Four Florida teachers are being honored for bringing science to life for their students by using agriculture lessons such as raising chicken hatchlings in the classroom and operating a fully functioning school farm.
For their efforts, the teachers, who come from all over Florida, were chosen by Florida Agriculture in the Classroom as winners of the 2011 Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award.
The award is given to teachers who strive to use agricultural concepts to bring science and technical lessons into their everyday classrooms. The teachers chosen went above and beyond by incorporating hands-on lessons that reiterate the importance of agriculture, while showing that science is approachable and enjoyable.
"These teachers have brought complex scientific ideas to everyday general education lessons," said Vina Jean Banks, chairman and Florida Beef Council representative for Florida Agriculture in the Classroom. "And in doing so, have shown these students that science and agriculture is not only important to everyday life, but is enjoyable and fun as well."
The winners are:
• Elementary teacher: Lesa Roe, Leesburg Elementary School, Leesburg. Roe was chosen as the elementary school level winner and as the overall Florida winner. Her classroom lessons allow students throughout the school to have hands-on experiences watching the lifecycle of chickens as well as observe conservation methods by creating a variety of school gardens.
• Middle school teacher: Susan Ferrell, Dowdell Magnet School, Plant City. Ferrell brought 'aqua-science' to the classroom with aquariums, hydroponic gardens and fish farming.
• Agri-Science middle school teacher: Lisa Friend, Manatee Academy School, Port St. Lucie. Friend incorporated agriculture lessons into the school's pre-veterinarian program. Using poultry farming to teach biology and the beef industry to discuss economics, Friend incorporated science and agriculture lessons in a concrete manner, anchoring the concepts in students' minds.
• High school teacher: Ray Cruze, Roosevelt Academy, Lake Wales. Cruze was honored at the high school level for bringing science to life by starting an entire farming business called "Roosevelt Farms," a self-sustaining business that teaches students not only agriculture skills but business and employability skills as well. Special needs students run the 10,000-square-foot farm that produces a variety of vegetables that are sold and donated in the community.
For more information on Florida Agriculture in the Classroom's Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Awards program, visit www.agtag.org.