FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2023
Contact: Dominique Frascoia
ACTE Announces Minnesota Agriculture Education Instructor as National Award Finalist
ALEXANDRIA, VA—Today, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) announced Pamela Koenen, Agriculture Education Instructor at Alden-Conger Public Schools in Alden, Minnesota, as the 2023 ACTE Region III Teacher of the Year. This award recognizes the finest career and technical education (CTE) teachers at the middle/secondary school level who have demonstrated innovation in the classroom, commitment to their students and dedication to the improvement of CTE in their institutions and communities.
Pamela has been an agricultural education instructor for 32 years, with 31 of those years at Alden-Conger. Currently, the Alden-Conger School District is a preK-12, single-site district with a total student enrollment for 2022-2023 of 466 students. Approximately 61% of our student population is open-enrolled which ranks the district second in the state of Minnesota for the percentage of open enrolled students. Smaller class sizes, greater opportunities in athletics and student organizations, and a safe school environment are some of the reasons students choose the Alden-Conger School. Despite the size, the school maintains a full range of electives and offers several college credits (concurrent courses) in English, math and agriculture.
The towns of Alden and Conger are small, rural communities with populations of 658 and 140 respectively. The agriculture in the area surrounding the communities consists mainly of corn, soybean, swine, and beef production. The economy is based predominantly on agriculture and metals manufacturing. Mayo Clinic Health System, nursing homes and care facilities provide a large number of jobs in the healthcare field. Freeborn County is also home to an ethanol plant, two wind turbine farms and several large solar installations. While crop and livestock production are mainstays for many families in the district, the large percentage of open- enrollment means there are increasingly more students without a direct connection to where their food is grown. The courses that Pamela provides in the agriculture program provide students with a foundation of agricultural knowledge and the opportunity to explore a variety of agricultural industry career options.
Pamela truly believes the most important thing she does as a teacher is provide students with opportunities and encourage them to take advantage of those opportunities. As an educator, she has the ability to challenge her students and help them acquire skills that will be valuable and useful, not only in the classroom, but in life. These skills, including leadership, problem-solving, and decision-making, enable students to turn opportunities into reality and success. Students become more engaged learners when they see the connection between school activities and life experiences.
Koenen is one of five finalists for the 2024 national title. The national winner will be announced at the ACTE Awards Gala, an award presentation recognizing the best CTE educators in the country. The event will take place on November 29, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. The Awards Gala is sponsored by Express Employment Professionals, Goodheart-Willcox, The Army, and Stratasys. For more information about the ACTE Excellence Awards, visit our webpage.
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation’s largest not-for-profit association committed to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. ACTE represents the community of CTE professionals, including educators, administrators, researchers, school counselors, guidance and career development professionals and others at all levels of education. ACTE is committed to excellence in providing advocacy, public awareness and access to resources, professional development and leadership opportunities.