Fourth Grade Teacher
Pinedale Elementary School, Fresno County
This interview was originally published on CFAITC's blog, "The Fencepost."
How and when did you first learn of Ag in the Classroom?
I first learned about Ag in the Classroom when I was taking agriculture classes in high school. As an FFA member, we would brainstorm ways to introduce agriculture to younger students and our teachers/advisors taught us about Ag in the Classroom.
How long have you been teaching students and why did you choose to become an educator?
I just finished my 13th year of teaching. I chose to become an educator because I had great teachers who had an amazing impact on me, and I wanted to try to do the same thing for my own students.
What is your favorite AITC program/resource/event and why?
It's tough to choose my favorite AITC component. Everything that I have done with my students has been wonderful. We participated in the Specialty Crop Taste Test grant program last year and my students loved it; they looked forward to trying new foods. I had the opportunity to attend the California AITC Conference last year in Del Mar and absolutely loved it. I learned a lot, met great people, and came away with some outstanding resources that I used with my students. The Teacher Resource Guide is also amazing! Additionally, I received a Literacy for Life Grant in 2012 from CFAITC. My grade level partner and I used the funds to purchase class sets of the novel Esperanza Rising that we used to teach students about the different crops grown throughout California, and about the challenges faced by farmers and migrant workers throughout different times in our state's history.
What is the most profound impact that agriculture education/awareness has had on you?
I began learning about agriculture awareness back when I was in seventh grade and took my first agriculture class. Agriculture education impacted me in many positive ways. In high school, I was involved in FFA and gained some amazing experiences and met some wonderful people, all while learning about important things that aren't covered in a traditional curriculum. I feel fortunate that I am able to share the knowledge I have about agriculture with my students year after year. I like having the opportunity to inspire an interest in agriculture within my students.
Has agriculture continued to impact the way you educate students?
Absolutely! I am lucky to teach fourth grade. Our social studies curriculum revolves around California. Agriculture is such an important part of who we are, and I enjoy having the opportunity to bring this information to light. Just this past year, with all of the issues surrounding the drought, it was fascinating to see my students make all kinds of connections as they began to realize the far-reaching impact that our lack of water is having statewide.
Tell us about one person who has most influenced your own education and educational career.
It's impossible to choose just one person. I am lucky to have great parents who stressed the importance and value of education. I have benefitted from some wonderful teachers throughout my education. Now that I am a teacher, I am fortunate to be surrounded by outstanding teachers who inspire and motivate me to do my best every day.
Tell us about a golden teaching moment.
I have been lucky enough to experience so many golden teaching moments throughout my career. During the 2013-2014 school year, my students and I were reading and discussing an article about how the drought is affecting the population of the tri-colored blackbird. The students were making connections left and right and came up with some well-thought-out descriptions of how other areas, people and animals in the state were being affected as well. This was a golden moment because it showed me that they truly understood what I had been teaching them about the drought conditions in our state, and the information they had been learning about with regards to agriculture.
Describe any agriculture-based projects you have been involved in lately.
Last summer, I participated in the EAT Foundation's summer workshop. This is a great way for educators to learn more about agriculture and how to incorporate it into the curriculum. Additionally, as a grade level, we have raised and released trout and salmon for the last three years.
Do you have any advice for other teachers on implementing agriculture into the classroom?
The best advice I have for teachers who want to implement agriculture into their classrooms is to do it! There are amazing resources out there that you can use. Agriculture lends itself to connections across all of the curricular areas.
Why do you believe it is important for our students to be agriculturally literate and aware in today's society?
I think it's important for students to know where we as a society have come from and how. Additionally, I think it's vital that they begin to learn about how much of an impact agriculture has on all areas of our lives. I also think it is important for students to be knowledgeable about the many sides of agricultural topics, so they can make informed decisions. With the various forms of social media that are readily available, I think it is important for students to be able to separate fact from fiction.