Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture 2016 Teachers of the Year Announced

LINCOLN, NE – The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s Board of Directors, Promotion and Education Committee and staff have selected two teachers as their 2016 Teachers of the Year.

Anica Brown, a seventh grade teacher at Pound Middle School in Lincoln and Judi Roach, a fourth grade teacher at North Elementary in Sidney were honored.

“Both of these educators demonstrate how teachers can incorporate agriculture examples and hands on teaching methods into standards-based curriculum to engage the next generation in critical thinking about where their food, fiber and fuel comes from,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.

Brown currently teaches seventh grade science at Pound Middle School in Lincoln. She enhances her lessons with an agricultural perspective by connecting with farmers and ranchers in Nebraska through the Foundation’s Ag Pen Pal program. Brown’s Pen Pals include, Brock and Kerry Elsen, Buffalo County Farm Bureau members, Darren and Stacy Nelson, Platte County Farm Bureau members, Ben Hendrix, Dundy County Farm Bureau member, Cheryl Feala from North Bend and high school students from the Cody Killgore FFA Chapter. Brown is one of many teacher in the program who have multiple Ag Pen Pals. She wants to show the diversity of agriculture across Nebraska.

“These experiences are rich in diversity and bring to life real lessons about Nebraska agriculture that help my students grow in their knowledge about food production in our state,” Brown said.

She began with the Ag in the Classroom program while teaching fourth grade at Belmont Elementary School in Lincoln. Brown grew up in the city but spent many summers with her grandma, aunts and uncles who lived on farms just west of Emerald and near Malcolm, Nebraska.

“My students are engaged in learning about Nebraska’s roles in food and livestock production through the wonderful letters and, we hope, visits that will come about because of this program,” she said.

Judi Roach first participated in the Ag Pen Pal program in 2012, when her fourth grade students wrote letters to Jeff and Robyn Huffman, Lincoln County Farm Bureau members and Ag Pen Pals. The student’s exchanged letters, visited via Skype technology and were able to take a field trip to the Huffman farm. “The visit to the farm made the whole Ag Pen Pal experience come full circle,” said Roach.

Judi’s class participated in multiple Google handout sessions with Jeff. During each session the students asked questions and Jeff would answer them. During one particular session Jeff showed the class how the corn planter worked and shared when he would begin planting. On the first day of planting Jeff was able to virtually show the class how to fill the planter and how it operated. “It was great that we were there on the first day of planting via technology!” Roach said.

Through the incorporation of the Ag Pen Pal program and Ag in the Classroom, Roach’s class has created an Ag Pen Pal Show that is shared with grades 1-4. They are using video footage from their field trip and are going to be showing it throughout the year. Roach’s class continues to be an Ag Pen Pal with the Huffman family.

Each teacher is being awarded an all-expenses paid trip to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Litchfield Park, Arizona, June 20-24. The conference brings educators together from all over the United States to collaborate on how to incorporate agriculture into their curriculum and engage students. Teachers will have the opportunity to attend tours of local ag businesses along with farms in the area.