OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. —  The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit partner each year to honor teachers from around the country for the innovative ways they use agricultural concepts to teach countless topics.

This year, Christie Puckett, a third through sixth grade science teacher from Maysville, Oklahoma and seven other teachers from across the country have been selected as the 2020 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award winners. Puckett, who has taught at Maysville Public Schools for her entire 34-year teaching career, has pursued Ag in the Classroom in many ways, including by attending countless workshops, tours and conferences across the state and nation.

She is recognized for her use of the school garden in regard to helping her students study the origins of the fruits and vegetables grown in it. This allows students to ‘travel’ to different stations in the garden to learn about that particular region of the world in which the crop is grown, the way land forms, water bodies in that area and the climate specific to it.

“I have such a heart for the town I was born and raised in,” Puckett said. “So, it comes as no surprise that Maysville is where God planted me to teach for the last 34 years. It is primarily a farming town, and I love the sense of unity agriculture brings to our community.”

Although her accomplishments clearly speak to her dedication, it truly does all start in the classroom. Puckett has incorporated agricultural lessons into her classes since she began teaching.

“Christie has a deep passion for teaching agricultural literacy to her students,” said Audrey Harmon, Oklahoma AITC state coordinator. “When teaching kindergarten, she loved ‘The Little Red Hen’ lesson and focused not only on the moral of the story, but also the life cycle of wheat.”

She has also incorporated an “Ag Day” at Maysville Elementary School in recent years. With help from the local ag teacher, community members, former students and other guests, Puckett spends months planning the event to ensure its success.

“What I love most about Christie is that she is still searching for ways to engage her students,” Harmon said. “As a career educator, Mrs. Puckett realizes she is still a learner.”

Outside of her own classroom, Puckett continues to incorporate AITC. The first Thursday of every month, she reads an agriculture-related book to all elementary students. The students then visit her science lab for a lesson on the book’s subject.

“She consistently reaches outside her classroom to educate all students about agriculture,” Harmon said.”

“These teachers are great examples of how effective agricultural concepts can be in delivering important reading, writing, math, nutrition, science and social studies lessons to students,” said Dr. Scott Angle, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which provides federal leadership and annual funding for NAITC. “The real-life connections teachers make by using items students use every day resonates with students.”

“We are proud to honor these teachers for the innovative ways they use agriculture every day in their classrooms to teach students about this important industry,” said Will Fett, president of NAITCO and executive director of Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation.

“Farm Credit’s commitment to rural communities and agriculture extends to our support of initiatives that build the next generation of agriculture advocates,” said president and CEO of the Farm Credit Council Todd Van Hoose. “These outstanding teachers represent the best and brightest ideas in agriculture literacy education. Farm Credit is proud to support their innovative work.”

Puckett and seven other educators from across the country are set to be honored at the 2020 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference “Agriculture Elevated” June 24-26 at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.

For more information about Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom, visit https://www.agclassroom.org/ok/ and to read more about the National AITC winners and the AITC program, visit their website at https://www.agclassroom.org/teacher_award/20.cfm.