Two Oklahoma teachers are among 40 K-12 teachers from around the United States selected to receive scholarships from the CHS Foundation to attend the 2018 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference “Agriculture for ME on Land and Sea” scheduled for June 27-29 in Portland, Maine.

Selected from Oklahoma were Debra Deskin, a gifted and talented program teacher at Orvis Risner and Charles Haskell in Edmond, and Michelle Spurgin, first grade teacher at Mark Twain Elementary in Duncan.

Deskin has used Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom activities in her classroom for many years. She has presented workshops about how she uses AITC at her school, in her school district, and at the State and National AITC Conferences. She has presented workshops about STEM, literacy, science, geography and math.

“Her workshops are always full and her enthusiasm about agriculture is contagious,” Audrey Harmon, State Coordinator Agriculture in the Classroom, said. “Teachers leave her workshops eager to spread the message of agriculture across the state in their own classrooms.”

Oklahoma AITC and Oklahoma Horizons TV have both featured Deskin’s classroom as an example of a teacher excelling at spreading the message of agriculture. In 2017 she was named the Oklahoma AITC State Teacher of the Year.

Spurgin has been using Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom since 2015 when she attended her first “On the Road with Ag in the Classroom” summer tour to eastern Oklahoma. Spurgin decided to apply for the CHS Scholarship because she wanted to attend a National Ag in the Classroom Conference for the first time.  Spurgin said she uses AITC because she “feels her students need to know where their food and goods come from, most just think it comes from Walmart and don’t think about the farmer and how the process starts.” 

Spurgin said, “Ag in the Classroom has also helped me find resources to bring to our school like the Southwest Farmers dairy cow presentation and Farm to You.  Plus I just love it.  I’ve been around agriculture all my life.  I want my classroom kids to get as much knowledge about our state and its resources as I have.”  

The 40 K-12 teachers were selected for their desire to learn more innovative ways to use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science and social studies and more. Onsite and traveling workshops at the conference will provide these teachers with demonstrations of how effective the use of agricultural concepts in classroom instruction can be. In addition, teachers will network with other educators who have a passion for K-12 agricultural literacy.

The teachers selected will receive scholarships to the conference, which covers early registration of $435.

“We’re happy to assist teachers who are interested in educating their students about agriculture by helping them attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference,” said Nanci Lilja, president of CHS Foundation. “The CHS Foundation is committed to developing agriculture leaders for life and these teachers introduce students to the industry and spark interest in agriculture careers.”

The CHS Foundation has provided these scholarships to teachers since 2013.

“Thanks to the CHS Foundation we are able to involve even more teachers in the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference,” said Willie Grenier, president of the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) and executive director of Maine Agriculture in the Classroom. “NAITCO highly values partnerships like the one it has with the CHS Foundation, which helps us expand its K-12 agricultural literacy outreach to many more teachers across the country.”

More information about the CHS Foundation and National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO):

The CHS Foundation is funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company. The CHS Foundation is focused on developing a new generation of agriculture leaders. We are achieving our goals through these strategic initiatives: advancing innovation in cooperative education, cultivating opportunity through university partnerships, growing high-impact youth leadership programs and accelerating potential for careers in agriculture. Together with our signature partners, we develop ag leaders for life. For more information on CHS Foundation programs, please visit .

NAITCO is a non-profit organization made up of Agriculture in the Classroom programs in most of the 50 states and six territories. Its mission is to educate teachers and students in kindergarten through 12th grade about the importance of agriculture by incorporating agricultural concepts into classroom instruction.