Hammersmith at Ayersville High School as Ohio’s 2020-2021 Ag Educator of the Year. 

“As a company with deep roots in agriculture, we recognize the essential role agricultural teachers play in their communities and for the future of the industry,” said Brad Liggett, president of Agribusiness at Nationwide. “We’re proud to recognize the incredible work of teachers like Don Hammersmith to make a difference for their students and communities.”

Hammersmith was formally recognized as the Golden Owl Award grand prize winner during the Ohio FFA State Convention. In addition to the title of Ohio’s Ag Educator of the Year, Hammersmith received the coveted Golden Owl Award trophy and Ayersville High School received a $3,000 Nationwide-funded award to further its agricultural education efforts. 

Hammersmith’s nominations described him as humble, dedicated, and selfless. One nomination read, “He works tirelessly to provide opportunities for his students to succeed in whatever path they choose.” Another one states, “Since he took over the program nearly 30 years ago, he has been able to produce dozens of State degree winners as well as dozens of National degree winners through FFA. Our students benefit greatly from Mr. Hammersmith’s program. He is a true educator and is vital in our small community’s lifeblood.”

 Nationwide launched the Golden Owl Award in 2018-2019 in Iowa and Ohio before expanding the program to recognize leading educators across seven states: California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.   

Nominations for the 2021-2022 Golden Owl Award are now underway and will close in Ohio on December 31, 2021. Following the nomination period, a selection committee will determine 10 state finalists, who will receive an individualized plaque and $500 to support their school’s agriculture programs. A state finalist will then be chosen as Ohio’s Golden Owl Award winner and receive the coveted Golden Owl Award and an additional $3,000 Nationwide-funded contribution to their program. To nominate a teacher or learn more about the Golden Owl Award, visit  

“Each year, we receive hundreds of heartwarming nominations describing the incredible impacts agricultural teachers are making in their communities,” Liggett said. “We’re excited to honor more deserving teachers in 2022 and encourage students, parents, fellow teachers and others to nominate their favorite agricultural teachers today.”

In conjunction with the Golden Owl Award, Nationwide is donating $5,000 to each participating state’s FFA, including the Ohio FFA, to further support the personal and professional growth of students, teachers and advisors alike.  

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