Medina FFA advisor wins ‘Golden Owl’ award for work as ag educator

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 February 2021 at 10:00 am

Todd Eick among 11 finalists for NY agricultural educator of the year

Provided photo: Todd Eick, Medina FFA advisor and agriculture teacher, is shown with some of his students while visiting a fruit orchard. Eick has been named the Golden Owl winner for District 9, which includes about a dozen FFA chapters in Orleans, Genesee, Niagara, Wyoming and Erie counties. He is one of 11 finalists for NY agricultural educator of the year, which will be announced in May at the State FFA Convention.

MEDINA – The school’s FFA advisor has received one of the inaugural “Golden Owl” awards given to top agricultural educators in the state.

Todd Eick won the award for District 9 and is one of 11 finalists for the state-wide award that will be announced during the FFA state convention in May.

The New York FFA Association offered the award for the first time this year to recognize ag educators. Community members, students and the district nominate the honoree.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Todd Eick talks with students in this photo from October 2014. They are inside a new barn built for the FFA program.

“Mr. Eick is such an amazing teacher,” Monica Silversmith, a Medina parent, wrote in her nomination for Eick. “He is compassionate and is such a great leader for these young people. He teaches them the importance of Agriculture. Our young people and children need this so much! He is such a great instructor and for being from such a small school, I don’t think he gets the recognition that he deserves!”

Eick has led the Medina FFA program since 2010. He teaches classes on animal sciences, plant and food sciences, Ag engineering and production, youth leadership, and other introduction courses. He also is the varsity lacrosse coach.

Eick said he appreciates the support for the FFA and agriculture programs from the community, the school district and the students. The Golden Owl award is a nice surprise.

“I’m very humbled and honored,” he said this morning. “It means a lot. As teachers we always wonder how we’re doing. It’s the kids you’re affecting and effecting that matter the most. With FFA, it’s not plows and cows anymore. It’s also beakers and speakers.”

During Eick’s tenure, the FFA program has grown. In 2014, the district used a $25,000 grant to add a “living laboratory” for the FFA with a small barn, pasture and a hydroponic system that produces about 80 pounds of a feed a day.

When people drive down Mustang Drive in recent years, they would often see llamas, sheep, a goat and a calf out munching on grass in the fenced-in pasture.

Eick’s students would tend to the animals and do the farm chores, hauling feed and water. He wanted take students out of the classroom for more direct hands-on learning and less PowerPoint presentations.

Todd Eick leads the Medina FFA in the Parade of Lights in this photo from Nov. 28, 2015. The FFA chapter is a frequent participant in medina’s big parade the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

With the Covid restrictions keeping students off campus after mid-March last year, Eick brought the FFA animals to his home so they would be cared for. This year, with a hybrid schedule and many students fully remote, the animals – 6 alpacas, a llama and about a dozen rabbits – have stayed at the Eick home with Eick doing many of the chores. His son Mason has also been a big help, Eick said.

The Medina FFA in recent years also has hosted a big animal appreciation day with more than 1,000 students stopping by the FFA in the high school. That event has been sidelined due to Covid.

The FFA also has been a part of the Medina Parade of Lights and worked on community projects, including restoring a 13-foot-fish used by the Tourism Department to promote the local fishery. The FFA also has built several little libraries that are placed around the community.

Evie Schultz, a Medina FFA member, was among the nominators who wrote to the state FFA in support of Eick for the award.

“Mr. Eick is an inspiration to our chapter and his wisdom spreads throughout our school district,” she wrote. “I speak for many of my peers when I say that we would not be the people we are today without his guidance, patience, and kind heart.”