CAMP HILL, Pa. — Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s Agriculture Promotion Committee has selected Butler County teacher Angela Eyth as its 2020 Teacher of the Year.
The award is presented annually to an educator who finds creative ways to share the story of agriculture with his or her students after participating in the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture’s Educator’s Ag Institute. The foundation, a charitable organization supported by Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, hosts the institute each summer to help educators learn how to incorporate lessons about agriculture into their classrooms.
Inspired by what she learned at the institute, Eyth partnered with others in her community to share lessons about Pennsylvania agriculture with her fourth-grade students at Summit Elementary School near Butler. Before schools moved online last spring, she highlighted different agricultural commodities each month and invited special visitors into her classroom to discuss their connections to agriculture.
Her class built bluebird houses, adopted a calf from a Pennsylvania farm, learned how to spin wool and enjoyed farmer visits from local farmers. As a result, Eyth noticed her students seeking out opportunities to learn more about agriculture on their own, such as identifying the types of apples served at lunch.
“This is what true learning should be,” Eyth said. “My students didn’t just learn or memorize facts. They internalized and analyzed their new experiences and applied it to their daily lives.”
Eyth received a $250 cash prize, a cash voucher for classroom supplies and a scholarship to attend the 2021 National Ag in the Classroom Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. Right now, she is working with the school district student engagement coach to create a large outdoor classroom with an agricultural focus and plans to launch an after school agricultural club for her students.
Adams County teacher Wendy Stoner received the runner-up award for her efforts to introduce agriculture in her classroom at Conewago Township Elementary School near Hanover. She used agricultural concepts such as animals, plants, food and machinery to pique her first-grade students’ interest and get them engaged in learning. Stoner received a $100 cash prize.
“Fewer and fewer Pennsylvania families today have a direct connection to farming. Yet agriculture affects all of us every day,” said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert. “Educators play an important role in helping the next generation learn factual information about agriculture and understand its importance in our lives. Angela Eyth and Wendy Stoner demonstrate how teachers can make agriculture a part of their lessons to help their students better understand the story behind our food, fuel and fiber.”
–Liam Migdail, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau