This is an article from the February 2018 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.
In the rural community of Elgin, Oklahoma, the agriculture program continues to grow and thrive with over 150 students enrolled. The three-teacher department focuses on agricultural education’s three-circle model of instruction, in order to help its students achieve their goals and aspirations in an agricultural context.
Since 2013, Cameron Dale has provided the students at Elgin High School the opportunity to learn beyond the walls of her classroom through hands-on and interactive experiences. Her dedication to teaching her students valuable life skills in order to prepare them for their future careers is why she was named the 2017 NAAE Region II Outstanding Young Member.
“As an agriculture teacher, my ultimate goal is to produce educated consumers that can critically think and solve problems,” said Dale. “I believe that students should learn something new in my classroom every day that can be applied to their future educational and career endeavors.”
Dale wants to ensure that her students develop soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and work ethic, that they can transfer to their future careers, so she takes every opportunity she can to teach. Whether in the school garden, at a livestock show, or on the way to a career development event, she uses every chance she can to help her students learn and grow through agricultural education.
“Linking real-life experiences to student learning is the foundation of my instruction,” added Dale.
Hands-on experiences are a critical part of Dale’s classroom and instruction. In her Agricultural Explorations class, she has her students conduct a research project by making ice cream. The students use a website resource available through the National Center for Education Statistics to graph their data and draw their conclusions. She also takes her students to the school farm to assess animal health and apply the skills they learn in the classroom to the program’s livestock. Dale also uses hydroponic systems and garden beds to teach her students about horticulture and even has the students care for and manage three breeds of composting worms.
By providing students with a real-life context for their learning, agriculture teachers are able to teach beyond the walls of their classrooms. When students are able to understand that what they learn at school has tangible value that they can use in their daily lives, they are more engaged in their learning.
How will you help reach students beyond the walls of your classroom?
The Outstanding Young Member Award is a means of encouraging young teachers to remain in the profession and to recognize their participation in professional activities. This program is sponsored by John Deere as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
Follow this link for more information about the Outstanding Young Member award category and to see the other regional award winners.