An Elgin High School agricultural sciences teacher, who is skilled at steering students in the right direction in the classroom and on the road, is being saluted by the FFA.

Daniel Bolen has been selected to receive the Honorary American FFA Degree. Bolen, who is also an Elgin school bus driver, is one of just 51 people in the United States selected for the award this year.

“It is one of the three highest awards bestowed in FFA,” said Union County Commissioner Paul Anderes, who taught agricultural sciences for at least 20 years at La Grande High School, where he was also its FFA adviser.

The Honorary American FFA Degree is awarded to individuals who have provided exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, agricultural education, or FFA. Honorees are teachers who have created high-quality agricultural education programs that inspire and motivate their students to strive for success, according to an FFA news release.

“I am excited and honored. What makes it so special is that I was selected by my colleagues in Eastern Oregon,” said Bolen, who is beginning his sixth year of teaching at Elgin High School and 13th overall.

Bolen will receive his award Nov. 1

during an onstage ceremony at the 2019 National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Elgin School District Superintendent Dianne Greif said Bolen is an excellent teacher, one who encourages students to reach their full potential by participating in programs such as FFA and career technical education, that provide vocational training.

“These programs help students develop skills they need to be successful,” Greif said.

Anderes said Bolen is an innovative educator who has a keen understanding of the needs of his community. He explained that Bolen is adept at determining things like what shop skills students need to develop that will best help their community.

Bolen grew up in Umatilla County and graduated from Umatilla High School, where he was a student FFA leader. He later attended Oregon State University and earned a bachelor of science degree in general agriculture and a master of science in general agriculture.

He joined the Elgin School District in 2014 after teaching agricultural sciences and manufacturing at Colton High School in Clackamas County for five years.

Bolen has long loved FFA because of the educational opportunities it gives students.

“It provides students with hands-on learning opportunities and helps them learn to succeed,” he said.

Bolen wants FFA to help others the way it did him.

“It had a huge influence on my life,” he said.

Bolen has served as a substitute school bus driver in Elgin since joining the school district. He said he enjoys this because it gives him a chance to get to know students beginning in their elementary years. This means that when they come to EHS, their transition is a little easier because they already know one of the teachers, said Bolen, who also drives buses for FFA trips.

Greif said Bolen’s ability and willingness to drive school buses is welcome because Elgin is periodically short of school bus drivers.

Teaching, bus driving and FFA leave Bolen with little spare time but he does not let his responsibilities keep him from his wife, Kim, and their young children, Garrett and Isabella.

“The great thing about FFA is that I can include my family in a lot of things,” he said.

Bolen noted that last weekend he was able to take his family with him to an FFA retreat.

Bolen and his family are well on their way to establishing deep roots in Elgin.

“I love small schools and the educational opportunities they provide,” he said. “I look forward to many more years in Elgin and working in this great community.”

General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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