Two Williston Middle School teachers, agricultural teacher Natalie Couey and seventh grade science teacher Elizabeth Horner are among 12 Florida teachers who have been selected for the Florida Agriscience Education Leadership Program.
The Agriscience Education Leadership Program is a joint effort between the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Department of Education.
Each county is allowed to nominate middle or high school agriculture teachers and science teachers to participate in four agriculture tours throughout the 2012-2013 school year.
The program will look at the latest industry trends in production, sales/marketing, research and business as well as governmental issues and environmental concerns.
The teachers will participate in farm and industry tours which include visiting agricultural operations in Florida, exploring our state’s natural resources, learning the science behind agriculture and gaining experience in leadership opportunities. When asked why is it important to teach today’s students about agriculture, Ms Couey responded “I truly believe that agricultural education can prepare students for life after high school. The curriculum offers life skills and lessons that are not always incorporated in their core academic classes. In today’s economic troubles, students have to understand that jobs are scarce and very competitive. Agricultural education, along with the National FFA Organization, gives students the skills and knowledge needed to succeed and be competitive in today’s job market. These two components not only serve students interested in entering a career in agriculture, but allows students with other ambitions to gain communication and employability skills and develops a work ethic that will benefit any career choice. “Ms. Horner feels “Science and agriculture are closely related in many aspects. The agricultural teacher is able to support the standards that we as science teachers have to teach in class. As a 7th grade science teacher, my curriculum requires me to teach a lot of earth science and that can be supported in agriculture class (soil identification and filtration for example). I also teach a unit on genetics and that can be supported in agriculture by talking about hybrid plants and genetic engineering of fruits and vegetables. Another focus is careers in both the sciences and agricultural fields. There is a lot of overlap between those two areas. I feel that by participating in this program, we can strengthen both the science and agriculture classes and teach students about the world around them through both avenues.”Only 12 teachers were selected statewide, with Levy County the only county to have two teachers selected, and both of them from the same school. Erica Der, Agricultural Education Liaison for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumeer Services said “We received many exceptional applications from extremely qualified educators.” That says a lot about the caliber of our teachers at the Williston Middle School.