Miami, Oklahoma – Thursday, June 14, 2012 – Shannon Cunningham, department chair of agriculture for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, (NEO) was recently selected to receive the Honorary State FFA Degree.
This award is given to those who advance agriculture education and the State FFA Organization through outstanding personal commitment. Cunningham was presented with the award in May 2012 at the State FFA Convention in Oklahoma City.
Cunningham has been at NEO for nine years. She earned an associate’s degree from NEO in 2000. She worked toward her bachelor’s degree in animal science at Oklahoma State University and graduated from the institution in 2002. In 2006, Cunningham received a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas, and she is nearing the completion of her Ph. D. in agriculture education at OSU.
Her professional achievements include acting as presenter at Rural Community College Association Conference on undergraduate research at NEO A&M College.
Cunningham assisted in writing and a winning grant for American Quarter Horse Association International Horsemanship Camp.
She coached the 2009, undefeated Horse Judging Team winning the American Paint Horse Association, All American Quarter Horse Congress, American Quarter Horse Association World Show Champion, as well as the 2003, 2004, 2005 American Paint Horse Association and American Quarter Horse Association World Show Champion judging teams.
Cunningham also founded and helps direct the NEO Aggie Alumni and Friends Association.
Her professional and community affiliations include serving as a director for the National Horse Judging Team Coaches’ Association; the National Horse Judging Team Coaches’ Association – Academic All American Coordinator; Oklahoma Agriculture Leadership Program, Class XV, Member; Oklahoma Women In Higher Education – Executive Board member; and Miami Arvest Bank – Board member.
Cunningham’s experience in consulting and training include: Oklahoma Agricultural Delegate for Azerbaijan, National FFA Horse Career Development Event – Superintendent; National FFA Horse Career Development Event – Assistant Superintendent; Horsefest – Clinician; and Missouri State Judging Contest – Clinician.
“I am so honored to receive this recognition. Recipients of the Honorary State FFA Degree are nominated by FFA Agriculture Educators across the state, so I was surprised and humbled that I had been nominated for the award,” Cunningham said. “It truly means more than I can express that these educators across the state feel that my contributions have been important and are worthy of recognition.”
The Honorary State FFA Degree is an opportunity to recognize those who have gone above and beyond to make an extraordinary long-term difference in the lives of students, according to information provided by the FFA Organization’s website.
“In collegiate education we don't do what we do to win awards, but to use our abilities to promote the academic endeavors of others, and I am passionate about promoting education and academic opportunities not only for our own students at NEO, but for FFA members as well,” Cunningham said.
The National FFA Organization leads its 500,823 members in preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. There are 7,358 chapters of the organization in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a more positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success through agriculture education.
Photo caption -- on left: Shannon Cunningham, NEO’s dept. chair of agriculture; and Dr. Jeff Hale, NEO A&M College President pictured with her Honorary State FFA Degree