Between the Rows

Take it from a Teacher – Carolyn Dolezal

How and when did you first learn about National Agriculture in the Classroom? Another 4th grade teacher, my sister Sandy Dorn, introduced me to the Ag in the Classroom (AITC) program about 18 years ago. Her enthusiasm was very enticing to be included in AITC.
What is your favorite AITC program/resource/event and why?   Being Ag Pen Pals to a farm family has been a very rewarding experience for my students each year. I hear so many positive interactions with the farmers and learning experience from the students. The highlight of the year is the hands-on field trip to meet their pen pals and actually feed hay to the cattle. A student wrote a thank you note and said, “thank you for letting me feel the different kinds of seeds.” Another wrote,” I loved holding the chicken.” These are great hands-on experiences. For some, it is the first time they have experienced a real Nebraska farm and learn about the crops and food grown for their families.  
Describe an agriculture-based project you have led in your classroom. One activity that is a favorite is to have students research a crop grown in Nebraska. Sugar beets is one crop that was most interesting along with sunflowers. I personally have a passion for connecting my students with nature and life as I knew it growing up in a rural community. Therefore, sharing and teaching the students about dairy, the chickens and eggs, honeybees, and wheat enhance various lessons that connects my students to family farms and experiences. We compare the days of the past as we study about the life of the pioneers and the present-day technology that is used in today’s present-day life and their future life. Attending the National Ag in the Classroom conventions opened many opportunities to extend lessons in the classroom. A board game, Ag Career-opoly, gives students an opportunity to learn about agricultural careers through buying and selling careers. Students identify a vast array of agricultural careers, not only a farmer or rancher!  
What advice would you give other teachers to use agriculture in their classroom?   Being an Ag in the Classroom teacher has been an enriching resource for our students at St. Peter’s Catholic School. It is a natural way to teach the life sciences and social studies objectives of the curriculum. Ag in the Classroom continually increases their outreach resources with children’s books, virtual lessons, and classroom visits from the Ag in the Classroom educators. Also, I have enjoyed the opportunities to continue a higher level of learning through classes offered and conventions for collaborating with other teachers across the United States and in Nebraska. 

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