Toby Koehn, Vocational Agriculture teacher at Joseph Charter School, is known for his dedication to his job. Apparently, everyone in the state is familiar with Koehn’s skills as an instructor. His peers have voted him the Outstanding Agriculture Educator for the year.
The Oregon Agriculture Teachers Association described the award as honoring: “National Association of Agricultural Educators members who are at the pinnacle of their profession — those who are conducting the highest quality agricultural education programs. The award recognizes leadership in civic, community, agriculture/agribusiness, and professional activities.”
Koehn’s peers in the Eastern Oregon FFA District nominated the JCS instructor for the award.
“We have a meeting each year and nominate a teacher or program for different areas at the state and national level,” Koehn said. “It’s a competitive process that goes through committee. I got selected that way.” He added that from there, he’s up for a regional award.
Koehn is a 25-year education veteran with 19 years teaching and six in administration – all with a focus on Career Technical Education. He started out in industry, welding, spent time as a diesel mechanic and worked in the woods and on farms and ranches. After realizing that he loved to teach, he went to college and earned a history degree. He spent a year as a long-term substitute Ag teacher in Elgin before being offered the Ag/FFA position, which he accepted, despite the history degree.
“It wasn’t an intentional path, but it’s been a great path,” he said. “I’ve had great people to work with – great colleagues. Ag teaching is a progressive industry. We’re always looking for new and better things and well-spoken and intelligent people to work with, so you’re always pushing the limits, pushing your own boundaries that way.”
Koehn has brought the Vo-Ag program into the future by not only focusing on vocational agriculture, but also extending the program into aviation and manufacturing/engineering technology. In fact, the school is hiring a new Vo-Ag teacher to allow Koehn to focus more energy in those disciplines.
The school is in the process of completing a new building dedicated strictly to the aviation aspect of the program. The program is also currently looking into regional training in the aerospace industry, possibly even working with the Joseph Airport and the new school facility.
Koehn also revealed he’s working to build infrastructure to facilitate having a county-wide air program, which will involve adults and the other school districts as well.
The award means a lot to Koehn. “It’s a huge honor,” he said. “I feel very humbled and privileged.”