Frostburg Student Canyon Lohnas Recognized by NEA

Frostburg State University (FSU) senior Canyon Lohnas was recently recognized as a part of the National Education Association’s (NEA) “30 Under 30” initiative that highlights young educators demonstrating leadership and advocacy in their professional work. Lohnas was featured as part of a 2017 class distinguished as “Young Educators Who Are Already Creating Change,” and was the only undergraduate student among the dozens of young education advocates featured in this year’s NEA recognition.

That Lohnas would receive national recognition for his work in leadership and advocacy came as no surprise to an FSU campus where the Early Childhood and Elementary Education major has compiled a long list of student leadership experience and recognition. Currently, Lohnas serves as the president of the Frostburg Student Education Association (FSEA), an active student organization within the FSU College of Education that engages in “professional development, service learning, and political activism.”

On the FSU campus, Lohnas has distinguished himself through his commitment to increasing the impact and engagement of the FSEA. Specifically, he has brought focused leadership to his mission of strengthening programs for aspiring educators at Maryland universities through the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA). MSEA is the state’s NEA affiliate, and Lohnas has worked with their leadership and the local NEA organization, the Allegany County Education Association (ACEA), to reorganize and reinvigorate the state program for college MSEA chapters.

Ultimately, Lohnas says that his goal is to see a student leadership board at the state level to support and oversee these collegiate chapters. In this effort, FSEA hosted a conference on the Frostburg campus to bring together interested and concerned parties from across the state to hear a presentation from Ashley Muscarella, NEA’s Student Programming Chair. Dr. Barbara Ornstein, FSEA’s faculty advisor, said of Lohnas’ being distinguished for this leadership, “I am extremely proud of Canyon being included in NEA’s ‘30 Under 30.’  He is an exemplary student, intern, and leader, whose dedication, energy, and passion for teaching make him a model for others.  I am certain that he will make a difference, not only in children’s lives, but within the education profession.”

The senior’s long history of student leadership on campus has earned him a number of the institution’s highest awards for students. As a sophomore in 2016, he was awarded the FSU Emerging Leader Award, given to an underclassman that exemplifies strong leadership early in their college career. In the spring of 2017, Lohnas received the Father Ed Hendricks Award, named in honor of a former Catholic Chaplain at the university and given to a student leader that demonstrates “a genuine concern for the well-being of others,” and “compassion and commitment to the campus community.” In addition, Lohnas was recognized as one of the twelve members of the 2017-2018 FSU President’s Leadership Circle.

In addition to his leadership in his extracurricular service, Lohnas also has served the university for four years as a student assistant in the FSU Office of Student Affairs. Among the campus leaders he has impressed with his service to the university community is FSU Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Tom Bowling. Speaking on Lohnas’ latest recognition, Bowling said, “Canyon Lohnas embodies the ‘heart, spirit, and determination’ that characterize those being recognized by the NEA.  He has been a leader, both in and out of the classroom, since he set foot on campus.  Canyon’s strong belief in the power of education, his passion for making a difference in the lives of children, and his commitment to the community are evident in all that he does.”

Speaking to The Bottom Line about being featured by the NEA as a part of this elite class of education advocates, Lohnas said, “I am honored to be associated with such a fantastic group of young educators, and I look forward to using what I have learned from FSEA and the NEA student program in my future career as a teacher.”

The fact that Lohnas’ recognition was bestowed by the NEA is of no small significance. The National Education Association is the largest professional employee organization in the United States, with 3 million members and affiliate organizations in over 14,000 communities. As the only current undergraduate student featured in the 2017 class of future education advocates, Lohnas has set himself apart at the highest level with his leadership and his service.

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