LINCOLN, NE – The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation has selected Becky Streff for the 2021 Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year honor. The Teacher of the Year is awarded to outstanding teachers that incorporate agriculture into their classroom through innovative ideas and lessons.
“The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is pleased to honor Becky Streff, a teacher who integrates agriculture into core classroom learning,” said Courtney Shreve, director of outreach education. “Her efforts to incorporate year-long learning with Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom lessons and activities have helped students understand the vital message that agriculture is their source of food, fiber, and fuel.”
Streff has been teaching for 16 years, with 13 of those years at North Bend Central Elementary in Dodge County. Even though she teaches in a school that has many students who are growing up on farms, she still sees a need for them to understand the important connection between agriculture and the learning environment.
“Agriculture is part of our daily lives, has many connections to our future, and possible future careers,” said Streff. “As a teacher, I want to encourage my students to follow their dreams, learn from resources around them, and learn the importance of agriculture in their lives.”
When the students went to virtual learning in the spring of 2020, Streff got creative with her lessons and set up virtual field trips through Zoom to her students’ farms. The students talked about their animals with their classmates and how they got their animals ready for their county fairs. They were also able to meet with a veterinarian who shared the role she has in agriculture on a daily basis.
“Connections and daily life within agriculture were rich and visible during the virtual field trips,” said Streff. “It was a great opportunity to make the connections between agriculture and future careers.”
Streff has been part of the Ag Pen Pal Program for several years. The program matches a Nebraska classroom with a farmer or rancher in Nebraska. The pen pals write a series of letters to each other, giving students the opportunity to learn about farming first-hand, ask questions, and learn about different aspects of agriculture.
“There are often pictures that accompany the letters which help us see the farm, products, animals, and agriculture even better,” said Streff. “We often research the area of Nebraska where our pen pal lives, have class discussions, and compare and contrast our farming area with that of our pen pal’s.”
Streff also uses many of the Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom lessons plans which align with Nebraska education standards.
“The lesson plans provided by AITC connect nicely to our learning of the environment, food cycles, food webs, and animals,” said Streff. “I look forward to accessing more of the lessons to benefit my students’ learning and opportunities to understand science and agriculture with quality hands-on experiences.”
Streff will receive an expense-paid trip to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, an accurate agriculture book bundle featuring 12 books and corresponding literature guides, and a $250 cash prize. The conference, held June 28 – July 1, 2021 in Des Moines, IA, brings educators together from all over the United States to learn how to use agricultural concepts to effectively teach core subjects such as reading, math, science, and social studies. The conference features recognition for Teacher of the Year honorees, educational workshops, traveling workshops to agribusinesses and research facilities, and farm tours.
“I am honored and humbled to earn this award,” said Streff. “The opportunities are endless, and I feel it is important to build these connections since agriculture is an important part of Nebraska. Additionally, to cross-curricular connections, many of my students live on a farm, so not only are we learning educationally, but we are also able to build relationships through agriculture.
The mission of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is to engage youth, educators, and the general public to promote an understanding of the vital importance of agriculture in the lives of all Nebraskans. The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. For more information about the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, visit www.nefbfoundation.org.