FFA National Secretary Layni LeBlanc presents Dave Erickson with an Honorary American FFA degree in November in Indianapolis.

A Sky View teacher has received an Honorary American FFA degree just a month shy of his retirement.

Dave Erickson, an agricultural science and technology instructor at Sky View for the last 31 years, was awarded the honorary degree in front of 66,000 people at the 2019 National FFA Convention and Expo that took place Nov. 1 in Indianapolis.

“It’s a neat honor just to be recognized, that you’re being honored for serving what you love to serve,” Erickson said. “And I hope that just filters down towards where kids are inspired to jump up and excel themselves.”

The Honorary American FFA Degree is awarded to individuals who have gone above and beyond to serve to agriculture, and teachers who have created exceptional agriculture programs to motivate and inspire students.

Erickson has served on multiple FFA boards, but according to Clinton Aston, a fellow agricultural science teacher at Sky View, it was Erickson’s commitment to agriculture and the kids he taught that made his career remarkable.

“His passion for agriculture and his passion for kids is who he is,” Aston said. “He’s made an impact not just locally but all over.”

According to Erickson, his first connection to the FFA program happened when Clark Israelsen, a former agriculture science teacher at Sky View, visited him at his home and shared with him the FFA motto of "learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live, living to serve."

“I was so impressed with that that I got heavily involved in high school in the FFA,” Erickson said. “I wanted to learn all aspects of it, trying to make some weaknesses that I had stronger.”

Coincidentally, Erickson taught agriculture in the same room where he once took classes from Israelsen all those years ago.

“He was just a keen learner right from the beginning,” Israelsen said. “He’s just progressive, forward-thinking and interacts well with people … I think he’s very deserving of any recognition that would come.”

After his retirement Dec. 31, Erickson plans to continue working on his 300-acre farm just north of Smithfield and serving on the County Council as the North District representative, in addition to pursuing new interests.

“I’ve never had a problem keeping busy,” Erickson said. “It’s good to keep fresh.”

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