Statewide teaching honor goes to TTU agriculture professor

Ed Lamberth's work is catching up with him.

For close to 30 years, the agricultural educator has inspired, coached and guided agricultural students and teachers across Tennessee. Colleagues say the Tennessee Technological University professor has had a profound and personal impact on agriculture, affecting a thousand or more members of the FFA, hundreds of Tennessee Tech students, dozens of high school teachers and, perhaps most importantly, several TTU students who decided to follow in Lamberth's steps to become agricultural educators in their own right.

Yet throughout this record of service, the soft-spoken, unassuming professor has ducked attention, studiously avoiding the spotlight while pursuing his vision of agricultural teaching, research and service. That is until last spring when students at Tennessee Tech chose Lamberth as outstanding faculty member in the School of Agriculture.

Now members of the Tennessee Vocational Association have seconded that honor, voting Lamberth Outstanding Postsecondary Instructor of the Year. At the organization's recent statewide conference, Lamberth found himself recognized, honored and holding a plaque bearing his name.

The honors are well-deserved, according to Terry Edgington, a teacher and FFA adviser at Upperman High School who nominated Lamberth for the vocational award.

"Ed deserves recognition for a number of reasons," Edgington says. "For one, for the outstanding communication we have had with the agricultural FFA program in Middle Tennessee, as well as across the state and nation. Ed's worked very closely at all levels of the FFA and he's made substantial contributions at the national level. He also works very, very closely with high school (agriculture) programs in the Upper Cumberland and across the state.

"I know he's very respected by students at Tennessee Tech," Edgington added, "He's done an outstanding job with individuals who have left his program and gone on to teach in Tennessee and in several other states."

Lamberth joined Tennessee Tech's faculty in 1979, after earning his Ed.D. at the University of Kentucky and serving as an education specialist and vocational education coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Education. His efforts at Tennessee Tech have set out to improve agricultural education by focusing on three complementary aims:

Teacher education
Lamberth has organized and helped teach workshops funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Education for teachers ranging across subjects of horticulture, floraculture, forestry, environmental agricultural science, health and safety
Curriculum writing
Lamberth has developed curriculum materials for high school programs in agribusiness, environmental ag science and ag mechanics, and has partnered with other teachers to write ag education curriculum used throughout Tennessee
Career development events for FFA members
Lamberth is the guiding force for a wealth of FFA programs that offer students opportunities to develop their skills in an array of topics, from dairy management to parliamentary procedures.

Lamberth, who speaks in the soft, country tones of Sumner County, says he was "well pleased" to be selected as Tennessee's top post-secondary instructor.

"Honors like this make you feel like somebody really appreciates your accomplishments. It was particularly meaningful because it came from my peers and because this year's recipient of the association's 'Outstanding Young Teacher Award' was an individual who received both bachelor's and master's degrees from Tennessee Tech."

While the attention is nice, Lamberth says the biggest satisfaction he finds in agricultural education is in "seeing the growth and improvement in each individual one works with," and in helping others understand and adapt to the rapid-fire pace of agricultural progress.

"It's amazing to look at the developments that have occurred just over the course of the past few years. It's wonderful to help people see the changes and adjust to them. And, of course, it's not through changing yet."

Agricultural education, Lamberth adds quickly, has something to offer everyone. "It provides opportunities for young people not only to prepare for a career but also to develop as a whole person. Ag education is so practical and so broad -- there's something there for everybody, for all ages, and it has something to teach everyone."

With his many activities in agricultural education, Lamberth has laid a solid foundation for that teaching and personal growth for thousands of individuals, Edgington said.