A fourth grade teacher from Des Moines, Iowa, Rhonda Osborn is the 2020 recipient of the Iowa Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture award presented by the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation.
Osborn competed against other elementary, middle and high school teachers to earn the honor. She was recognized at a ceremony at the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation board meeting Dec. 15 held virtually.
The runner-up for this year's award is Yvonne Gaul, a kindergarten teacher at Shelby County Catholic School in Harlan in western Iowa.
Rhonda Osborn has designed and developed agricultural units and taught them with her literacy program. Her work involves researching the subjects, creating lesson plans, designing stem projects to go with each unit, applying for grants, scheduling live farm chats and finding other teaching materials.
Creative ways to teach kids
Osborn's students study careers with their corn unit, and compare and contrast field corn, sweet corn and popcorn. Her soybean unit looks at the life cycle of the plant and researches technologies used on the farm. Her beef unit identifies cuts of beef and learning vocabulary like heifer, cow, bull and steer. Her turkey unit compares wild and domesticated turkeys, and covers maintaining healthy environments in turkey barns.
"Teaching agriculture is exciting for the students to learn, fun to teach, and most importantly, it instills a passion for agriculture in each of the students," Osborn says. "Students need to connect agriculture to their lives and know the important role it plays in each of our lives."
Osborn also integrates agriculture into her STEM activities. Her classes have grown salad greens, created presentations on corn, celebrated agriculture by dressing up like a farmer, and designed farm machinery with Legos.
Her students learn how to best care for plants and have taken virtual field trips to farms. They also have competed in beef and turkey marketing contests, and understand how to track cattle with brands and other tracking methods.
Putting ag in classroom
Osborn will receive a $500 stipend to support her continued efforts of integrating agriculture into her classroom curriculum. She hopes to expand her teaching efforts with literacy and informational text activities. She will also attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom conference to be held in Des Moines in June.
Osborn is in her 16th year of teaching at Des Moines Christian School. She earned her degree from Northwest Missouri State University. She has been a recipient of the Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher Supplement Grant, as well as other grants. She has previously been honored as the Des Moines Christian School elementary teacher of the year.
Karla Lowe, the elementary principal at Des Moines Christian School, says, "When DMCS transitioned to distance learning last spring, Mrs. Osborn often recorded her morning message sitting on a tractor or from a cornfield. She is a very creative teacher who enjoys teaching her students about the agricultural industry."
Planting seed for tomorrow
The runner-up for the award was kindergarten teacher Yvonne Gaul from Shelby County Catholic School at Harlan in western Iowa. Gaul will also be able to attend the National Ag in the Classroom conference having her registration fees covered for her exceptional application.
Gaul has integrated agriculture into her classroom through learning about life cycles of farm animals and about crops grown on farms. Her students plan and maintain container gardens every year.
"I feel it is important that my students understand the impact agriculture has on their daily lives," Gaul says. "My hope is to increase students' knowledge and interest in agriculture, and give them experiences that may influence their career paths in the future."Source: IALF, which is responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and its subsidiaries aren't responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.