December 20, 2014

Director of Ag Honors Ag Educator during Governor's Conference on Agriculture

Harold Eckler received the Missouri Agriculture Education Leader Award

(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) – Harold Eckler, agriculture education instructor and principal at North Shelby High School, received high honors during the 45th Missouri Governor's Conference on Agriculture, hosted by Gov. Jay Nixon and the Missouri Department of Agriculture.  During the awards banquet Saturday evening, Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce recognized him with the Missouri Agriculture Education Leader Award in front of hundreds of Missouri producers and agribusiness leaders.

“Focusing on Missouri agriculture’s youth is an essential part of building the future of the industry,” said Director Fordyce. “We depend upon ag educators like Harold Eckler to impart not only his knowledge of, but also his passion for, agriculture. Harold has touched the lives of many young people, and in turn, has made a major impact on the industry.” 

Eckler began his career in agriculture education as a vocational agriculture student/FFA member in the Wellsville-Middletown agriculture program. After graduating with a degree in agricultural education from the University of Missouri, he accepted a position as the Agricultural Education Instructor at North Shelby High School. Eckler and his wife, Mari, raise and manage over 100 head of sheep on their farm outside of Shelbyville.

Eckler has influenced the lives of many youth and adults for over 30 years in Shelby County and across the country. He has sent numerous winning contest teams to both the Missouri State FFA Convention and the National State FFA Convention. He has served as the president of the Missouri Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association, on the board of the National Council for Agriculture Education, chairman of the National Task Force for Teacher Recruitment and president of the National Association of Agricultural Educators, representing over 7,600 members as an official spokesperson.  

Missouri’s Agriculture Education Leader was recognized alongside Legacy Awards in Beef, Soybean, Corn, Pork, Poultry, Forestry, Dairy, Rice and Cotton, the Missouri Farm Innovation Award, the Missouri Agriculture Environmental Steward Award and the Missouri Food Animal Veterinarian Award at the 2014 Missouri’ Governor’s Conference on Agriculture closing banquet.

The conference, which took place at the Lake of the Ozarks, concluded Saturday evening with a special performance by country music band Sawyer Brown. The three-day event included nationally-recognized speakers, in-depth discussions about current issues and an agriculture tradeshow. Special events during the conference included the Taste of AgriMissouri reception and the Friday evening benefit auction supporting programs for youth and young professionals in agriculture.

For more information on the Governor’s Conference on Agriculture and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, visit the Department online at


Note: Photos of the award presentation are available by contacting Sarah Alsager at