2011 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award
Ms. Sherrie Taylor Vann
Williams Elementary School, Williams, California
Sherrie Taylor Vann's third grade classroom, in the small town of Williams, is far from the urban centers, crowded freeways and fast-paced hustle often associated with California. Many of Sherrie's students are the children of farm workers, the producers of food and fiber commodities so vital to the state's economic well-being. Empowered by her belief in growing, selling, and buying locally, Sherrie uses a nearby fruit stand to teach children about the benefits and importance of consuming local items whenever possible.
Sherrie's students are predominantly second language learners. Integrating agriculture into their English Language Development lessons has improved her students' ability to grasp the language and gives them a new appreciation for this deeply rooted agricultural town. Through activities such as field trips, guest speakers, and adopt-a-ewe, Sherrie has shared her love of the land with her students both in the classroom and in her multiple roles as a volunteer. Her contagious enthusiasm and willingness to embrace and celebrate her community's agricultural heritage are sure signs that many students will be forever touched along the way.
"I can see my students engage and connect when they understand that buying the rice, tomatoes, or almonds grown locally actually helps their neighbors and their own families. This is a math, social science, and life lesson that has true, personal meaning."