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8 Best Teachers for Agriculture

Here are the winners of the National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award for 2017

The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Farm Credit announced that eight general education teachers from around the country have been selected as winners of the National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award for 2017.

These kindergarten through 12th grade teachers won the award for the innovative ways they use agricultural concepts to teach core subject areas of reading, writing, math, science, social studies, STEM, and more.

“These teachers exemplify how easily connections to agriculture can be made in classroom instruction,” said Chris Fleming, president of NAITCO. “We honor them for the strides they make in agricultural literacy in their classrooms every day.”

The eight teachers selected for the National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award are:

1. Georgia elementary STEM resource teacher Marla Garnto’s students work with local poultry processor Perdue Farms on a STEM Challenge in which students devise ways to improve efficiencies at the poultry plant.

2. Maine team teachers Stephanie Enaire and Morgan Kerr use agricultural concepts, a school garden, and a classroom embryology project to teach across the curriculum to foster in the minds of their fifth, sixth, and seventh graders a love of the environment and an appreciation of the importance of agriculture.

3. Oklahoma third grade teacher Amber Bales ties Oklahoma agriculture to her language arts, math, science, and social studies instruction by putting a local twist on the story Stone Soup, involving her students in their school’s Farm to School program and planting cabbage and pea plants. 

4. Tennessee science teacher Debra Steen uses growing plants and rearing animals to teach her fourth and fifth graders all the life sciences, including germination, tropism, photosynthesis, animal genetics, and more. 

5. Utah elementary teacher Tiffany Porter implemented a school-wide program involving a greenhouse, aquaponics system, and weather station in which students design irrigation systems, determine the best plants to grow in these systems and the nutrients created from the aquaponics system, among other efforts.

6. Virginia first grade teacher Jessica Pittman uses counting different types of seeds to teach math, a Virginia Ag shapes lesson to teach geometry, and an aeroponic growing system to teach science, among other subject areas.

7. Iowa high school science teacher DeEtta Andersen’s biology and physical science students develop biological buffers to clean a nearby water body, design wind turbines as part of an alternative energy unit, and engineer starch-based plastics as alternatives to oil-based plastics.

8. Kansas high school biology, ecology, and forensic crime science teacher Denise Scribner uses a school wildlife learning site to educate students about 300 varieties of native and cultivated plants, and soil types and profiles. In addition, students in her forensic crime science class learn about the biogeochemical cycle by investigating a mystery involving contaminated soil at a farm.

They will be honored by at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference “Show Me Agriculture,” held June 20-23 at the Sheraton Kansas City Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri. NAITCO is a nonprofit organization representing most of the 50 state Agriculture in the Classroom programs around the country. Its mission is to educate K-12 teachers and students about the importance of agriculture by providing them with web-based materials, workshops, and awards programs that demonstrate how agriculture can be used to effectively teach core subject areas.

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