2007 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award
Ms. Lynn Strong, Arkansas
Ms. Strong, an eighth grade science teacher, is implementing ideas at her new school from the outstanding results achieved in agricultural literacy at her previous school, Wonder Jr. High School. After receiving the 2006 Ag in the Classroom Outstanding Teacher Award for Arkansas, Ms. Strong moved to Hot Springs to help her elderly parents.
While at Wonder Jr. High School, she greatly advanced agricultural literacy not only in her classroom, but also throughout the entire school. She had a small greenhouse in her classroom and grew a garden on the school grounds to which she tied in lessons. Students planted and harvested the soybeans. With the help of Farm Bureau and a local farmer, students visited Asgrove Research Center where students learned the genetics of growing soybeans and some Arkansas history about the soybean. They recorded the field trip in their journals. A second lesson focused on sunflowers. Students grew sunflowers, dried, and cooked them. This hands-on method had a big impact on these urban-raised students. They were amazed to find out where the sunflower seeds they eat came from.
Ms. Strong's garden had an amazing impact on students. She had anywhere from 2-20 students during the summer volunteer their time to help keep the garden in tip-top shape. The students weeded, cultivated the soil, watered, and picked the ripe vegetables. Students loved working in the garden so much that they asked her to start a Garden Club. The club met after school once or more a week when the students would tend the garden or Ms. Strong would invite guest speakers, such as an extension agent, farmer, soil conservationist, retired florist/master gardener, and many others.
Now at Hot Springs Middle School, Ms. Strong had the students grow corn earworms to observe the life cycle of the worms and how they affect corn crops in the United States. She is also working on the construction of a raised bed on campus to grow plants and teach her new students about agriculture.