MORRISON, Okla. — Engaging, motivating, educating and encouraging students is what this year’s Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year, Tammy Will, is known for.
Will, who has taught at Morrison Public Schools for 14 years, has pursued AITC in many ways including attending countless workshops, tours and conferences across the state.
Will’s agriculture roots run deep and early in her teaching career, she quickly learned pairing her experience in the industry with teaching would open a world of possibilities to her students.
“I quickly learned that even though my students come from rural backgrounds, they have little understanding of agriculture production and processes,” Will said. “One day, I discussed a lesson that involved farming practices. As I began to explain what I thought was common knowledge, it was clear that my student’s curiosity was driving the discussion.”
After this discussion, Will quickly began to look for resources to include in her curriculum that would provide her students with a better understanding of agriculture.
“I began by teaching my eighth grade students about soil pH using cabbage indicators in the lesson ‘Bubbles in Cabbage Juice,’” Wills said. “My classes loved the hands-on labs. Another day, I brought stalks of wheat from our farm to discuss how it grows, where to locate seeds and extract wheat DNA in the ‘Hunger Fighter’ lesson.”
Will teaches chemistry, physical science and STEM classes and said the AITC lessons are impactful on her students and they wait in anticipation when she is setting up labs.
“Teaching AITC lessons to my classes has definitely helped make connections in agriculture literacy,” Will said. “Whether I sort my students into ‘Houses of Agriculture’ or use bulletin boards with agriculture careers, there continues to be an effort to educate my students. My desire is to help them become agriculture literate and to communicate the society significance of agriculture.”
Will has even created a hashtag to help showcase the correlation between science and agriculture.
“About 6 years ago, I was learning to use twitter for my classroom activities and was told I needed a hashtag,” Will said. “I integrate a lot of farming concepts in my class and being a rural school, I began to think about what describes my classroom. My hashtag became #farmtownscience.”
Will said she is working with her school’s agricultural teachers to organize Ag Day festivities. She said students will have the opportunity to speak with local farmers about their backgrounds and see agricultural equipment in person.
“Mrs. Will has a great passion for agriculture and very often uses agriculture to bring science to life for her students,” said Brent Haken, Morrison Public Schools Superintendent.
Will has won many honors and awards including: 2019 AITC Teacher of the Year Finalist, 2019 roundtable member for the U.S. Congress Science, Space and Technology Committee for Rural STEM and the 2019 Tulsa Great Raft Race STEM Class Best in Show.
“She has brought professionalism, creativity, and life to faculty and students alike,” said Haken. “We are fortunate to have such a great role model for our students and she brings her best every day for the students.”
Tammy Will is to be honored at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City as part of the state’s annual Oklahoma Ag Day celebration Tuesday, April 14. Teacher of the Year sponsors include Oklahoma Ag Credit, Oklahoma Beef Council, Oklahoma Farm Bureau Women, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry.