The recipient of this year’s Ag Educator of the Year award sponsored by Citizens 1st Bank is Cotton George. Mr. George started teaching for Martinsville in the fall of 1972 immediately after graduating from Stephen F. Austin State University with a degree in Ag Education. At this time in Martinsville, there were 10 grades total with two grades sharing each classroom. Cotton taught 7th and 8th grade in the same classroom and was also the coach for physical education. He remembers Martinsville as one of the last Nacogdoches County schools with two grades being taught in each classroom. There were 8 to 10 students per grade, and he’d go from one side of the classroom to the other to teach each respective grade. By the fall of 1975, Martinsville ISD became a 12 grade school and a new building was built consisting of offices, classroom and Home Economics.
In the fall of 1976, the agriculture department moved into their new building. Initially, there were four ag courses offered-Agriculture 1, 2, 3 and 4. These were one year courses each; taught consecutively. After a few years, the number of ag courses Mr. George taught expanded.
The Texas Education Agency changed the agriculture curriculum to semester courses. The introductory ag courses were still offered as prerequisites to the more specialized courses. These specialized courses included, but not limited to, animal science, wildlife, animal nutrition, poultry, horticulture, and ag mechanics. Ag Mechanics, specifically, has brought many students back to Mr. George to offer thanks for the education and lessons he gave them.
The annual county fair has long held the ag mechanics competition. For Mr. George, this event has provided a fun source of competition for his students. It created an environment of friendship, in addition to the rivalry among the students and teachers. Martinsville Agriculture students were able (and still are able) to sell their ag projects at the county fair. He has happy memories competing against all the county schools.
Through the Ag Mechanics program, the students were able to build and repair different types of agriculture equipment for the community. It wasn’t uncommon for the students to repair a bush hog at school during ag class. The students could also be found building gates and hay rings etc. This would not have been possible without the support of the school board as well as Cleon Scarborough and Phil Worsham who were the superintendents during these years.
Mr. George will be honored as Agriculture Educator of the Year at the 18th Annual Agriculture Appreciation & Awareness Banquet presented by TFP Nutrition on April 15, 2019 at the Nacogdoches County Exposition & Civic Center.
To produce the Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet, the Nacogdoches County Chamber partners with the Nacogdoches Economic Development Corp., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Pineywoods Resource Conservation and Development, The Texas Department of Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University, and Texas Forest Service.
Tickets are $25 for each person, or $300 for a table of eight and are available now at the Nacogdoches County Chamber, 2516 North St, and Lone Star Farm & Home Center as well as from event planning committee members. Donations increase the amount of the scholarships given to the recipients at the banquet. For ticket and table reservations, call the Nacogdoches County Chamber, 936-560-5533, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.