Mary Hoffmann serves as the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) representative to the Council. She is an agriculture teacher at Sleepy Eye Public School in Sleepy Eye, MN. Prior to that, she was an agriculture teacher in Wisconsin for 11 years. Mary served as 2017-20 NAAE Region III Vice President. Mary has been a leader in agricultural education on many levels, including with NAAE as a committee member and chair and with the Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators as an officer and committee chair. Her philosophy of education is to help students get a base of agricultural knowledge through hands-on learning and, in the process, gain skills in teamwork, communication, leadership and responsibility. Mary resides in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, with her husband, Dan, and their two daughters, Cassidy and Morgan.
Heath Hornecker serves in the Agriculture Department at Casper College in Casper, WY. He teaches various agriculture courses, including animal science, range management and ecology. Prior to Casper College, Heath taught high school agriculture courses for four years. Heath graduated with his master’s degree from the University of Wyoming, his bachelor’s from Texas Tech University and an associate degree from Casper College. Heath currently serves on the Wyoming FFA Board of Directors and numerous other boards and committees. In his spare time, Heath attends numerous baseball games, ice skating practices and livestock shows. Heath and his wife Jaime have four kids, too many short-legged dogs and a small acreage outside of town.
Dr. Robert Torres Secretary
ACTE AG Ed Division Representative
Dr. Robert “Bobby” Torres was born and raised on a sheep and cattle ranch in northern New Mexico and as a youth, was extensively involved in 4-H and FFA. As a first-generation college student, he graduated from New Mexico State University with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agricultural and Extension Education. He taught school-based agricultural education in Arizona, then later obtained his Ph.D. in Agricultural Education at The Ohio State University. He continues to be involved in production agriculture as a grower of soybean, corn, and alfalfa. Today he is Professor and Department Head of Agricultural Education, Technology & Innovation and holds the Neely Family Endowed Professorship in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona. He currently serves on the Arizona Career and Technical Education Quality Skills Commission and is a member of the Arizona Agricultural Education/FFA Foundation Board of Trustees. Dr. Torres is the Past President of the American Association for Agricultural Education and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Association for Career and Technical Education as the Agriculture Division Vice President. Bobby is married to his wife Sara, a career educator in science education. Together they have four children.
Charles Parker serves as The Council Chair. After graduation from Wasco High School, Charles attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he obtained his BS in Agriculture Science and his teaching credential. He later completed his Master’s in Agricultural Education at Chico State University. In 1980 Charles began what would be 13 years as an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Kingsburg High School. In 1993 Charles joined the state staff in California. Charles served as the North Coast Region Supervisor, the Assistant State FFA Advisor, San Joaquin Region Supervisor and is currently serving as the Program Manager for Agriculture Education & Family and Consumer Sciences and the State FFA Advisor.
Dr. Antoine Alston, a native of Rocky Mount, NC, is professor and associate dean for academic studies in North Carolina A&T State University’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. He received his Bachelor and Master of Science Degrees in Agricultural and Extension Education from NC A&T State University, and Ph.D. in Agricultural and Extension Education from Iowa State University. His work has earned him many honors such as the UNC Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence, Honorary FFA American Degree, the National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Contribution to Agricultural Education Award, George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award from Iowa State University, and the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teacher Fellow Award. Additionally, he was the first African-American to receive a U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Agriculture Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award.
Deron Erickson represents the National Farm and Ranch Business Management Education Association (NFRBMEA) on The Council. He has taught Farm Business Management in West Central Minnesota for 22 years. Deron works with approximately 65 families in his program through MN West Technical College. The NFRBMEA is an organization whose mission is to promote and support farm and ranch management education by providing in-service education to our members and by communicating and cooperating with others. Prior to teaching Farm Business Management, he taught High School Agricultural Education in Morris and Hancock, MN for 12 years.
