Empire State of Agriculture: Nebraska teachers attend national conference
With support from Lancaster County Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation hosted five Nebraska teachers and volunteers at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, “Empire State of Agriculture,” June 29 through July 1 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Educators from across the country attended to explore how to use agriculture to enhance classroom learning. The conference included keynote speakers, workshops, and tours of agricultural operations and businesses.
Diane Starns, a kindergarten teacher at Ashland-Greenwood Elementary in Saunders County, received an all-expense paid trip to the conference as the recipient of the 2022 Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year award.
“The conference was a great opportunity for me to learn even more about the different ways I can incorporate agriculture into my classroom and the school,” said Starns. “I am currently working on a school-wide project, and I gained ideas for the event such as propagating a plant, a pollination activity and extracting DNA from a strawberry to name a few.”
The four-day conference allowed teachers from around the nation to collaborate and share the ways that they incorporate agriculture into core subject learning.
“I loved seeing the different activities teachers are using in their classrooms around the country, and I can’t wait to share these activities related to cooking, planting, science, literacy and math with my students,” said Starns.
Two Nebraska teachers received $1,800 conference scholarships from Lancaster County Farm Bureau. “We are excited to support teachers who show an interest in bringing agriculture into the classroom and wish to be more involved with the Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom program. Our board believes this is a smart investment in the future of Nebraska and agriculture as we know these teachers will impact hundreds of students throughout their careers,” said Bruce Tiedeman, Lancaster County Farm Bureau president.
The Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom program is a statewide program that helps pre-K through 12th-grade students and teachers develop an awareness and understanding of agriculture. The program is managed by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation and is its flagship program.
“Teachers who recognize the benefits of incorporating agriculture are such important partners in the Foundation’s mission,” said Courtney Shreve, director of outreach education. “It was fun to see the ‘A-ha!’ moments throughout the conference as teachers realized how agriculture concepts can fit into their current lessons and provide a meaningful connection to our state.”
The National Agriculture in the Classroom annual conference is held in a new location each year, giving attendees an opportunity to see and experience agriculture all over the country. Participants also get to experience the food, geography and culture of different regions. The 2023 conference will take place in Orlando, Fla.