Education

Natrona County High School’s Burch Receives Arch Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (April 13, 2011) – Teaching is the only profession Brock Burch ever considered. “I can remember back to as early as second grade telling people I was going to be a teacher; and not just any teacher, but an ‘ag’ teacher,” recalls the 11-year teaching veteran. “I chose this occupation because my dad was a teacher,” he adds. “I had the opportunity to see him interact with his students on a regular basis, inspiring and leading them in directions that would profoundly impact the rest of their lives. I knew I wanted to positively impact children about the world of agriculture, just as my father had been doing for so many years.

“My career as an educator began unofficially when I was about 12 years old. I began to facilitate livestock show camps for 4-H and FFA,” Burch says. “My amateur teaching career also included coaching my first livestock team at 18 and continuing to motivate youth about agriculture through clinics, camps and conversation. I realized as I got older that, yes, I was influenced by my dad to become a teacher, but there was no denying that kids and agriculture were my true passions. There was not a better career path for me.”

Today Burch achieved a milestone in that path. He was among only 10 teachers statewide to receive a 2011 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Arch Coal Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steven F. Leer made the announcement during a presentation ceremony at Carey Junior High School in Cheyenne. Leer was accompanied by Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and Wyoming Education Association (WEA) Executive Director Craig Williams. This is the 11th year the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards have been made in Wyoming.

“Brock Burch considers agriculture to be the backbone of our country,” says Leer. “He also believes there is no better industry or lifestyle and strives to motivate his students and get them excited about agricultural careers.”

A Casper resident, Burch teaches agriculture courses at Natrona County High School in Casper. “I teach every phase of agriculture in my classroom, from mechanics to economics and business relations to animals,” he notes. “I make students get their hands dirty, and I make them clean up. We raise chickens in the shop, so students know what it is to get in the muck and clean a chicken cage and to feed and care for animals.

“I believe in a realistic approach to education,” he adds. “Without hands-on, real life experiences, students will never come to see the true value of the agriculture industry. The experiences I create and facilitate for them now will fuel their futures in agriculture or any other career pathway. My classroom is the place where all students have an opportunity to excel.”

Burch earned an associate degree at Casper College and a bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU), Goodwell. He continues his professional development through the Wyoming Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association (WVATA), for which he serves as president. He chaired a regional Public Policy Committee and served on a Strategic Planning Committee for the National Association of Agriculture Educators (NAAE). Burch attended a National AG-Ed Leaders Summit and was among the first 50 teachers to participate in the National Quality Program Standards (NQPS) project. He also represented Wyoming at a National FFA Handbook Revision meeting. Burch participates in local development workshops at the high school and district levels, recently serving on a district-wide committee to help design programs and facilities for a new high school. He further serves his community through FFA community-betterment initiatives, including a program through which he and his students donate blankets to a children’s hospital and local charities.

Each Teacher Achievement Award recipient receives a distinctive trophy, a classroom plaque and a $3,500 personal, cash award. Nominations of the teachers are made by the public, and selection is made by a blue-ribbon panel of the teachers’ peers, all former recipients of the Arch Coal award.

Longstanding supporters of the program are the Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Education Association, the Wyoming library community, Taco John’s and Loaf ‘N Jug stores.

The Arch Coal Foundation also supports teacher-recognition and grant programs in West Virginia, Utah and Colorado, as well as a number of other education-related causes.

U.S.-based Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) is one of the largest coal producers in the world, with more than 160 million tons of coal sold in 2010. Arch’s national network of mines supplies cleaner-burning, low-sulfur coal to customers on four continents, including U.S. and international power producers and steel manufacturers. Arch’s Wyoming operations – Thunder Basin Coal Company’s Black Thunder and Coal Creek mines and the Arch of Wyoming operations – have a combined workforce of more than 1,800.

Information about each of the 10 current recipients, as well as past recipients, is posted at archteacherawards.com.