Lebanon, IN | Certificate of Distinction: 2011
Byron Ernest did not intend to become a teacher when he started at Purdue, but during his sophomore year, Professor Hobe Jones convinced him that he had a talent for educating. He earned his B.S. from Purdue in Agricultural Education and Animal Science as well as an M.S. in Agricultural Education. He has spent the last 25 years in education and is currently working on his Ph.D. from Walden University in Teacher Leadership.
For the past six years Byron has been an agriculture instructor, FFA Advisor, and department head at Lebanon High School. Byron is the first agriculture instructor the school has had since the program was cut from the curriculum in 1963. He restarted the program, established new facilities, and designed an enticing curriculum that encourages students to enroll in Ag classes. He teaches three different Advanced Life Science courses that can also earn students credits from Purdue University. The Advanced Life Science courses appeal to students who would normally not be interested in taking an agriculture class and helps them understand the role of agriculture in our everyday lives. Mr. Ernest has been able to grow the agriculture department to a four-teacher program with 584 students enrolled in Ag classes.
Bryon is a leader in advancing agriculture education into a new dimension of education. He implemented a new state-of-the-art welding shop that uses the same equipment as a technical school welding program. When he was chosen as a Distinguished Fellow of the Lilly Endowment’s Teacher Creativity Grant, it allowed him to improve the Advanced Life Science courses he taught into a model now used by Purdue University. He is now leading the movement to turn conventional classrooms into learning environments that link the latest technology, applications, and tools to traditional content area.
Among his many awards, Byron was named the 2010 Teacher of the Year. He has made it his mission to relay the importance of agriculture education as he travels throughout the state. Additionally he was named a Smithsonian Teacher Ambassador and SMART Exemplary Educator in 2010. He also shares his time and talents with his community as a football and baseball coach, Vice-President of the Lions Club, and member of the Community Vision Committee.