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Undeniable enthusiasm

By Holly Martin

AG EVERY DAY—Lucas Shivers plants a garden with his students at the Bluejacket Flint Elementary School in Shawnee, Kan. (Courtesy photo.)

There's really no replacement for enthusiasm, is there?

No matter what you do, no matter what the goal, if you do it with gusto--people pay attention. Nothing quite illustrates my point like Lucas Shivers' classroom. Shivers teaches grades 4 to 6 at Bluejacket Flint Elementary School in Shawnee, Kan. Shawnee is a part of the Kansas City area and isn't what you would call a hot bed of agricultural knowledge.

But Shivers is trying to change that, one student at a time. Shivers spoke during the annual meeting of Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. And as I listened to his presentation I don't see how any of his students could possibly miss becoming connected with agriculture. Shivers was honored as the 2012 Janet Sims Memorial Teacher of the Year award, sponsored by High Plains Journal.

I serve on the board of directors for KFAC and am amazed each year at the enthusiasm of KFAC's award winner. Our mission is "Agriculture in every classroom every day." That mission may sound like a tall order, but Shivers makes it look easy--even though I know it is not.

It is hard to describe how this young man talks about his classroom. His eyes light up. He talks fast. He shows pictures and video. He smiles and tells stories of how his students achieved success.

Shivers founded a Green Team at school that helped his students understand suburban agriculture. He incorporates agriculture in his classroom in many ways, including measuring plant growth; using climate factors to teach decimals, fractions and percentages; incorporating books with agricultural connections; and teaching food safety and wellness.

Shivers says incorporating agriculture helps his students think critically and solve real-world problems. His creativity simply shines as he shares his love of teaching.

If only every child had a teacher like Mr. Shivers, there would be no consumer disconnect with agriculture. If only every student had a Mr. Shivers, the U.S. wouldn't be falling in the rankings of science and math achievement.

If only KFAC, and similar programs, could reach more teachers and help them get enthused about agriculture, we just might accomplish that mission: Agriculture in every classroom, every day.

Editor's note: To join Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom's mission, visit www.ksagclassroom.org/donate. Or you can find a list of other state programs at www.agclassroom.org/state.

Holly Martin can be reached by phone at 1-800-452-7171 ext. 1806, or by email at hmartin@hpj.com.

Date: 11-26-2012

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