Rural Values, 21st Century Learning

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

I had the privilege to attend an Ag in the Classroom meeting yesterday and to listen to speaker Carol Budde, who is also the 2010 Janet Sims Memorial Teacher of the Year. Budde is a former teacher at the Walton 21st Century Rural Life Center.

Walton is a very unique school. It is smaller than other district elementary schools and they merge rural values with modern technology to create a learning environment unlike any other. Students learn through hands-on application; agriculture and technology are woven into EVERY element of the curriculum. Students master skills in math, reading and science by growing and selling fresh flowers and produce; watching baby chicks hatch; and feeding and caring for animals. Everything is a cooperative effort and everyone takes turns tending the gardens and feeding the livestock.

Students in all classes are exposed to state of the art technology including laptops, GPS tracking equipment, webcams, and Lego robotics labs. Each classroom is partnered with a local farm family. Physical and virtual field trips allow students to observe the farm, received guidance and support their farm family.

What skills are taught through this method of teaching? Walton students learn the same essential skills as other district students and take the same state assessments. Their results have been impressive. The school has garnered State Standards of Excellence in Math and Reading for every grade level tested, as well as building wide, for the past three years. Perimeter and area is taught through building pig pens. Studying the constellation helped the kids better understand how farmers used to look at the stars when it came to caring for their crops.

Not only did Budde show her class how to care for three pigs throughout the year, but they were given the opportunity to show the pigs at the county fair. Students who were interested in showing the pigs were asked to write a persuasive paper on why they should be selected to be a showman. After the fair, the pigs were fed back to the students at the school to help the grasp the concept of “farm gate to dinner plate”.

What a concept! These students will grow to better understand food production, our environment and how agriculture is integrated with our daily lives.  To learn more about Walton visit their website or watch this video. I am thrilled and thankful to see such wonderful “agvocates“!! I should have known that a school that starts the day with the Pledge of Allegiance and the 4-H Pledge would have a special place in my heart!

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Hank Bohling on November 19, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    What a great opportunity! Wish my school would do something like that. Thanks for sharing this great story!
    Hank.

    Reply

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