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Opinion by Jessie Dafoe

Wyoming Grown By Jessie DaFoe, Wyoming Ag in the Classroom Executive Director

Students may be out for the summer, but Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom (WAIC) is hard at work preparing for their return this fall. We couldn’t be more excited with the work we started this past year to create a comprehensive agriculture and natural resource K-12 curriculum. With the tremendous support from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission, we piloted our first phase of kindergarten curriculum in seven classrooms and intend to pilot first grade this coming fall while increasing the number of kindergarten classrooms involved.  

Teachers receive a kit with agriculture, natural resource and energy lessons that include all materials necessary to complete a lesson. The curriculum utilizes technology while aligning to common core and the national science standards, so it is not additional work for educators to find spare time in their day, but provides a real-world application for teaching project-based learning in classrooms.

This summer our main focus is to create a fourth grade curriculum that focuses on the history, agriculture, natural resource and energy production of each county. This fall our objective is to pilot in 10 counties, videotape fourth grade classes teaching about their county and load their lesson on our website to encourage peer teaching. The fourth graders from Uinta County will be able to log on and learn about Laramie County from other fourth graders. We believe this collaboration and project-based learning will empower students not only to value, but take responsibility for their exciting part in understanding the vast and important resources Wyoming holds.

As we work through this curriculum we are motivated by the opportunity and challenge of growing Wyoming’s leaders. We believe this curriculum to be a game changer for Wyoming’s students and do not take this task lightly. This fall we will be reviewing the overall curriculum map and hope for your input and discussion. A project this large only works when you have invested partners. We appreciate all the support, resources and collaboration that has happened thus far and continuing each day. 

We will premier county videos this winter and have a strong curriculum map to continue lesson development throughout the grades. It is a pivotal time for agriculture, natural resources and energy to enter the classroom together to educate and grow our next generation of Wyoming’s stewards. We hope you join us on this journey. 

Since 1986, Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom (WAIC) has served as an educational resource for Wyoming focusing on critical thinking, problem solving and hands on learning. Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom’s many educational resources include: agriculture and natural resource K-12 curriculum, educator institutes, student workshops, educational grants and recognizing student and educator achievement. Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom is committed to growing Wyoming’s next generation. Learn more at wyomingagclassroom.org or call 307-369-1749.