3-5 Grade Teacher
William Collier Elementary School, Riverside County
How long have you been teaching students and why did you choose to become an educator?
I have been a teacher for nine years. I chose to be an educator because my second and fourth grade teachers were such amazing women, I wanted to be just like them! I had another career including as a stay-at-home mom, but eventually got here and have loved every minute of it.
What is your favorite AITC program/resource/event and why?
I love the California Specialty Crop Taste Test Grant because it is amazing how many students have not tasted what I would consider basic produce in my household. I had so many students want to know exactly where to buy the commodities. They were so excited to show me when they had asked their moms to buy them that new food!
What is the most profound impact that agriculture education/awareness has had on you?
I am the daughter of a dairy farmer and thought I knew a lot about farming. Going on the field trips at the AITC Conference last year was very eye opening! I learned so much about the obstacles these very important farmers endure.
Has agriculture continued to impact the way you educate students?
Absolutely! After the conference, and my new education, my school started a school garden. My students are so excited! We have corn and tomatoes and beans all growing right now.
Tell us about one person who has most influenced your own education and educational career.
Two people who have had the biggest impact on my career would be my master's teacher during my second round of student teaching and my former superintendent. My master's teacher and I have become lifelong friends and I cherish all of her wisdom! My former superintendent also taught one of my master's classes and was so supportive.
Tell us about a golden teaching moment.
One of my golden moments was with an ELD student. We were discussing vocabulary in the weekly story and he simply nodded with everyone else, but did not truly understand the word "beach." Here in Southern California, everyone knows the beach! When I showed him pictures, he was so excited because he now did understand. I have since used pictures for all of my new vocabulary words! Lesson learned; Never assume your students know what is around them.
Describe any agriculture-based projects you have been involved in lately.
We began planting our garden in April. I gave all of my students a pair of gloves and the plants that they had already seeded. Most, not all, looked at me and asked, "What do I do?" They had never planted anything before. This was a huge ah-ha moment for me. Once a week we go visit the garden to weed and measure its growth. This has been a fantastic opportunity for them. We have also begun composting at our school, which was the jumping-off point and the beginning of our garden. The students have all learned how important recycling is, but none had heard of composting.
Do you have any advice for other teachers on implementing agriculture into the classroom?
It does take time, which is so precious to all of us, but integrating agriculture into lessons is so important and valuable to the students. They not only enjoy it but often ask questions about it. There are so many resources, lessons, and information on California-grown crops. Students love to research, so assign them an outside project. Whatever it takes, start today!
Why do you believe it is important for our students to be agriculturally literate and aware in today's society?
I think it is important because if you ask children where our food comes from, most will answer the name of a grocery store. To truly appreciate the value of food, students need to understand where it comes from. Students today are very used to receiving, simply by asking. We, as educators, need to impress upon them that grocery stores are NOT where our food comes from and how hard it is to plant, grow and deliver everything we simply enjoy by going to the store. We need to make agriculture part of their life lessons so it too, will be all they ever know.