By Xiomara Levsen
The Iowa Association of Ag Educators as a part of career and technical education holds an awards program every year in June. Top agriculture programs in the state are recognized and an award is given for an administrator.
This June West Liberty High School Principal Administrator Brenda Arthur-Miller will receive the “Administrator of the Year” award.
West Liberty High School Ag Teacher and FFA advisor Zach Morris nominated her.
“I just thought she was really, really deserving so I filled it out,” he said.
Arthur-Miller found out she was selected from Morris and the West Liberty Board of Education was told about her award in April.
Arthur-Miller has agricultural ties herself. She grew up on a farm, which is why she wanted her son to be involved.
“It’s really beneficial for the kids,” Artur-Miller said. “As service oriented as FFA is I think that is key.”
Arthur-Miller was also named “an honorary member” of the West Liberty FFA during their banquet last week.
She has noticed there are a lot of students involved in the FFA program that don’t live on farms.
“That’s true of my own kid,” Arthur-Miller said. “We live in town but he was able to take a bucket calf to the fair a few years. We never would have that opportunity if we didn’t have such a strong FFA and all the connections Zach has.”
The support she has given the agriculture program has helped its advisors grow, Morris said. Miller has helped them find funding to get certified in courses so they could be offered to students.
“Not every program has that,” he said. “I think that’s why the award is a huge deal because I’m the president of the organization this year but every program has a lot of moving parts.”
There is the fundraising, teaching and coordination for the agriculture program in the school district, but this has to be done for the FFA program as well, Morris said.
“Professionally having that support through all those things allows us to grow,” he said.
Morris said administrators don’t get enough credit for the good things happening behind the scenes like the FFA program. He is happy Miller was selected for this award. Morris submitted the nomination in December. One category asked was how has your principal helped shape and improve your agriculture program.
“During her time, we returned to a second agriculture teacher when we hired Elyse Buysse and then we basically we hired a third FFA advisor for the program, which is Michelle McMichael.”
College credit courses were added for students as an option to take.
“We added that whole food science track,” Arthur-Miller said.
When there was a nationwide shutdown in the spring of 2020, the FFA greenhouse had plants in it. Miller had to work with school administration, faculty and the student who was the greenhouse manager to coordinate the plant sale.
Miller also works with the FFA students.
“She’s helped with practices,” Morris said. “She’s given feedback to teams. She’s helped chaperone.”
Miller has also attended the sub-state district competition, state competition and the National FFA competition, he added.