Iowa State ag education teacher’s efforts recognized with Golden Owl Award

Group of people standing in a line, holding a large check
Jon Davis, third from left, was named one of seven Golden Owl Award finalists. Presenting the award were (left to right): Kanyon Huntington, Iowa FFA State President; Ann Lebo, Iowa Department of Education director; Jon Davis; Nick McCleish, associate vice president of sales for Nationwide Agribusiness; Melissa Johnson, president of Midwest Insurance; Matthew Eddy, Iowa FFA State Advisor.

AMES, Iowa – What he thought was just a meeting was actually a surprise award presentation in recognition of his teaching efforts.

Jon Davis, assistant teaching professor in Iowa State University’s Department of Agricultural Education and Studies, was named one of seven Golden Owl Award recipients in the state of Iowa during a ceremony Feb. 18.

Davis received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education from Iowa State. He joined the agricultural education and studies department in August 2021, after spending 31 years as a high school agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor.

At Iowa State, he serves on the agricultural education teacher certification committee, supervises student teachers in the field, advises students and teaches courses related to agricultural mechanics application and methods of teaching agriculture.

Outside of his teaching responsibilities, he serves as chairman of the Iowa FFA Association Adult Board and previously served as district vice-president of the Iowa Association of Agricultural Educators.  

“Agriculture is a topic that we teach, but what we truly do is touch the lives of not only the students who we are with, but also the families and the people in our communities, as well,” Davis said.

The award, made possible by the Iowa Department of Education, was presented by representatives of Nationwide and the Iowa FFA Foundation. Davis was one of 166 agriculture teachers in the state nominated for the award. Of those, seven were named finalists and will go on to compete for the grand prize award, which will be announced during the Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference in April. The grand prize winner, named the Agricultural Educator of the Year, will receive the coveted Golden Owl Award trophy and $3,000 to support continued education efforts.

“Jon is truly deserving of this award,” said Mike Retallick, chair of the agricultural education and studies department. “He has had such a tremendous impact on his students and is a great mentor as a long-time high school agriculture teacher and now an agricultural teacher educator. We are so fortunate to have him in our department.”

Davis is the third faculty member in the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies to be named a Golden Owl Award finalist. Robert Martin, professor emeritus, received the honor in 2019. Retallick received it in 2021, then went on to be named that year’s Agricultural Educator of the Year.