Anna Wofford first learned about Ag in the Classroom during her lunch break her first year teaching. That small “bite” of AITC wet her “appetite” for the program and she dove right in! Mrs. Wofford currently teaches third grade at Frederick Elementary.
Anna, who was raised in the rural community of Frederick, OK, where she now teaches, grew up gardening. She spent spring, summer, and fall with her hands in the soil gardening with her parents. As a child, she was always amazed to see something as small as a seed grow into something that she enjoyed eating. Now, as an adult, she owns and operates a seasonal pumpkin patch and corn maze and also raises cattle and goats, in addition to teaching.
Mrs. Wofford began teaching in November 2016. That’s when she first learned about Ag in the Classroom. She was amazed at the possibility of utilizing AITC lessons in her classroom to share her passion for agriculture with her students. This past fall, the third grade students at Frederick visited the Tillman County Fair. The students in Mrs. Wofford's class created salt dough images, in the shape of Oklahoma, to form maps with landmarks. Prior to creating the maps, Anna taught her students about the livestock and crops grown in Tillman County. This allowed them to better determine the features they wanted to add to their individual maps. When they arrived at the county fair, they were excited to see the animals and crops they had learned about in the classroom. In addition to this mapping opportunity, her students also used the AITC Commodity Maps as they utilized life skills of reading a map legend.
When you enter Mrs. Wofford’s classroom, you will see the AITC “Harvest of the Month” posters hanging on the wall. She uses these posters to educate her students not only where and how these specialty crops grow, but also the nutritional benefit of eating them. Mrs. Wofford often asks her students, “What can you replace in your diet to eat this healthy new food, instead?”
Her students used a colleague’s Aero Garden in the fall to grow green beans and this spring they are growing strawberries in their own Aero Garden, which Mrs. Wofford purchased using the AITC Oklahoma Pork Council Grant. The students are responsible for watering and fertilizing the water in which the plants grow. They also monitor the growth of the plants by measuring them and then journaling their findings. The students are excited to look back in their journals and can tell you when the plants sprouted, put on buds, needed water, etc. Once the plants put on their fruit, the students harvest and taste test the produce. “The kids have planted green beans, documented how they grew, and then were able to consume the fruits of their labor,” stated Shellie Collins, a parent of one of Mrs. Wofford's students, “If that is not agriculture at it’s finest, I’m not sure what is!”
Mrs. Wofford’s students loved the green beans, which was evident by the fact that not one green bean was left in the slow cooker. One student exclaimed, “These taste just like my moms!” (That might be the bacon that Mrs. Wofford added.) “My students now share with their friends at recess, what new fruit or veggie they just taste tested in the classroom and give their peers information about it,” said Mrs. Wofford, “Some students have even persuaded their peers to try something new from the salad bar, based on the taste testing we have done inside the classroom.”
“Using Ag in the Classroom has had an enormous impact on how I teach my students,” shared Anna. Even though her students live in a rural community, they often do not come into her class with extensive knowledge of agriculture. To help increase agricultural literacy at home, Mrs. Wofford writes a monthly newsletter to the parents. In it, she shares the activities that her students have just finished, as well as those they are getting ready to experience, and a recipe for the Harvest of the Month fruit or veggie they sampled. She includes a list of questions for the parents, to spark conversation at home and increase her students grasp of their new knowledge. As a result, she has noticed her students now ask more in-depth questions about agriculture from the surrounding area. Parents have thanked her and told her how excited their kids are to grow plants from seed or try new fruits or vegetables. “As a parent who raises cattle,” continued Collins, “I truly appreciate the effort that Mrs. Wofford is taking to educate our youth about the importance and scope of what agriculture is.”
Not only does Anna share her love of agriculture with her students, but as her principal, Kay Cabaniss told AITC, “She also shares with her fellow teachers, so that all students benefit from her knowledge.” Some of what she shares comes from the experiences that her students are having in her classroom, and some of it comes from adventures beyond her classroom. On a visit to her pumpkin patch, the students learned “goats do not like to get wet and seek shelter when it is raining,” and “turkeys can fly up to 55 mph.” You can imagine their excitement to share these fun facts with friends and family!
“Utilizing the exceptional lessons and resources from Ag in the Classroom allows me to teach the state standards to the maximum of my ability,” said Mrs. Wofford. Wofford uses the AITC lessons with her science curriculum to teach the difference between living and nonliving things through the sprouting of beans. To teach measurement, her students measure the plants stems and leaves with rulers. Their writing skills are utilized as they record their findings in their science journals. They even incorporate art into their classroom, as their school no longer has an art teacher. Mrs. Wofford’s students created “Pumpkin Seed Art” after visiting the pumpkin patch and dissecting a class pumpkin. Most recently, they created a large Batman Street Cow for the hallway using the AITC lesson Street Cows
“Anna does many exciting things in her classroom surrounding her students with agriculture and the effects of it on our daily lives,” shared Mrs. Cabaniss, “I look forward to her expanding her knowledge and love of agriculture for many years with our students in Frederick, OK.”