The career of John T. Woeste as an adult educator was formed by two enduring ideals. The first was the Jeffersonian philosophy that an enlightened population was the cornerstone of a strong democracy and fulfillment of individual dreams. Public education was viewed as the instrument for "leveling the social, political, and economic playing fields." The second ideal was a sense of social equity. He pleaded guilty to "helping the little fellow" and looking for ways to give people a second chance. He often said, "The professionals have a responsibility to help people see the art of the possible. Then the people determine their own needs." In response to a question from traditional academic quarters about the place of adult education in the academic enterprise, he took up the fight for full faculty status of extension faculty. Revised rules and procedures of the state university system and, subsequently, the University of Florida led to the policy and practice of giving equality to the traditional functions of research, resident instruction, and extension. Criteria for tenure and promotion appropriate to each scholarly function were developed, approved, and implemented.
Of the honors and recognitions Dr. Woeste has received, three hold special meaning for him. The honorary American Farmer degree from the National Future Farmers of America Foundation addressed his commitment to youth serving programs. The Mary Nell Greenwood Award from the American Evaluation Association highlighted his sustained commitment to public accountability. Measurement of programmatic impact was an essential element in the ongoing efforts toward an informed public concerning extension programs. Woeste's USDA Superior Service Award followed years of struggle to develop an agricultural law education program.
Remarks Dr. Woeste, "Through career guidance, encouragement, and support of many and being immensely blessed in family, career, and personal satisfaction, I hope I have been a contributing partner to the development of young educators and an inspiration to youth along the path of a career in adult education. I am thankful for the adult educators in my life and, yes, I would do it all over again!"
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