Local long-time agriculture teacher now has the "cherry on top" of his career.
Dawson County High School Agriculture teacher Reggie Stowers was inducted into the Georgia Agriculture Education Hall of Fame on Jan. 22 during the Future Farmers of America Farm Career and Community Leader's Center in Covington.
"It gives credibility to a career of 34 plus years," said Stowers. "I can tell you stories about every plaque in my classroom and each kid on those teams, but to me this is the icing on the top of the cake."
Stowers has indeed had a long career in agriculture.
A 1975 Dawson County High School graduate, Stowers held the position of Future Farmers of America Chapter President at the high school his junior and senior years, as well as the state FFA vice president the same two years.
Originally, he wanted to be a veterinarian, but had a change of heart.
"In 1970, I had the opportunity to run for national FFA office. Each state can choose one student and I had the opportunity to run," said Stowers. "I went to the convention and thought: ‘What have I always gotten the most enjoyment out of?' After I ran for the office, I came back and said I just need to do what I enjoy doing - which is teach agriculture."
Stowers has taught at the high school since 1983.
He says it's the students that make the career choice worth it.
"I love to watch the light come on in somebody's eyes," said Stowers. "You can see it when they say, ‘Wow, this is really something that I can do.'"
Stowers says he is now on his second generation of students.
"I have a lot of students now that I taught their parents. Now I get their kids coming through," he said. "We get a lot of kids whose families have agriculture ties to the land around here."
Stowers said it's not about whether or not the students can recite the text books by heart.
"To me, it's not so much that they learn all of the subject matter as that they learn that they are a small part of a big picture," he said. "We're all in this together and if we all just do our little part and it all works out.
"I don't think I've ever turned anybody away. Twenty-four kids used to be the maximum and now I have 34 kids plus in each class," said Stowers.
"Everyone has somewhere they need to be and I try to take every kid where they are. If they give me a little bit of work, hopefully they can be inspired to learn."
The hall of fame induction showcases Stowers' dedication to his students. Teachers must apply for the award after having taught for more than 25 years. Only four retired and one currently-working teacher are chosen each year.
Stowers said he applied last year but was not chosen. This year it came down to two teachers, him and another. The other teacher retired mid-way through the selection process, which allowed the Georgia Vocational Agriculture Teachers' Association committee to choose Stowers as the current and the other as a retired teacher.
He said he wasn't sure if he was ready to retire yet or not.
"[This award] finishes my career off. Whether or not I'll retire now, I don't know. I'm still weighing my options. But it's definitely a good thing to end on."