Dr. James Woodard Named Director of Agricultural Education, FFA Board Chair and National FFA Advisor; Cheryl Zimmerman Named Executive Secretary
INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, Nov. 15, 2019/National FFA Organization) – The National Council for Agricultural Education (The Council) today named Dr. James Woodard the Director of Agricultural Education, FFA Board Chair and National FFA Advisor. Amendments to the National FFA Constitution and Bylaws adopted by the delegates at the 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo stipulated that it is now the responsibility of The Council to appoint this leadership position. Dr. Woodard replaces Dr. Steve Brown, who has served as board chair and national advisor for the past 11 years. Dr. Brown recently retired from his position at the U.S. Department of Education after 39 years of service to the agricultural education profession.
In this role, Dr. Woodard will serve as chairperson of the National FFA Board of Directors, where he will provide oversight for the National FFA Organization. He will advise the National FFA Officers, the board of directors, and the National FFA Delegates and committees on matters of policy, and will help the national officers conduct meetings. In this three-year renewable role, he will co-direct the joint governance committee of the National FFA Organization and the National FFA Foundation Board of Trustees, and serve as an advocate for issues affecting FFA and agricultural education stakeholders.
Dr. Woodard currently serves as superintendent of the Morgan Charter School Systems in Madison, Ga.
His agricultural education and FFA journey began at Nicholls High School in Georgia. He began his collegiate studies as an agriculture major at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and later completed his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education at the University of Georgia. In 2015, Dr. Woodard received his doctorate in education leadership and administration from the University of Georgia.
He has been engaged in many capacities involving agricultural education since 1987, when he began his career as a high school agriculture teacher and FFA advisor in Jeff Davis County, Ga. He has had an impressive career as a leader in career and technical and agricultural education. Most notably, Dr. Woodard served as state director of agricultural education for the Georgia Department of Education from 2000-05, where he served as advisor for the Georgia FFA Association and president of the board of trustees for the Georgia FFA Foundation. He also served on the National FFA Board of Directors and National FFA Board of Trustees from 2002-05.
From 2005-08, he served as state director for Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education in Georgia, where he provided direction for re-engineering career, technical, and agricultural education through the development of Georgia’s Career Pathway System.
As an agricultural education teacher/leader, Dr. Woodard has spent his career in the classroom and in leadership positions providing direction for school systems to expand and improve secondary and postsecondary career and technical educational programming.
“I feel overwhelmed with the magnitude of the responsibility bestowed upon me,” said Dr. Woodard. “I am honored to be named to a position that has the opportunity to influence so many current and future FFA members. My life was changed as a result of the leadership and direction provided by former National FFA Advisors. I appreciate their dedication and will work to continue my personal mission: To make a difference in the lives of students to the same degree my ag teacher made in my life.”
The national board of directors also named Cheryl Zimmerman executive secretary for National FFA. In this role, she will be primarily responsible for issuing charters to state FFA associations as directed by the national board of directors; keeping official board meeting minutes and membership records; tracking the progress of the organization; and overseeing state FFA association reporting to the board. 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, where she provides leadership for more than 250 FFA chapters. She studied agricultural education and agricultural journalism at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
In 2009-10, Zimmerman served as the president for the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education (NASAE) and from 2007-09 served as the NASAE central region vice president. In 2012, she was recognized as the NASAE outstanding executive secretary. Zimmerman is a former Wisconsin agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor, teaching three years before taking on her current position in August 1993. “This is an exciting transition for the National FFA Organization as we align with the new federal charter and the constitutional amendments passed by our delegates,” said Zimmerman. “I am the product of agricultural education and FFA, and I am honored and humbled to be given this leadership role and work with Dr. Woodard as a part of the National FFA Board of Directors, providing direction for the future of the National FFA Organization.” In addition, the national board of directors also named Dr. Jessica Blythe from West Virginia as the second American Association for Agricultural Education member to serve on the national board of directors. She is currently the assistant professor of agricultural and extension education at West Virginia University.
“On behalf of our entire staff at National FFA, I offer our sincere congratulations to Dr. Woodard and Cheryl Zimmerman on their appointments to these prestigious leadership positions,” said National FFA Chief Executive Officer Mark Poeschl. “The scope of these roles impacts all parts of our organization. I also welcome Dr. Blythe to our board of directors. I look forward to working with all of these leaders and am confident that with their counsel and guidance, National FFA will continue to progress and grow.”