By Emily Hanlin

SUBMITTED PHOTO Belvidere Daily Republican
The Winnebago County Ag in the Classroom award-winning teacher is Erikka Colleta of Stone Creek Elementary in Roscoe.

Ag Communications, Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau

The Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom (AITC) program presented their Teacher of the Year awards to two local elementary school teachers. The Winnebago County teacher is Erikka Colleta of Stone Creek Elementary in Roscoe. The Boone County teacher is Tina Babcock of Poplar Grove Elementary.

The award was inspired by its first recipient Estella Crespo. Ms. Crespo, who works in the Rockford Public School District, was honored for her consistent dedication to the AITC program. For the past two years, the Farm Bureau has honored teachers who show similar enthusiasm and commitment to the program.

After spending some time in business, Erikka Colleta decided she wanted to make a difference with her work. So, she decided to teach. She has been teaching for 18 years in the Kinnikinnick School District. During that time, she has definitely made a difference in the lives of many children. Colleta saw her own kids benefit from AITC, so she decided to implement it into her classroom. “Roscoe is a rural area, but most of my students don’t have a connection to agriculture,” said Colleta, “They need to experience it and seeing products in their pure form helps a lot.”

AITC aligns well with Next Generation Science Standards and most of their lessons have a STEM approach. Their AG MAG reading materials promote nonfiction reading and comprehension. Colleta has seen this positively impact her classroom and her students’ ability to apply what they learn to real life. “My students can now make connections between what they see in the grocery store and where it comes from,” said Colleta, “They even know how agriculture impacts the economy.”

Tina Babcock, who has a background in agriculture through her family’s 4-H and Farm Bureau experiences, organizes Ag in the

SUBMITTED PHOTO Belvidere Daily Republican
The Boone County Ag in the Classroom award-winning teacher is Tina Babcock of Poplar Grove Elementary

Classroom for three third-grade classes in Poplar Grove. “All of the students have benefited from lessons in agriculture on a variety of topics during the school year,” said Babcock.

She has seen the AITC program add to her curriculum. “They connect what they’ve learned in AITC presentations to texts, class discussions, and experiences outside of school. In the last unit of our social studies curriculum, we focus on agriculture in our area as well as in other regions of the country,” said Babcock. Through her over 20 years of teaching, she has found that “students do not know what we think they ought to know about agriculture.” AITC is able to help bridge the gap between everyday life and production agriculture right in her classroom.

“Both of these teachers have worked very hard to help their students learn about today’s agriculture and understand how much agriculture impacts their daily lives”, said Diane Cleland, Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau AITC Coordinator, “We look forward to working with both teachers in the years to come.”

Mrs. Colleta and Mrs. Babcock have made an impact on so many students during their time as teachers and…

For complete article, pick up the June 6 BDR.

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