Johnson receives Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award

Donelle Johnson (middle left), recipient of the 2013 Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award, is pictured with members of Gary Scharf's family.
Donelle Johnson (middle left), recipient of the 2013 Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award, is pictured with members of Gary Scharf’s family.

The Nebraska FFA Foundation presented Donelle Johnson, Executive Director of the Nebraska FFA Association, with the 2013 Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award at the Nebraska FFA State Convention in early April.

Johnson was nominated by Brennan Costello, past Nebraska FFA State President and current National FFA Central Region Vice President, on behalf of the many officer teams she has advised. Costello describes Johnson as selfless and growth-oriented. He says “Donnie has a talent to bring out the best in people. She has made full use of this talent by selflessly serving students, state officer teams, agriculture educators and other professionals in her position as Nebraska FFA’s Executive Secretary.”

“There is no one more committed to the Nebraska FFA Organization, its students and its advisors,” notes Jill Brown. Brown was a member of the 1999-2000 State FFA Officer team. The first team Johnson worked with at the Nebraska FFA Association. Brown also notes that she “also had the privilege of knowing Gary Scharf and I know he would be truly touched to honor Donnie in this manner.”

The Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award recognized a Nebraska agricultural instructor and FFA advisor for what he or she has done in helping others, specifically in the school and community, outside of agricultural education and FFA. Johnson was presented a plaque and a $500 cash award at the state FFA convention.

The annual FFA Foundation award is named for Gary Scharf, who was a victim of an Omaha mall shooting in December 2007. Scharf grew up on a family farm outside of Curtis, Neb., and worked in the agricultural chemical industry. He made significant contributions to Nebraska’s agricultural and FFA community through his years of service on the Nebraska FFA Foundation Board, including a year as Board president.

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