By Justin Walker
School may have been out for summer, but that didn’t stop Texas teachers from learning as they attended several teacher workshops hosted by Texas Farm Bureau (TFB).
Teachers in kindergarten through high school classrooms, along with agricultural science teachers, attended regional workshops.
Agricultural science teachers attended the Mini Ag Institute (MAI), which was designed to offer practical experience in agricultural concepts and highlight curriculum and resources provided by TFB.
“This was our first year to offer the Mini Ag Institute, and we are excited to have ag teachers learn about large- and small-scale agricultural operations,” Dakota Fleming, TFB director of Urban Outreach, said. “Texas agriculture is as diverse as it comes, and it plays such an important role in society.”
Teachers learned more about agriculture through hands-on activities, including a quail necropsy and stewarding session from Brian Robert, an education program specialist at Texas Wildlife Association.
“This workshop has been a really awesome experience learning new ways of getting our students outside and engaging them in agriculture,” Kasey Naylor, an agricultural science teacher at Sam Rayburn High School in Ivanhoe, said.
The two-day workshop also included tours of the Texas Forestry Association and the MakeWood Plantation Blueberry Farm.
Dr. Craig Wilson, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Future Scientist Program and a senior research associate at the Center for Mathematics and Science Education at Texas A&M University, shared resources and information with the teachers from the agency, including a recently-launched youth and agriculture website.
The website, www.usda.gov/youth, includes information for educators and community leaders, as well as resources to empower future leaders.
Hands-on and inquiry-based learning and activities are important in agricultural classrooms, Cody Berry, an ag science teacher at Hudson High School in Lufkin, said. Coupled with the resources TFB and USDA offers, it can be an opportunity for students to deepen their knowledge and understanding of agriculture.
“I’ve learned a lot during this workshop, especially from the USDA,” Berry said. “It’s incredible what they do to help ag producers across the country and across the world to grow better products for our consumers.”
While TFB only planned one Mini Ag Institute for 2019, there were several other opportunities for kindergarten through twelfth grade teachers to learn how to engage students with agriculture-based curriculum.
Eight workshops were held across the state where teachers heard from speakers, learned about new resources and participated in fun, hands-on activities to take agriculture back to their classrooms.
“Having these workshops allowed us to reach out to teachers who aren’t typically involved in agriculture but who could use our resources and materials in the classes,” Fleming said.
Workshops were held in College Station, Corpus Christi, Decatur, Fort Stockton, Longview, Lubbock, Seguin and Weslaco from late June to the beginning of August. Each workshop featured different experiences and opportunities to learn based on agriculture in the area. Teachers also were able to earn seven hours of continuing professional education credits by attending.
For more information on the Mini Ag Institute and teacher workshops, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 254-751-2258.