Dunkle recognized among top agricultural educators in the nation

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

Emily Dunkle, who teaches at Greenbrier East High School, has been awarded the prestigious “Turn the Key” Award from the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAEE). 

It recognizes top national agricultural educators from across the country, allowing them the opportunity to polish their pedagogical skills on a national stage representing their state. Dunkle will fly to Phoenix this month to accept the award and receive training. 

“I am deeply humbled and privileged to have been chosen as the recipient for this amazing program,” says Dunkle. “Agriculture has always held a special place in my heart, and I am genuinely enthusiastic about advocating for its importance.”

The nationwide shortage of teachers is particularly acute among agricultural educators, according to NAEE, and they hope highlighting success stories will encourage more young people to enter and stay in the profession. 

Dunkle grew up on a small farm in Raleigh County, WV. “My family raised cattle, sheep, quarter horses, and any other animals that I could convince them to let me bring home,” she tells RealWV. 

She spent summers bailing hay, riding horses, and operating tractors as a student, before eventually joining the local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter. That led to earn a degree in Agricultural and Extension Education at WVU. 

“I owe a great deal of credit to my agriculture teachers, parents, and the farm life that surrounded me,” she reflects.  “I aspire to leave a lasting impression on the lives of students, just as they did in mine.”

Dunkle believes that agriculture is increasingly important in the modern world. “With students being 2-3 generations removed from agriculture, it’s crucial to emphasize its significance,’ she adds. Not only in terms of the food supply, but also in terms of larger economic impact. “It provides employment opportunities, generates income, and fosters entrepreneurship. By teaching students about agriculture, we can cultivate future generations of farmers and agricultural professionals who can contribute to food security and economic growth around the world.”

As Dunkle heads to Phoenix representing West Virginia, she won’t be going alone. She’s quick to share the spotlight with all those who make this honor possible, saying, “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my husband, Dylan, my family, my students, who motivate me to constantly expand my knowledge, and my principals and the board of education for consistently providing me with opportunities to grow and excel in my profession.”


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