Union High School’s agricultural science and technology program is on the rise. And the National Association of Agricultural Educators is taking note.

The organization has named Union High School’s agriculture program for grades 8-12 the best in its 11-state Region 1 for 2019. Region 1 is composed of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

“This is amazing and exciting,” said Chelcee Mansfield, Union High School’s agricultural science and technology teacher the past six years. “It says a lot about the school, the community and the students.”

This is the second major award Union’s agricultural program has received over the past 13 months. In July of 2018 it was named the best in the state by the Oregon Agriculture Teacher’s Association. Mansfield said the 2018 honor put UHS in position to win this year’s award.

“It is quite an honor. It is a reflection of the remarkable amount of work Chelcee and her students have put in,” said Union School District Superintendent Carter Wells.

Mansfield also gives credit to people like Dennis Clark, who taught agricultural science at UHS from 1983 to 2013, with laying the foundation for the success of the program.

“He helped build the tradition,” Mansfield said.

Clark, who is now retired and lives in Yreka, California, said Mansfield is very good at applying scientific principles to day-to-day work in agriculture. This helps get students excited about science and agricultural concepts.

The retired educator also said that Mansfield is very personable and easily connects with students.

“Students are very loyal to her,” said Clark, who has taught at UHS since retiring and now substitutes at Etna High School in Northern California.

Mansfield, who grew up in Enterprise and is a 2010 Oregon State University graduate, recently was hired as the new agricultural science teacher at Joseph High School. Mansfield said she made the move because she has many family members in Wallowa County whom she wants to be near while raising her young family.

Mansfield also served as the adviser of UHS’s FFA chapter. Between 110 and 120 of Union’s high school students are in FFA, and about 90% of the school’s students take classes in the agricultural sciences program each year. The program offers classes that cover agriculture business management, agriculture careers, animal and plant anatomy and reproduction, and welding.

Union High School will be formally recognized for its award at the National Association of Agricultural Educators convention to be held Dec. 3-7 in Anaheim, California.