2011 Agriculture Educator of the Year

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - (News Release) - Al Schmidt is the 2011 Agriculture Educator of the Year for his contributions to agriculture in Nacogdoches County spanning more than two decades.

The award is sponsored by Citizens 1st Bank and presented at the 10th Annual Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet.

Schmidt is the District Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service with the USDA. He is responsible for agency operations in Nacogdoches, Shelby, San Augustine and Sabine counties, and he provides assistance to private agricultural landowners on soil, plant, water resource management issues.

"Al is one of the most thoroughly professional individuals and one of the most personable individuals that I have ever worked with," said John Boyette, district forester for the Texas Forest Service and former Ag Educator of the Year. "He is a master of the technical aspects of his profession."

For the past 22 years Schmidt has been involved in the setup and running of various FFA contests for local high school students. Contest events consist of land judging, plant identification and woodland and wildlife contests. The events educate students about the management of agriculture and woodland areas, interpretation of information needed to make management decisions and skills development for use in real resource management scenarios. The events are held on the local level to prepare teams to participate at area and state contest.

"I've been involved in both area and state level Wildlife and Woodland Contests helping with the set up and management of these events," Schmidt said. "I assist with teacher workshops to train ag teachers on working with students the woodland wildlife contest events."

Schmidt participates in local youth education events such as Walk-the-Woods, sponsored by SFA and Texas Forest Service, and the AG-in-the-Classroom sponsored by the Farm Bureau. Each year he makes presentations on soil characteristics and use to inform students of the importance of our soil as a natural resources and presentations to schools the importance of conservation of soil and water resources. He is involved in these events in Nacogdoches, Shelby and Sabine counties.

"When it comes to educational programs, Al is a rock. In all the years that I have been working with him to deliver programs to kids and adults alike, he has always been there, ever ready to teach about conservation of our natural resources," Boyette said.

Schmidt is a 1984 SFASU graduate with a degree in Forestry. He is married to Nola, a science teacher at Nacogdoches High School, and they have three children, Chris, Jennifer and David. He enjoys fishing, hunting and gardening.