From left, Josh Reminton, Derrick Parsons, Marcel Kielkucki, Dawn Mausser, Tim English and Steve Ferreira display the check Mausser earned after she was named a finalist for the Golden Owl Award.

Dawn Mausser, the agricultural education teacher at Beckman Catholic, was named a finalist for the 2019-20 Ag Educator of the Year honor through Nationwide’s Golden Owl Award. Nationwide and the English Insurance Agency presented her with a $500 cash prize and plaque in front of fellow teachers and students. She now has the chance to be crowned Iowa’s Ag Educator of the Year in April and receive $3,000 to help fund future educational efforts.

More than 1,000 teachers in five states were nominated for this award.

“I had no idea,” Mausser said. “There are a ton of good teachers here. I knew something was up, though, when the students all started to look back at me.”

Nationwide established the Golden Owl Award in 2018 to honor contributions of Iowa and Ohio agriculture teachers and the importance of agricultural education for future industry leaders. The 2019-20 Golden Owl Award was expanded to include California, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Nationwide is also investing $5,000 in each participating state’s FFA organization to further support aspiring agriculture professionals. Mausser was the one responsible for initiating many of the ag activities at the Beckman.

“I was asked to come speak to some students,” she said. “I started a sharing agreement between the two schools I worked for. We originally started with 36 students with just juniors and seniors. Now we have significantly more that cover grades seven to 12.”

Thirty-two teachers will be honored with this award. This spring, one finalist from each state will be chosen as a grand-prize winner based on additional review by a selection committee. Each grand-prize winner will receive the Golden Owl Award trophy.

“Farming is in our roots at Nationwide and we’re proud to recognize teachers for their dedication to educating the next generation of agricultural leaders,” Brad Liggett, president of Agribusiness at Nationwide, said. “These talented individuals have a tremendous impact on the students and communities they serve. The nominations highlight the passion and inspiration they impart on their students, fellow teachers and community members.”