Skip to content

Perseverance Pays Off


My name is Ashton Bohling from Johnson, Nebraska, and I was a winner of the 2022 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. I started my career as an agriculture education teacher. Through a series of events and years, I eventually became the Skilled and Technical Science instructor at Johnson Brock Schools. Initially, I had very little experience in this area, but I was eager to learn and grow.

The first year I applied for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was during the COVID-19 pandemic. I found that I had extra time and I knew I was starting a program that could use some funding and thought, “Why not?” I applied two more times before my persistence paid off and my program and I were awarded the $50,000 prize.

My students were ecstatic. The prize money was nice, but the media coverage was so great for my program. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools did a phenomenal job informing local news outlets about the award which brought so much attention to my skilled trades program.

As a teacher, I know you are busy being a jack of all trades. You are managing students, equipment, technology and more. But I encourage you to be persistent. Not only is the prize a wonderful award, but I really appreciate the conversations that it sparked within my school and local community. People all over Johnson, Nebraska, were suddenly talking about our program.

Here are some tips that may help you when completing your application:

  • Copy and paste the application in a Google doc, Microsoft Word doc, or other platform. This allowed me to put a lot of thoughts and notes down while extending the application over the Round 1 application timeframe.
  • Type out a list of all the projects and characteristics that make your program excellent and unique. Ask your students to assist you with this list. Once you have your list, review it as you read the application questions to help you formulate your answers.
  • Think about how your program has influenced students who do not normally get attention. Think about those students as you continue through the application.

Keep pushing on. For your school – for your students – for you – for the skilled & technical science community. Perseverance pays off!

So go to and start or continue your application today! Applications are due on Friday, May 5th at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Best regards,
Ashton Bohling
2022 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence Winner