Melton has been an agriculture teacher for 38 years, and an agriculture teacher at Cannon County High School for 34 of those years. During that time, Melton has mentored over 50 student teachers. Even after his student teachers have become agricultural educators, Melton maintains contact with them and makes sure everything is going well.
He also regularly provides lesson plans, media materials, and gives presentations on agriscience topics at the Tennessee Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association Summer Conference. Some of these presentations have included the unique topics that Melton teaches in his classroom including biodiesel production, worm farming, and canoeing/leadership training. Melton even helped Middle Tennessee State University develop their biodiesel operation and recommended which equipment to buy. MTSU is now making biodiesel with vegetable oil from their cafeterias. Melton's livestock and horticulture classes also hydroponically grow wheat fodder. The food value and protein are much higher than alfalfa, and the greenhouse can produce up to 1,000 pounds of wheat fodder per day.
This is an exciting year for the Cannon County High School's agriculture program. After many years of hard work, the program received $200,000 in grants to develop a livestock learning center at the school. The students will take responsibility for daily operations of the facilities, which include a show ring, kitchen, and 28 animal pens.
"After performing my student teaching under Mr. Melton, I realized that teaching was my true calling," said Shannon Ford, one of Melton's former student teachers. "As I watched him interact with his students, it was evident that a teacher really could make a difference."
"His laid back approach and caring attitude is what draws the young as well as the experienced teachers to him," said Courtney Nichols, former agriculture student and now co-teacher at Cannon County High School.
Each of the six regional Teacher Mentor award winners received a plaque and stipend to attend the NAAE convention in Atlanta. CEV Multimedia sponsors the Teacher Mentor Award. NAAE is the professional association for agricultural educators. Its mission is "professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service." The NAAE office is located in Lexington, Ky.