JoAnn Pfeiffer, agricultural educator at Federal Hocking High School in Stewart, Ohio, is one of only six individuals nationwide who received the Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award at the 2014 National Association of Agricultural Educators annual convention in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 18-22.
The National Agriscience Teacher of the Year award recognizes teachers who have inspired and enlightened their students through engaging and interactive lessons in the science of agriculture.
Pfeiffer has been teaching agriculture for 15 years at Federal Hocking High School. The two-teacher agriculture program is popular — currently reaching half of the students in the high school. The program guides students through inquiry-based projects so they can make connections between science, math and agriculture. Pfeiffer’s goal is to teach students how to think and find answers on their own. She challenges students with a problem, and asks them to consider and test solutions to find the best solution on their own.
Pfeiffer also builds strong partnerships within her school to make her inquiry-based learning model more complete. She now offers her freshman and sophomore agriculture classes as a half science credit, thanks to the strong support from her principal. Pfeiffer finds it important to work with teachers from other subjects to incorporate their lessons into her own. She demonstrates math and science through laboratory experiments and borrows equipment, such as calculators and microscopes, from these two departments to help demonstrate the overlapping concepts between different subject areas for students. Pfeiffer believes agriculture helps make these other subjects relatable to students as they can see how the concepts they learn in those classes are applied to real life when they’re in her classroom.
“Mrs. Pfeiffer is truly an asset to our school and community,” said Cliff Bonner, Federal Hocking Middle/High School principal. “As far as planning and developing curriculum, Mrs. Pfeiffer has not only created a middle school curriculum that now serves as an elective for these students, she has also worked closely with the high school science teachers in order to make connections between the science and the agriculture curriculum in order to bolster our students’ understanding of scientific concepts.”
Each of the six National Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award winners was recognized at the NAAE convention in Nashville, and received a $1500 grant to purchase agriscience supplies and equipment. National Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award winners were also recognized at a general session at the National FFA Convention in October. PotashCorp sponsors the National Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.