Dr. Ronda Hamm is passionate about providing enriching science and agriculture experiences for everyone. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Education at Fresno State University. She taught at Clovis East and Sierra High Schools before starting her graduate education. She received her Master of Science and Doctorate degrees in Entomology at Cornell University. Currently, she is the Global Academic Relations Leader for Corteva Agriscience. In this role, she develops and implements strategies and relationships to promote people and innovations for the future of agriculture. She has previously held roles as a Patent Liaison, Six Sigma Project Leader, and Senior Biologist conducting both laboratory and field research in Urban Pest Management and Northern Crops. At Corteva Agriscience she was a founding member of the Corteva Grows Science Outreach program. This program engages employees and inspires students to enter agricultural science careers, empowers teachers to bring agricultural sciences into their classrooms, and engages adults on the importance of the agricultural industry. In the first five years more than a half million people were impacted by the program’s volunteers, numbers that continue to grow.
Val Aarsvold serves as the LEAD – Leadership Executives of Agricultural Education/FFA Development representative to the board. Val joined the Minnesota FFA Foundation as the Executive Director in 2001, following seven years as an agricultural education instructor for the communities of Plainview and Willmar, Minnesota. An active FFA member, she served as the Minnesota State FFA Secretary. In addition to her work with the Minnesota FFA Foundation, she serves as a Governor’s appointee on the Minnesota Foundation for Student Organizations board and as a member of the St. Paul School District’s Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources advisory board. Val resides near Plainview, Minnesota with her husband, Paul. They have five children and two grandchildren.
Dr. Smith is an Associate Professor of Agricultural Education at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Smith teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in Agricultural Education and serves as the Director of Graduate Studies. She is passionate about the preparation of high-quality school-based agriculture teachers and conducts research related to teacher recruitment and retention. Smith is also an advocate for connecting with new and diverse audiences through agricultural and food systems education. Prior to joining the faculty at UM in 2013, Smith served as an Assistant Professor at South Dakota State University and Youth Education Coordinator at the Jefferson Farm and Garden. Smith earned her undergraduate degree (2000) in Agricultural Education at Oklahoma State University. After teaching school- based agricultural education for five years, Smith then completed her Masters (2006) and doctorate (2008) at the University of Missouri.
Dr. Wakefield currently serves as Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Programs, School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences at Alcorn State University. He is a graduate of Fort Valley State University (GA) and Purdue University majoring in Agricultural and Extension Education. He formerly served as national president to the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences and Alpha Tau Alpha Honorary Agriculture Education Organization. He is a recipient of the Honorary American FFA Degree and is a Distinguished Agricultural Alumni of Purdue University.
Prior to her appointment as CEO, Alissa was NAAE Associate Executive Director with lead responsibilities for NAAE’s professional development initiatives, including but not limited to, the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors, Teachers Turn the Key, and eXcellence in Leadership for Retention (XLR8). She also managed most of the NAAE professional staff functions including communications/marketing, meeting planning and membership. A Kentucky native, Alissa earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in agricultural education from the University of Kentucky. Before joining the NAAE staff in July 2006, she taught agriculture for five and one-half years in the Jessamine County Schools in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
Brad Driskill is the Agriculture Program Coordinator for State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri. Brad’s focus when employing innovation in the agriculture program at State Fair Community College (SFCC) is developing technical and soft skills for students that will meet the needs of industry employers. He takes every opportunity to create or expose students to situations they will face in the workplace. With more than 15 years of experience in the seed industry, Brad draws upon his own experiences and the input from an active advisory committee to develop curriculum that arms students with the skills needed to embark upon successful careers.
Catie serves as the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education (NASAE) representative to the Council. She is an Agricultural Education Program Specialist for the New York Agricultural Education Outreach program at Cornell University. Catie is a product of New York agricultural education and FFA, attending one of the state’s largest agricultural education programs located in NYC. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business with a focus in education from the State University of New York at Cobleskill and her master’s degree in agricultural education from the State University of New York at Oswego. Catie has been in her role since August of 2017 and has been actively involved in both NASAE and NAAE programming by serving on committees and conferences, as well as being recognized as an Outstanding New Member of NASAE in 2021.
