STORY BY: Allie Doise
Vickie Mayeaux helps her pre-K class making the connection between full bellies and farming. Mayeaux’s class raised carrots and chickens through the school year not only to teach her class about agriculture, but using ag as a way of teaching math, science and reading. Mayeaux said making that connection is important for students of any age and many of the other classes at Cottonport Elementary used the Ag in the Classroom material to teach their students as well. Photo by Monica Velasquez.
In Vickie Mayeaux’s classroom, students are shown what they love to eat can develop a hunger to learn.
Mayeaux fills minds and bellies in her pre-kindergarten class at Cottonport Elementary. The agriculture lessons she teaches develops a love of learning that has been brought to homes and the community all year long. For her efforts, Mayeaux has been named the 2016 Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year.
“We need to teach the masses that farmers want healthy food and safe food just as much as anybody else, but you also have to be realistic about how you go about this,” Mayeaux said. “What is possible, what is not possible.”
AITC helps Mayeaux fill her curriculum in the same way she fills minds. With a carrot garden and a crop of chicks that grew into hens, the students get lessons they can see, touch and taste. This pre-K class at may be the youngest at the school, but they are setting examples for other students. The projects have been such a success in Mayeaux’s classroom that its effects are reaching throughout the entire school. Older students and 4-H members often venture into her classroom to have a part in the project.
“Little children at this age are like sponges,” Mayeaux said. “They learn and they love to do and, to me, this is the way to do it.”
Although she has set the example for ag learning in Cottonport, the Teacher of the Year award was the one thing she wasn’t expecting.
“I was absolutely flabbergasted and absolutely thrilled,” she said.
Avoyelles Parish Ag in the Classroom Chair Charlotte Marks, said it was no surprise for her. She knew Vickie Mayeaux would be the State Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year the moment they met. Mayeaux worked on her own to provide the money to purchase child size gloves and gardening tools.
“I think it comes natural from her,” Marks said. “She has such enthusiasm for her students and for agriculture in general.”
As 2016 State AITC Teacher of the Year, Mayeaux received an iPad, as well as an all expense paid trip to the National Ag in the Classroom Conference.
The Louisiana Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom programs helps ensure a new generation of farmers and ranchers by giving teachers the necessary tools they need to effectively incorporate agriculture into every subject they teach. Each year the AITC committee selects a teacher who excels in incorporating agriculture into the classroom as the Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year.