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Oklahoma teacher wins national CareerTech community service award

Friday, December 08, 2023

Robby Branscum, agricultural education teacher and FFA adviser for Stillwater Public Schools, received the national Carl Perkins Community Service Award at the ACTE CareerTech Vision conference.

The Carl Perkins Community Service Award recognizes teachers with significant accomplishments and outstanding leadership in programs and activities that promote community involvement.

“I am so proud of the work that happens daily in our CTE classrooms and environments where we take education on the move. Mr. Branscum is an extraordinary educator that invests in his students and exemplifies the mission of Oklahoma CareerTech,” said CareerTech State Director Brent Haken. “This award specifically focuses on the power of real hands on experiences that live out the last line of the FFA motto ‘Living to Serve.’ Thank you, Robby Branscum, for making a difference.

Branscum has helps students connect their education to community service through projects like the Cans 4 Community 5K Race, the Secret Service Challenge and the Christmas Tractor Tree.

The entry fee for the Cans 4 Community race is 20 canned food items, Branscum said. Students have collected more than 24,000 nonperishable food items for the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving food baskets during the last six years through the Cans 4 Community race, he added.

Students help others give back at Christmas through the Christmas Tractor Tree. It is similar to an angel tree, but the angels are replaced with tractors.

“We adopt 30 to 40 local students and raise holiday gifts for them,” Branscum said. “This includes clothing, shoes and fun items.”

Branscum’s junior high students learn to “serve for a cause, not an applause,” he said, through the Secret Service Challenge. It requires them to complete a small assigned service task -- loaning a pencil to a classmate, opening a door for someone, picking up trash off the floor -- without teachers figuring out what they are doing.

Branscum said his favorite program is the $5 Challenge, however. Students get a $5 bill and must make the biggest difference they can in their school or community -- without going over the $5 budget.

Students have baked treats for bus drivers, given doughnuts and cards to police officers and bought trash bags and gloves and cleaned up local parks, Branscum said.

“This is to teach students that no one is too poor, busy or insignificant to make a difference,” he said.

Branscum has also worked to help students realize a duty of citizenship while at school.

“The end of the FFA Motto is ‘Living to Serve,’ and our goal is to teach students to use their skills to make a difference in their school or community. Whether that is raising chickens and turkeys in class for local food banks to fight food insecurity or raising flowers to make baskets for teachers, we are having students engage in service learning. This allows them to learn a technical skill while applying it within their community to make a positive difference,” he said.

Branscum’s students also won top honors at the 96th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis this year. Stillwater FFA was named the 2023 National Model of Excellence Chapter and the 2023 National Premier Chapter: Building Communities. Branscum is an adviser for the chapter, along with Bailey Kliewer and Tanner Nipper.

Branscum is in his 11th year of teaching agricultural education. He taught for three years in Oilton Public Schools before moving to Stillwater.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Oklahoma State University in 2013 and a master’s degree in school administration from Southern Nazarene University in 2015. He is a Ph.D. candidate in agricultural education at OSU.


Oklahoma CareerTech: Education that works for you

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 60 campuses, 397 PK-12 school districts, 16 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult education and family literacy providers.

The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.

Last Modified on Dec 08, 2023
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