Teacher Feature – Shelley Lawson

Posted: January 16, 2020


School: Children’s Learning Center, DeKalb

Students: 2 and 3 year-olds

Subjects: Incorporating academics while teaching life skills

Number of years teaching: 11

Farm Bureau/Ag Literacy Connection: I incorporated the Pre-K Barn Kit into my classroom and took my class on a field trip to Carol and Jim Boesche’s dairy farm in the early 1990’s. After returning to teaching last year, I was fortunate enough to be a participant in the Farm Bureau Summer Ag Institute in June.

What is your favorite unit to teach? I like to teach about grain and wheat.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? The enthusiasm of the children! Children as young as two and three-years of age can learn so much, especially if you make it fun!

What is something unique you do in your classroom? I don’t know if it’s especially unique, but in addition to visiting occasional ag related locations on our monthly field trips, I often bring in actual whole crops, weeds, seeds, etc. for hands-on learning. Our center has a garden each year and the children help plant, weed, water and harvest. They eat produce straight from the vine as if it were candy! Just last week I had a child ask why the tomatoes were gone.

Why is it important for students to learn about food and farming? If you are knowledgeable about something, you may respect it more. I feel it is important that our children learn to honor the resources we’ve been given. So many children don’t know food beyond boxes and drive-through bags. Nutritious foods are so very important on so many levels. If we provide children with knowledge about where their food comes from and its value, in the future they may choose to make more educated choices about what they eat and how they care for the resources necessary to acquire those foods.

One memorable teaching story: After participating in the Summer Ag Institute, I incorporated the “Grains” Ag Literacy kit into our curriculum. The kit contains a hand grinder and wheat kernels. Children as young as three used the grinder independently to grind wheat into flour. Once the children saw the kernels become flour, we made wheat bread as a class activity. They were very proud.

How do you inspire students? Anyone who knows me, knows that I love agriculture and farm life. I look at every opportunity as a learning/teaching opportunity; I don’t get caught up in something having to be part of a written plan. Genuine enthusiasm will inspire students and fellow teachers, alike. What people learn they will share…it all begins with exposure. Teach what you love.


Hometown: Rochelle

What did you want to be when you grew up? A dairy farmer, a teacher and a psychologist


Hobbies: Hiking, kayaking adventures, binging documentaries on Netflix, helping with harvest and bottle-feeding calves

Book: “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman

TV show: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

Movie: Shawshank Redemption

Travel destinations: As many national parks as I can possibly visit