First Grade and Reading Intervention Teacher
Cedarwood Elementary, Fresno County
How and when did you first learn of Ag in the Classroom?
I first learned about Ag in the Classroom when I was getting my teaching credential almost 12 years ago. Since I was an animal science/production management major before I went into teaching, I was very intrigued and interested how I could bring agriculture into the elementary classroom.
How long have you been teaching students and why did you choose to become an educator?
I'm going on nine exciting years as a first grade classroom and reading intervention teacher. When I started down the college and career path, I had a strong desire to be a high school agriculture teacher, but then I became a 4-H sheep leader where I soon realized that my true desire was to teach young children. I love the idea of helping to make a difference in a child's life. I am passionate about learning and love the excitement that goes on in a young child's mind.
What is your favorite AITC program/resource/event and why?
My favorite resource is the student newspaper "What's Growin' On?" I had the opportunity to use this student newspaper with my reading intervention students this past year and they had a wonderful time reading and learning about the different areas of agriculture in California that were spotlighted. I love that the newspaper is full of bright, colorful pages and fits a variety of reading levels while hitting many important standards that are being taught in the classroom. The students broke up into groups and read the different sections and then shared with others the new information they had learned. It was so great to see the excitement and connection they had about what they were reading. I would encourage more teachers to try implementing this amazing resource in their classrooms.
What is the most profound impact that agriculture education/awareness has had on you?
The most profound impact that I feel agriculture education and awareness has had on me is that it doesn't matter how young or old a person is, how rich or how poor, or even where you are from. Everyone has a connection to agriculture, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear and everything in between. Agriculture affects the world we live in on a daily basis and I feel everyone should be educated about its importance.
Has agriculture continued to impact the way you educate students?
Yes, agriculture has and will continue to impact the way I educate students. I love sharing information with students about where their food and clothing comes from. It is a great way to utilize hands-on activities and expose students to new things right in their own backyards. Teaching agriculture in the classroom provides countless learning opportunities for students while opening their eyes to the number of career opportunities that are available.
Tell us about one person who has most influenced your own education and educational career.
There have been many individuals who have influenced my educational career, but the one who has had the most influence on me as an educator is Susan Henderson-Perry. She was my high school agriculture teacher, FFA advisor, livestock coach, and mentor. She taught me how to win with dignity and lose with grace. She taught me the meaning of teamwork and how there is no "I" in team. With her high expectations, she pushed, coached, and instructed me to be the best that I could be. Because of these experiences, I'm proud to say that I was on a National Livestock Judging Team, earned my American Farmer Degree and have now started raising and breeding my own small herd of Shorthorn cattle. I am so lucky that I am able to share my love for agriculture with my two young girls. I have always admired Susan for her positive attitude, never-give-up mentality, family values, and work ethic. She is always someone I will look up to and strive to model my character after.
Tell us about a golden teaching moment.
A golden teaching moment for me is watching the excitement in a child's eyes when they realize that they can read. It's such an amazing feeling when a child who doesn't have any confidence in their reading ability realizes that they are reading for the first time and enjoying it.
Describe any agriculture-based projects you have been involved in lately.
Currently I am a graduate student at California State University, Fresno, completing my master's degree in education with an emphasis in early childhood education. As part of my final project, I am teaching a series of lessons on agriculture and farming to help motivate reading. I also recently was able to be a part of the writing team for the next issue of "What's Growin' On?" It was very exciting learning about the different aspects of California's agriculture and being able to put it into a fun and informative way for students to learn from.
Why do you believe it is important for our students to be agriculturally literate and aware in today's society?
I feel that it is very important for our students to be of aware of agriculture and how it encompasses all areas of our lives. Agriculture education for our students is critical for the existence of the agriculture industry. Students need to understand how food is produced and what is needed to produce food for the world that we live in.
Do you have any advice for other teachers on implementing agriculture into the classroom?
The advice that I would give teachers wanting to implement agriculture into their classroom is to take it slow and try not to teach too much too fast. There are so many free resources available at your fingertips, so take advantage of as many as you can. Find things that interest you. Once your students see you excited about what you are teaching, they will be excited, too.