By Emily Bontrager
At the National FFA Convention in November, Daniel Oilar, a well-known teacher in the community, will receive an Honorary American FFA Degree.
According to FFA.org, “Individuals who have provided exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, agricultural education, or FFA are eligible for the Honorary American FFA Degree. Additionally, teachers who have created high-quality agricultural education programs which inspire and motivate their students to strive for success are eligible.”
Daniel Oilar, 46, grew up north of Kahoka on his family farm. He now lives half a mile from where he grew up with his wife Michelle and daughter Madison.
Growing up, Mr. Oilar always wanted to be a farmer, but he eventually decided to pursue a teaching career.
“There wasn’t enough income for both my brother and I to farm, so it seemed like the next logical step. I always enjoyed my FFA class in high school and it dawned on me one day that I wanted to be an Ag teacher, and this will make my 24th year of being an Ag teacher,” Mr. Oilar said.
In high school, Mr. Oilar loved his FFA class and it made a big impact on his life.
“What hooked me in the beginning was it opened my eyes to a bigger world than just here in Clark County,” Mr. Oilar said.
In high school, Mr. Oilar was on the Livestock team, Knowledge team, Parliamentary Procedure team and Meats team. He was also the vice president of the FFA chapter his senior year.
After graduating from high school, Mr. Oilar attended Western Illinois University. He graduated with a Bachelor in Ag Science in 1999 and a Master of Arts in December of 2000.
“I was the first ever Master of Arts in Teaching to graduate in Agriculture from there,” Mr. Oilar said.
“I student taught at Warsaw, Illinois. Then I taught at Nauvoo, Illinois for six and a half years before coming here in 2008.”
Mr. Oilar is one of the FFA advisors and Agriculture teachers who has helped guide FFA students over the years at Clark County. He teaches Ag Science 2, Advanced Crop, Advance Livestock, and Ag Business at the high school. He also teaches Intro to Ag and wood working at the middle school.
He also coaches contest teams for the Clark County FFA Chapter and under his leadership the Forestry, Horse, and Livestock Evaluation teams have gone on to compete at the state level.
In November, Mr. Oilar will be on the National FFA stage to receive his Honorary American Degree. For this achievement, Mr. Oilar will receive a plaque.
“There are 213 people in the nation that receive this this year. Of that, 195 are teachers, so it is in recognition of the fact that you have had a lot of kids be successful,” Mr. Oilar said.
To be considered for the Honorary American FFA Degree, Mr. Oilar had to fill out an application about the activities he has participated in that helped contribute to the success of his students in FFA.
“Basically, it talks about what your classroom and laboratory experiences have been and what your theories of teaching are. It talks about the success the kids have had more than what I have done, I guess. But kind of in the same fact, if you are not coaching the right stuff or doing the right things the kids aren’t going to be as successful,” Mr. Oilar said.
“Not all kids are athletes, not all kids are the next road scholar. We have a lot of success. I’ve had kids that hated school but were good FFA members and participated well and that’s what I hang my hat on at night is how well the kids do.”
Mr. Oilar could have filled out this application previously, but he wanted to wait until his daughter started high school this year. He is pretty excited and happy that he was chosen to receive this recognition on the national level and is proud of all of his student’s hard work over the years.
Over the years, he and Mr. Lemmon, who is the other FFA advisor and Ag teacher, have strived to push their students to succeed. Many students have exceeded their own expectations not only at the area level, but the state and national levels as well.
Since Mr. Oilar started teaching at Clark County in 2008, the Clark County FFA Chapter has had 78 State Degrees, and 37 students have received American FFA Degrees. One student became a State FFA Officer and there have been four Area Officers. Also, 83 students won an Area Proficiency, and six students won a State Proficiency.
The chapter activity has been ranked in the top 30 every year it was submitted, ranking as high as 9th. There have also been three Star Area Farmers, and three Star Area Placements. The Treasurer’s book has won Area 14 times, Secretary book has won 9 times, and the Scrapbook has won four times.
There are also many other achievements that individuals and the chapter have received while being advised and taught by Mr. Oilar and Mr. Lemmon.
Mr. Oilar has been a vital part of the local FFA chapter’s accomplishments, and he will continue to guide students in the future to compete at the area, state, and national FFA competitions.