West Lafayette, IN | Certificate of Distinction: 2003
Dale Butcher grew up in Purdue’s back door, graduating from Klondike High School in West Lafayette. He received a B.S. in Agriculture from Purdue in 1961, and an M.S. in Agricultural Education in 1967.
From 1961 to 1964 he held sales positions with Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing and Ferry-Morse Seed Co. And then in July 1964 he accepted a position with the Benton Community School Corporation as the agricultural science and business instructor at Benton Central High School, a job he would hold for 38 years until his retirement in June 2002. In that position he found his calling, that of a teacher, and from that position he would make an impact on agriculture and agriculture education through an exemplary record of professional achievement and service to his profession. Since 2002 he has been a partner in Agricultural Education Specialists Consulting, and he serves in the unpaid position as the Executive Director of the Indiana Association of Agricultural Educators.
Butcher didn’t just teach Benton Central agriculture students, but he also helped teach those who would themselves become agriculture teachers. In his 38 years in the classroom, he supervised or co-supervised 41 student teachers and 51 early teaching experience students from Purdue University. In 1972 he helped one of his students found the Benton Central FFA Alumni Machinery Auction that, in the next 30 years, would raise over $75,000 for local agriculture scholarships. During his distinguished career, Butcher served as president of numerous professional organizations including the Benton Education Association, 1971-72; the Indiana Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association, 1974-75; the Indiana FFA Alumni Association, 1989-91; Indiana Partners for Agricultural Education, 1991-94; the Indiana Association of Agricultural Educators, 1999-2000; and the National Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association, 1982-84. In 1982 he was a member of the founding committee of the National Council for Vocational and Technical Education in Agriculture, and would serve on the group’s board of directors from 1991-94.
Butcher has been actively involved in setting the national agenda for agricultural science and business education. He served on a National Academy of Sciences panel that evaluated secondary agricultural education and prepared the National Research Council report, “Understanding Agriculture—New Directions for Education” which resulted in changes in all levels of agricultural education. From 1991-94 he served as Vice President of the Agriculture Division of the American Vocational Association, the highest leadership position in agricultural education.
He has served Mt. Zion United Methodist Church as chairman of the board of trustees. Through his service on the Benton County Fair Board, Butcher worked to organize tours of the local prairie during the fair. He is a member of the Tippecanoe County Historical Association and has been a volunteer for that organization’s Feast of the Hunters’ Moon.
Butcher has been honored numerous times for his achievements at the local, state and national levels. In 1969 he was the Outstanding Young Member of the Indiana Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association. He received an Honorary Indiana FFA Degree in 1979, and the next year the National FFA Association presented him with its Honorary American Farmer Degree. In 1984 the National FFA Association presented him with its Distinguished Service Award. In 1990 he was honored as the Teacher of the Year by the Benton Community Schools and received the Distinguished Teacher Award from Western Illinois University. Purdue’s School of Agriculture bestowed its highest honor on him in 1995 when he was named Distinguished Agricultural Alumnus.
Butcher’s influence on agriculture extends beyond his own record of accomplishments in the field of agricultural education. A former student who called him “my teacher, my mentor and my friend,” said, “His involvement in agriculture education, FFA and the community shines through in his students and their achievements.” And a fellow teacher wrote, “The agriculture teachers in Indiana are better teachers because we have worked with Dale Butcher.”