Congratulations to Mary Lynn Hess, National Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Winner!

The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO), U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) and Farm Credit partner each year to honor teachers in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade (Pre-K-12) from around the country for the innovative ways they use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, STEM, STEAM and more.

“Many people think that agriculture teaches hard work and perseverance, and it does. But, these outstanding teachers recognize that agriculture also is fertile ground for teaching botany, biology, chemistry, finance, climatology, and arts, in ways that any age or level of students can understand, appreciate and apply to their daily life,” said Dr. Carrie Castille, director of USDA-NIFA, which provides federal leadership and annual funding for NAITC. “When a student makes that real-life connection to the lessons their teachers share, students continue to learn and absorb the true meaning of those lessons when they leave the classroom. Innovative teachers like these are often responsible for awakening a student’s love of learning, nature and science.”

“Honoring these innovative teachers for the ways they use agricultural themes to teach language arts, math, science, social studies and the STEM subject areas is the highlight of the year for National Agriculture in the Classroom and its Agriculture in the Classroom state member programs,” said Tammy Maxey, president of NAITCO and programs director of the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.

“Teachers are key partners in agricultural literacy education, helping to shape the next generation of agriculture advocates through intentional and engaging activities,” said president and CEO of the Farm Credit Council Todd Van Hoose. “Farm Credit is proud to honor these innovative educators and support their ongoing commitment to growing future leaders.”

Mary Lynn Hess, the 2020 overall Florida teacher winner, is the K-5 STEM resource teacher at Goldsboro Elementary Magnet School in Seminole County. Mary Lynn incorporates food, health and lifestyle into almost every STEM lesson she teaches. Her students utilize the 750 square foot school garden to learn about their senses, make observations, differentiate between nonliving and living things, understand soil components, design and build hydroponics, understand healthy lifestyles and grasp concepts such as biomimicry. In addition to her STEM lessons she is considered a “wellness warrior” and has inspired students to enter fun runs and Ironkids triathlons. Mary Lynn believes that healthy children are imperative for academic success and she will continue to provide the tools needed for students and families to stay fit and eat more nutritionally. She will be recognized at the 2021 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Des Moines, IA.

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