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Education

Wyoming Ag In Classroom celebrates 25 years

Written by Christy Martinez
Casper – On Dec. 13, Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom (WAIC) will come together to remember and celebrate those who have helped the organization through the last 25 years.
    “It’s a chance to honor the history and tradition, and we’ve invited past board members and people who have been influential in making Ag in the Classroom what it is today,” says WAIC Executive Director Jessie Dafoe.
    In addition, Dafoe says the evening program, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will be a chance to be a part of the new kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum that WAIC is developing. The event will be a part of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association winter convention, and WAIC will have a few items in the evening’s auction to raise funds for the new curriculum development.
    “The key to the curriculum is to give kids in kindergarten through high school not just the knowledge base of agriculture in economics, world trade and other complex subjects, but also to take those skills and critically think with them to apply them to problems in the future, so that as new things pop up 30 years from now our future leaders can step in with the knowledge base and critical skills,” says WAIC board member Dennis Ellis.
    Dafoe says WAIC started with a three-year plan to develop Wyoming’s own K-12 curriculum.
    WAIC board president Mantha Phillips says that when they decided to develop the curriculum they didn’t know that at the national level Ag in the Classroom was thinking the same thing.
    “A professor at the University of Minnesota was on the very same track,” she says. “We’ll join efforts, and we’ll help them financially with some of our dollars to develop the framework for the nation on Ag in the Classroom.”
    “We’ll join with them and create an entire framework for our curriculum within one year and start field testing next fall,” says Dafoe. “We’re excited to streamline the process.”
    “While we want to have a Wyoming emphasis on everything we do in our state, this is a national and worldwide issue,” continues Dafoe. “This partnership will be beneficial to our students and to all other students, because Wyoming offers a lot of the topics and issues faced by the entire nation.”
    “Wyoming will be one of the first pilot states in the country for field testing on the framework of the new curriculum,” says Phillips, noting that a dozen years ago USDA developed curriculum with an ag emphasis, instead of going to a classroom based on what the teachers needed for education purposes. “We’ve turned it around with curriculum that meets all the standards and benchmarks that has an emphasis on agriculture.”
    Dafoe adds that almost all of the 50 states have adopted common core standards.
    “Teachers are looking for curriculum to put in the classrooms right away, and if we’re first to the gate, we can offer our curriculum to them,” she notes. “We’re trying to make sure we have all the common core standards and benchmarks met so our curriculum is an education tool that teachers want to use. It will have an education focus with an ag emphasis, so it’s not something additional that teachers have to do, but something they can use to supplement.”
    To hear about the past and present of WAIC, attend the 25th anniversary celebration, which has an open invitation. Anyone not registered for the WSGA convention is asked to RSVP to Dafoe for a head count at 307-421-4341 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
    Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..