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WIU School of Ag alumnus Riley Hintzsche (left) and WIU School of Ag Director Andy Baker at the School of Ag Banquet in mid-April 2016. Hintzsche is WIU's "Outstanding Beginning Teacher" for the Illinois Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (IACTE) in 2016. He was nominated for the honor by Baker. The plaque in the photo highlights recognition Hintzche received last year from the LaSalle (IL) County Regional Office of Education.
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Ag Education Alum Recognized as WIU's "Outstanding Beginning Teacher" for IACTE

May 9, 2016

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MACOMB, IL — When Riley Hintzsche took the helm of the FFA program in the Streator (IL) Township High School Agriculture Department, he didn't waste any time on setting and working toward his goals to better the program for Streator high school students. After almost two years of teaching and advising the FFA program there, Hintzsche has been able to grow participation in the high school's FFA program by close to 20 students.

In addition, Hintzsche—who graduated from Western with his degree in agricultural education in 2014—has helped his students start a locally grown food effort (a .25 acre garden, in which they are growing food to feed members of the Streator community) and initiate a five-acre hay plot, which provides revenue for the high school's FFA chapter and helps fund educational field trips for students.

For his dedication to student success and his "get-it-done" approach, Hintzsche is WIU's "Outstanding Beginning Teacher" for the Illinois Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (IACTE) in 2016. According to Cindy Dooley, associate dean for education preparation in Western's College of Education and Human Services, Hintzsche was nominated for the honor by WIU School of Agriculture Director Andy Baker.

"Each year, several institution members of the Illinois Association of Colleges of Teacher Education [IACTE] nominate individuals for this 'Outstanding Beginning Teacher Award.' This year was Western's turn to nominate an individual. Dr. Baker nominated Riley for his contributions to the agricultural department and FFA program at Streator Township High School," Dooley said.

In addition to the growth of the FFA chapter at Streator High, Hintzsche said the number of agricultural classes available to students there has also increased since he came on board in the fall of 2014.

"We have three new classes being added this year, which brings my total class load to seven classes I can teach," Hintzsche explained. " Last year, we had one student who was entering the agricultural field upon graduation, and this year, we have five who will graduate and enter the agricultural field. Next year, we will have about eight or nine. So they are definitely seeing the career experiences that agriculture can provide for them."

Hintzsche attributes the growth and interest to the revitalization of the school's FFA program and a change in the teaching and learning approach.

"The FFA opportunities allow for students to get involved, and we have changed our curriculum and it's more modern now. Students love to take part in the hands-on learning activities we have now," he noted. "I think, too, the fact I feel that I have established what I would consider to be a very respectful classroom atmosphere between the students and myself. Students who walk in my classroom know they can be human beings. They can be themselves," Hintzsche added.

"When I was asked to nominate a beginning teacher by Dr. Dooley, I felt I had several qualified candidates to submit; however, one particular individual did stand out from the rest, and that was Mr. Riley Hintzsche," Baker explained. "I knew of Riley even before he was a student at WIU, because he was already involved with our CFFA activities on campus when he was a community college student. I knew then I had to keep a lot of pasture in front of Riley to keep him involved and active."

Baker, who worked with Hintzsche to place him in his student-teacher site, said he did not want to go somewhere convenient. Hintzsche wanted a school setting that would challenge him mentally and physically.

"He was placed at Somonauk-Leland High School [Somonauk, IL], and he selected this site because they were integrating a one-on-one instructional technique with their students using Chrome books. He had a great experience, and he carried his enthusiasm into his position at Streator," Baker added. "If I asked for Riley's assistance for a campus activity, he would be here tonight, no questions asked! I know the students at Streator are very thankful to have a dedicated educator like Riley. He pours his heart and soul into that program, as well as into his students' education. Quite simply, he was an easy nominee to submit."

For more information, contact Baker at (309) 298-1080 or Learn more about the WIU School of Agriculture at

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Communications & Marketing