Ned Stump was the first vocational agriculture teacher at the newly formed Prairie Heights Community School Corporation in 1963, a position he held for 37 years until retiring in 2000. A native of Noble County, Stump graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in Agricultural Education in 1961. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Stump returned to Indiana, accepted the Prairie Heights teaching position and began graduate studies at Purdue, receiving his M.S. in 1965.
The crown jewel of Stump’s educational career was the “land laboratory” that he developed on the 230-acre Prairie Heights School Farm in LaGrange and Steuben counties, judged by many to be the state’s most outstanding outdoor laboratory. Stump used the farm and woodlands to develop numerous environmental and agricultural learning opportunities for students. In addition to the usual crop, livestock, forestry and wildlife management activities, Stump’s students established a full scale community agriculture museum, used timber proceeds to build a community center, and developed and conducted a full curriculum of outdoor safety programs for all 5th through 8th graders. Conservation education was emphasized, as students worked with the Soil Conservation Service to develop a long-range land use plan. For more than 32 years, Stump recorded data daily as an observer for the National Weather Service, with students using the data to work on a number of weather projects.
Stump was active in numerous state and national educational and vocational organizations, and was president of the Indiana Vocational Association (1996) and the Indiana Vocational Agriculture Teachers (1972) and Vice President of the Environmental Education Association of Indiana. He served on the boards of the Indiana FFA Foundation, the National Agricultural Hall of Fame. He has served numerous community organizations, and has been president of the LaGrange County 4-H Association (4 terms), the Stroh Lions Club (2 terms), chairman of the LaGrange County Board of Zoning Appeals, and vice president of the LaGrange County Community Foundation. For 35 years he has served as Oliver Lake Conservation Camp Director and Advisor, and for 42 years he has served in numerous capacities as a teacher, musician and choir member of Apostolic Temple Church.
Stump had an exemplary career in education, and his many honors include: National Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association Outstanding Professional Activities (1973), Honorary State FFA degree (1975), Honorary American Farmer Degree (1976), Indiana Environmental Conservation Teacher of the Year (1983); “Proven Sire” Teacher of Teachers Award
(1990); Prairie Heights Teacher of the Year (1997) and the Holm Award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2000). He received Distinguished Service Awards from both the Indiana FFA Foundation (1991) and the Indiana FFA (1996).