Jeff Voris teaches agriculture at Halfway High School, in Halfway, Missouri. He earned his Masters in Secondary Administration from William Woods University. Since 1996, Jeff has been an agriculture educator. During his time in the classroom, he has earned the Honorary American FFA Degree, Missouri Outstanding Agriculture Education Teacher, MVATA Distinguished Service Award , Missouri Soil & Water Conservation Society Educator of the Year, and the Honorary Missouri State FFA Degree. He was elected as the NAAE Region IV Vice President at the 2021 NAAE Convention after serving as the NAAE Region IV Secretary. Outside of the classroom, Jeff owns and operates Voris Farms with his father. Voris Farms is a Century Farm focused on commercial cow/calf, forage production, soybean and small grain production. He and his niece also own VOWA Herefords where they enjoy raising and showing Hereford Cattle across the country.
Dr. Travis Park
Director of Ag Ed
National FFA Advisor & Board Chair
Dr. Park is a professor of the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University. He served as the 1992-93 National FFA president and completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in agricultural education from Purdue University in 1996 and 2002. He taught high school agriculture at Tri-County High School in Wolcott, Ind., for nearly six years, where the agriculture program and FFA chapter were recognized for excellence at the state and national levels. In 2005, he earned his doctoral degree in agricultural education from the University of Florida. After graduating, he served as an assistant and associate professor with tenure at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., from 2002 until 2013. In 2013, he relocated to North Carolina State University.
Scott Stump began his career in the classroom, as an agriculture educator in Indiana. He later transitioned to working with the National FFA Organization. From 2007 through 2014, he served as the assistant provost and state director for CTE with the Colorado Community College System. During his CCCS tenure, Stump also served as state FFA advisor, agriculture program director and interim president of Northeastern Junior College. In 2015, Stump was named COO of learning solutions provider Vivayic, Inc. In July 2018, he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the assistant secretary of career, technical and adult education for the U.S. Department of Education, where he served until January. He currently serves as senior advisor with Advance CTE, where he leads and contributes to major initiatives and projects, including Advances CTE’s Postsecondary CTE Leaders Fellowship Program and Advancing the Framework. He also supports their federal advocacy, state policy and technical assistance efforts.
Originally from Vicksburg, Mich., Ball earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and natural resources communications with emphasis on agribusiness management and marketing from Michigan State University. She received her Certified Fund-Raising Manager accreditation from the Indiana University Center of Philanthropy. A former FFA member in high school, Ball served an internship at the National FFA Organization after college, joined the organization as a communications specialist and later was named individual giving manager with the foundation. She is currently the National FFA Foundation president and National FFA Organization chief marketing officer.
Cheryl Zimmerman is the executive secretary for National FFA. Zimmerman has served on the National FFA Board of Directors as a consultant and member since 2016. She currently serves as the Wisconsin FFA executive director. She studied agricultural education and agricultural journalism at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Zimmerman also served as the president for the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education and the central region vice president. Zimmerman is a former Wisconsin agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor.
Melissa Rekeweg is the Managing Director for NCAE and the Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives for the National FFA Organization. Melissa began her career as an agricultural education teacher and moved on to serve as the Indiana FFA Executive Director and the State Director of CTE and the Asst. Director of College and Career Readiness at the Indiana Department of Education. She also served as the Deputy Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Vice President of Crossroads Bank. Melissa has extensive board experience serving on the AgrIInstitute Board of Directors, Purdue University Extension Board and as a trustee for Ivy Tech Community College. At the state level she served on the Indiana Counter Terrorism Task Force, the Indiana Grown Commission, Indiana State Fair Board and Commission, and chaired the Indiana Land Resources Council. Melissa is lifelong advocate for agricultural education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education and a master’s in management and leadership.