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Willmar, Minn., ag teacher wins regional award

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A Willmar Senior High School agriculture teacher has been named 2018 Regional Agricultural Teacher of the Year. Neil Pearson was named Minnesota Agricultural Teacher of the Year earlier this year by the National Association of A...

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Teacher Neil Pearson looks at an engine during the Power Shop course he teaches at Willmar Senior High School. Pearson was named the 2018 State Agriculture Education Teacher of the Year, as well as Regional Agriculture Education Teacher of the Year for the Upper Midwest. (Erica Dischino / Forum News Service)

WILLMAR, Minn. - A Willmar Senior High School agriculture teacher has been named 2018 Regional Agricultural Teacher of the Year.

Neil Pearson was named Minnesota Agricultural Teacher of the Year earlier this year by the National Association of Agricultural Educators.

In November, Pearson and other regional honorees will attend the organization's national convention in November. Minnesota is in Region II, which also includes Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Pearson has taught in Willmar for 25 years. He taught first at Belgrade and Atwater high schools for 10 years.

In an interview last spring, Pearson said he hadn't planned to teach a long time. "I thought I would do a couple years and go back to the farm," he said.

But he found that he enjoyed the students and loved working with them so much he kept teaching. He also still farms with his son.

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Pearson said he was proud of the school's FFA ag mechanics team, which has been state champion eight times. The team was third in the state in the last school year. In one year, his team finished fourth in the nation.

Pearson started his college education at Willmar Junior College, now Ridgewater, and finished his degree at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D.

He teaches in Willmar with two other ag teachers, Kayla and Lance Brune, his daughter and his son-in-law.

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