The son of junior high school teachers, it was only natural that John Tummons would eventually find himself in a classroom setting, empowering and equipping students to make a positive impact throughout the world. Tummons knew where he wanted to make that impact, too.
Tummons earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from the University of Missouri, and it was while he was working toward his degree that he made a decision – he wanted to return to his alma mater as a professor.
Now, 20 years later, Tummons is being honored on a national stage for his devotion to teaching at MU. Tummons received the teaching and student engagement (TSE) United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Agriculture Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award on Sunday, Nov. 10. Tummons is one of two teachers who received the honor this year – and just the seventh MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) professor to win a USDA teaching award.
“I’m really humbled and flattered by the award and thankful to the people who nominated me for it,” Tummons said. “It’s just an honor to represent CAFNR and show how service is really important to our college and to MU. To know that people appreciate what I do – it’s definitely a great feeling.”
Tummons received his award during the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) in San Diego, California.“I feel extremely lucky to work with the students who we have here. I would honestly describe our department as a utopia. I know that may sound funny to say, but we work so well together and really have the same goals when it comes to educating students. We’re building students up and that draws great students. I honestly don’t think there are better students on this campus than in CAFNR.”
Tummons, an assistant teaching professor and director of undergraduate studies for agricultural education and leadership, joined the Division of Applied Social Sciences in MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) in 2009 as an instructor. He became an assistant teaching professor in 2015.
Along with his bachelor’s degree, Tummons received his master’s degree and PhD in agricultural education at MU.
“The division is happy for Dr. Tummons receiving this USDA Teaching Award,” said Joe Parcell, director, Division of Applied Social Sciences. “His commitment to learning, mentoring and advising is on display every minute of the day. Students wanting to someday be teachers themselves learn from the most decorated teachers in the country at Mizzou. Dr. Tummons adds to the rich tradition of teaching excellence within the agricultural education and leadership program.”
Tummons attended high school in southwest Missouri and was involved in numerous extracurricular activities, including FFA. His involvement in FFA allowed him to gain valuable experiences, including an opportunity to talk with multiple advisors. After finishing his bachelor’s degree at MU, Tummons become one of those FFA advisors. He served as an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at two high schools in Missouri, while also working on his master’s degree.
Now, Tummons has the opportunity to educate and prepare future agriculture teachers.
“I attended the National FFA Convention recently, and it was like a big family reunion,” Tummons said. “I have around 130 former students who are high school teachers now, and it’s always exciting to interact with them as they educate the next generation of agriculture professionals. Being a part of their journey is pretty special.”
Tummons teaches two, large service-oriented courses: Introduction to Leadership (AEL 2250) and Team & Organizational Leadership (AEL 2260). He also manages the secondary agriculture teacher preparation program at Mizzou. He earned the Outstanding Teaching Award, Early Career from CAFNR in 2015 and the Professor of the Year, Mizzou Athletics in 2013.
“As an academic dean and a teacher educator myself, I view Dr. Tummons in the top 1 percent of all faculty members I’ve had the pleasure to engage with, in his technical excellence and innovative classroom teaching methods,” said Bryan Garton, senior associate dean and director of academic programs. “His student instruction ratings are consistently high, and well above average for the department and college, throughout his teaching career. To punctuate the high assessment scores, Dr. Tummons has won numerous teaching and advising awards at the college and campus levels.”
Along with his teaching duties, Tummons also has several service programs that he is a part of. As director of undergraduate studies and advisor chair, he works with approximately 80 undergraduate students within the department. Tummons is the Mizzou representative for Joint State Staff in Agricultural Education, a program that prepares public school teachers. He is also involved in teacher recruitment throughout the state, as well as serving as the CAFNR recruitment committee chair.
“We are thrilled to have another CAFNR professor earn a USDA teaching award, and Dr. Tummons is incredibly deserving of this recognition,” CAFNR Vice Chancellor and Dean Christopher Daubert said. “He creates and delivers strong curricula and ideas, and works hard to challenge each student he encounters. CAFNR is very fortunate to have Dr. Tummons, who is preparing our students to have a positive impact on the world.”
“I feel extremely lucky to work with the students who we have here,” Tummons added. “I would honestly describe our department as a utopia. I know that may sound funny to say, but we work so well together and really have the same goals when it comes to educating students. We’re building students up and that draws great students. I honestly don’t think there are better students on this campus than in CAFNR.”