LITTLE ROCK — Lisa Taylor, a fourth-grade
teacher at Willis D. Shaw Elementary in Springdale, is Arkansas Farm
Bureau’s 2011 Ag in the Classroom Outstanding Teacher. Arkansas Farm
Bureau established the award in 2006 to recognize teachers who have
exemplary programs which integrate agricultural concepts into their
Taylor received the award during a special ceremony with her students April 4.
Her goal is to ensure her students learn and understand the
importance of agriculture in their everyday lives. To do this, in
2009, Taylor developed a nine-week unit she calls “Agriculture in
Arkansas and Beyond”. The unit integrates economics, literacy,
math, science and social studies concepts. Her students are able to
learn the interdependence of agricultural products in a national and
“My focus is for my students to understand the dependence
Arkansas has on agriculture and that agriculture has on other
industries such as fertilizers and farming equipment,” Taylor says.
Through Taylor’s leadership Willis Shaw has received an
Outdoor Classroom Garden Grant from Arkansas Farm Bureau and developed
an outdoor garden where students throughout the school are planting and
learning how to grow their own produce.
“Her students were able to involve the rest of the school
in the planting of vegetable beds. Each grade level selected a
vegetable and planted different beds to compare and research in their
beds,” says Cynthia Voss, principal at Willis Shaw Elementary. “The
leadership of Mrs. Taylor has allowed not only her 28 students the
opportunity to learn about agriculture in Arkansas, but she has taken
it to the next level and is involving the entire student body.”
Field trips are an important part of her students’ experience
as well. Through their partnership with the Washington County
Cooperative Extension Service and University of Arkansas Division of
Agriculture, the students are able to attend the county fair and learn
firsthand about livestock and animal husbandry. They also tour the
University farm where they see and learn about the importance of crops
such as cotton, soybeans and corn. These experiences are complemented by
use of the Arkansas Farm Bureau Mobile Ag Experience trailer which
Taylor has arranged to visit the school.
As the 2011 AITC Outstanding Teacher, Taylor receives an
expense-paid trip to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to represent Arkansas at
the National Ag in the Classroom Conference, June 22-25.