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Utah Agriculture in the Classroom

Teacher Award

State Teacher Award 2012

Julie Thorngren

Snowcrest Junior High School
Keyboarding, Career and Technical Education (Business Rotation)
Julie Thorngren

Yes, a middle school Career & Technology business teacher can incorporate agriculture into her instruction! Adding agriculture to my curriculum has contextualized our state standards and made my instruction more relevant, exposing my students to career opportunities and the importance of agriculture. My teaching strategy is simple: INTEGRATE –INTEGRATE – INTEGRATE. I teach four separate courses and integrate agriculture into all of them. Students typically only think of agriculture as farming, but it is also a dynamic, integral part of our lives. I teach for the "ah ha" moment and there are lots of these moments when I use agricultural examples applied to my business curriculum.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) provides the skills and knowledge students need to prepare for successful future employment and/or post-secondary education, linking career exploration with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). One class I teach is the business (STEM integration) portion of CTE Introduction (7th grade). I spend over two weeks exploring agriculture's 5-Fs (food, flowers, forestry, farming, fabric) with my students. They love it once they discover the important part agriculture plays in their daily lives, giving them make-up, clothes, food, and even sports equipment. Last year in this class, out of 50 students, only 5 comprehended the importance of agriculture before I taught the unit—45 students' lives were changed. Almost 20 students now want to pursue a career in agriculture, whereas before, there were none. And this is just one semester. Over the course of a year, I instruct over 100 students. Imagine this impact, year after year!