ITHACA, N.Y. — For sixty New York educators, the topics of aquaculture, school gardens, oxen, whoopee pies, distilleries, sustainability, and biodiversity were some of the exciting lessons covered at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Portland, Maine. For the first time, New York Agriculture in the Classroom dedicated scholarship funding to provide sixty New York teachers the opportunity to attend the premier professional development conference about teaching through a lens of food and agriculture.
During this unique experience, teachers had the opportunity to network with educators from across the country, participated in over thirteen experiential learning workshops, and brought home resources with the latest technology, methods, and tools for integrating agriculture and food systems in their classrooms. This year’s conference theme was “Agriculture for ME – On Land and Sea.” Through this theme, educators saw firsthand the ways Maine agriculture stands out and works to feed and supply not only the state, but the country and the world. Educators received a scholarship value of $1,200, which included National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference registration, transportation, lodging, and 28 hours of CTLE Professional Development Credit.
Fifty-one teachers, eight Cornell Cooperative Extension educators, and one post-secondary administrator were awarded scholarships. The teachers span in grade levels from Pre-K through grade twelve in all subject areas, and range in teaching experience from one to thirty-two years. The organization is most proud that the attendees are representative of each region of New York State; from north of the Adirondack Mountains in Franklin County, as west as Buffalo, throughout the heart of Central New York, surrounding the capital district, and a strong contingent from four of New York City’s boroughs and Long Island.
While at the conference, many teachers were introduced to new ways that they can integrate agriculture into their curriculum and learned how to educate themselves and their students on important topics affecting the world. In between all of the great learning opportunities, New York educators had the opportunity to explore the Old Port and even brought home some fresh Maine lobster.
New York Agriculture in the Classroom is also proud to recognize Amy Gosier as one of eight recipients of the USDA-NIFA National Award for Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture. Amy is a first-grade teacher at Milton Terrace Elementary in Ballston Spa who has gotten her students excited about corn. Gosier’s award was based on the cross-curricular experience she created to teach her students about corn production. In the unit, students Skyped regularly with an Iowa corn and soybean producer throughout the harvest season and helped him solve real problems on his farm. Amy plans to use the information and resources she learned about at the conference to incorporate a “Friday Feature” in her classroom each week where she highlights a different agricultural concept.
Rae Schraver, from Cambridge Central School in Washington County, said of her experience, “I knew the trip was going to be good, after all its Maine. What I didn’t know was how truly amazing it was to be surrounded by people from all over the country who have the same love and passion for agriculture and education as I do.”
“This was one of the best conferences I have ever attended. I am coming home with a treasure trove of ideas and resources. The energy of the shared passion and enthusiasm was amazing. Thank you for this incredible opportunity, I cannot wait to share with my students, colleagues and district” was the sentiment echoed by Bethany Perry of Malone Central Schools.
New York Agriculture in the Classroom is an outreach program of Cornell University, with a goal to increase the agricultural literacy of our students so that they may be able to understand and communicate the source and value of agriculture as it affects their daily lives. Special thanks to the New York Farm Bureau State Promotion and Education Committee for assistance in reviewing applications and providing recommendations in this competitive process.
For a full list of recipients, please visit the New York Agriculture in the Classroom website at www.agclassroom.org/ny.
–New York Agriculture in the Classroom
For more articles New York, click here.