The 2019 Ag in the Classroom Rt. 66 Tour commenced June 4, and sent Oklahoma teachers on an ag-filled, three-day excursion with presentations and teaching tools to fill the educator’s lesson plans for years to come.

Ag in the Classroom’s mission is to educate Oklahoma school children about agriculture through the teachers that guide them on a daily basis.

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The Ag in the Classroom Rt. 66 Tour took Oklahoma teachers across the state learning new teaching techniques and expanding their knowledge of the agriculture industry. (Photo courtesy Bree Elliott.)

The primary sponsor of Ag in the Classroom is the Oklahoma Beef Council, however, other sponsors such as Farm Credit Associations of Oklahoma, Southwest Dairy, Oklahoma Farm Bureau Women, DairyMAX, Oklahoma Soybean Board and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, also make these programs available to educators.

“I think for children today, it is very important to understand the significance of agriculture,” said Tee Henry, Hayes Grade School Center teacher. “For about 15 years I taught in a rural school, then I came to Ada to teach in town. A lot of children being raised in town don’t really know a lot about agriculture.”

Teachers, like Henry, attended the tour, which opened with a welcome from Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur. Next was a stop at Express Ranches in Yukon, Oklahoma, for a lesson on embryo transfers in cattle and a tour of the Clydesdale barn. Later, the teachers listened to a presentation from SouthWest Dairy Farms and experienced their mobile dairy classroom. Bornemann Farms in Union City, Oklahoma, was next on the agenda and teachers were given a lesson in soybean and wheat production in Oklahoma.

On day two of the trip, the tour traveled to Bristow, Oklahoma, and explored Fisher Farms, where they learned about strawberry, carrot and potato crops, as well as sheep and wool production. The educators also visited Just Right Alpacas in Jones, Oklahoma, for some alpaca enlightenment.

The final leg of the journey took the Ag in the Classroom crew to American Plant Products and Services in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where the teachers were introduced to Rodd Moesel, Oklahoma Farm Bureau president, and he spoke about quality greenhouses and horticulture supplies. The Oklahoma National Stockyards was next on the list with Kelli Payne, Oklahoma National Stockyards general manager, summarizing the stockyard’s history and the current cattle market outlook. The historic Round Barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma, made for a unique pit stop as well. Finally, the trip was rounded out with cutting some wheat grown by ODAFF to be used as a teaching tool.

“I found this trip very interesting because of the diversity it offered,” Henry said. “It wasn’t all about livestock or all about farming vegetables or hay, but we learned about all aspects of agriculture and had the opportunity to meet some really interesting people.”

Many of the teachers also remarked on the delicious food served on the trip, which included famous Oklahoma eateries such as Eischens in Okarche, Oklahoma, as well as Cimarron Steak House and Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, both in Oklahoma City. However, the biggest take-homes from the event were the handy teaching tools, emerging agriculture technology and methods for making agriculture an engaging school subject.

“I will be taking back a lot of ideas about how to successfully incorporate agriculture into everyday conversations within the curriculum for my students,” said Alicia Smith, Marietta Elementary School teacher.

Ag in the Classroom’s success in educating children hinges on their ability to aid teachers. With the number of educators willing to learn new teaching strategies and further a student’s interest in where their food comes from, the program seems to be on the road to an A+.

“I want to thank Ag in the Classroom for giving us this opportunity,” said Johnnie Keel, Truman Elementary teacher. “I think it is great. I am a city girl, but I have a passion for ag. I think it is wonderful we are able to share and network with other teachers.”

Bree Elliott contributed to this article. Lacey Newlin can be reached at lnewlin@hpj.com.

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