Gates Receives National Teaching Award
A Pride Elementary School teacher who uses agricultural themes to teach all subject areas has been selected as a 2021 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award winner. Kelly Gates, a fifth-grade teacher, introduces agricultural themes, speakers, farm tours and special events to teach her students about seed germination and plant life cycles, colonial era homesteading and farming, hybridization of daylilies and international trade, among other activities.
“I am honored to receive this award. Agriculture is an excellent way to introduce important learning concepts,” said Gates. “My students benefit from learning about ag and I believe it will help them throughout their time in the classroom and beyond.”
The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO), U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) and Farm Credit partner each year to honor teachers in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade (Pre-K-12) from around the country for the innovative ways they use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, STEM, STEAM and more.
“Hopkins County Schools is so proud of Ms. Gates and her outstanding accomplishments, especially at the national level,” said Superintendent Dr. Deanna Ashby. “Moving forward we are hoping Ms. Gates will share her ideas across our district. She is a fabulous teacher with a passion for teaching and learning. Effective instruction is about culminating projects incorporating all content into real-world experiences.”
Agriculture is a wide-ranging subject, said Dr. Carrie Castille, director of USDA-NIFA, which provides federal leadership and annual funding for NAITC.
“Many people think that agriculture teaches hard work and perseverance, and it does. But, these outstanding teachers recognize that agriculture also is fertile ground for teaching botany, biology, chemistry, finance, climatology, and arts, in ways that any age or level of students can understand, appreciate and apply to their daily life,” said Castille. “When a student makes that real-life connection to the lessons their teachers share, students continue to learn and absorb the true meaning of those lessons when they leave the classroom. Innovative teachers like these are often responsible for awakening a student’s love of learning, nature and science.”
“Honoring these innovative teachers for the ways they use agricultural themes to teach language arts, math, science, social studies and the STEM subject areas is the highlight of the year for National Agriculture in the Classroom and its Agriculture in the Classroom state member programs,” said Tammy Maxey, president of NAITCO and programs director of the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.
Gates will be honored at the 2021 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference “Fields of Dreams” June 28-July 1 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa.