OKLAHOMA (OBV) – An Oklahoma teacher received a national CareerTech award for his outstanding work teaching students how to help others through community service.
Robby Branscum, agricultural education teacher and FFA adviser for Stillwater Public Schools, was awarded the Carl Perkins Community Service Award at the ACTE CareerTech Vision conference.
“I am so proud of the work that happens daily in our CTE classrooms and environments where we take education on the move. Mr. Branscum is an extraordinary educator that invests in his students and exemplifies the mission of Oklahoma CareerTech,” said CareerTech State Director Brent Haken. “This award specifically focuses on the power of real hands on experiences that live out the last line of the FFA motto ‘Living to Serve.’ Thank you, Robby Branscum, for making a difference.”
The ACTE honored Branscum for his work connecting student education to community service through a range of projects, including Cans 4 Community 5K Race, the Secret Service Challenge and the Christmas Tractor Tree, according to CareerTech officials.
The Cans 4 Community race entry fee is 20 canned food items. Students collected more than 24,000 nonperishable food items for the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving food baskets over the last six years.
The Christmas Tractor Tree is a charitable gift-pledge tree, like an angel tree, but with tractors on the tree instead of angels.
“We adopt 30 to 40 local students and raise holiday gifts for them,” Branscum said. “This includes clothing, shoes and fun items.”
Branscum, who is in his 11th year of teaching agriculture education, uses the Secret Service Challenge to teach his students the value of serving for a cause instead of applause. The challenge requires them to complete a small assigned service task without teachers figuring out what they are doing. Examples of such tasks include loaning a pencil to a classmate, opening a door for someone or picking up trash off the floor.
The $5 Challenge is Branscum’s favorite program. Each student receives a $5 bill and has to make as much of a difference as they can in their school or community without exceeding the $5 budget. Students baked treats for bus drivers, gave doughnuts and cards to police officers and bought trash bags and gloves and cleaned up local parks, according to Branscum.
“This is to teach students that no one is too poor, busy or insignificant to make a difference,” he said.
Branscum also teaches his students the duties of citizenship.
“The end of the FFA Motto is ‘Living to Serve,’ and our goal is to teach students to use their skills to make a difference in their school or community. Whether that is raising chickens and turkeys in class for local food banks to fight food insecurity or raising flowers to make baskets for teachers, we are having students engage in service learning. This allows them to learn a technical skill while applying it within their community to make a positive difference,” he said.
Branscum’s students achieved top honors at the 96th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis this year. Stillwater FFA was named the 2023 National Model of Excellence Chapter and the 2023 National Premier Chapter: Building Communities. Branscum, Bailey Kliewer and Tanner Nipper serve as chapter advisers.
He is in his 11th year of teaching agricultural education. He taught for three years in Oilton Public Schools before moving to Stillwater.
Branscum is currently a Ph.D. candidate in agricultural education at OSU.