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Division of Marketing and Development
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Mayo Building, M-9
407 South Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800
(850) 617-7300

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Adam H. Putnam, Commissioner

March 5, 2010

Two Florida Teachers Win Excellence In Teaching About Agriculture Award For 2010

A Central Florida elementary teacher who uses a school hydroponics garden to educate students and a Tampa Bay area middle school teacher who allows students to role play as farmers have won Florida Agriculture in the Classroom’s 2010 Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award.

John Chybion, a science teacher at Endeavor Elementary Magnet School in Cocoa, teaches science concepts using a hydroponics school garden.  He won the organization’s elementary school level award and the overall Florida award.

Dianna Bone, a sixth grade science teacher at Electa Lee Magnet Middle School in Bradenton, won the organization’s middle school level award.

Both teachers exemplify the type of teachers Florida Agriculture in the Classroom looks for in its Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award. They strive to use agricultural concepts to teach their students science and other lessons.

“We’re lucky to have such high caliber teachers in Florida,” said Vina Jean Banks, chairman and Florida Beef Council representative for Florida Agriculture in the Classroom. “They have learned how effectively agriculture can be used to teach general education subjects. Their students see real-life applications in agriculture for why they need to learn these lessons and they apply themselves more willingly.”

Chybion has taught school for 10 years and has used Florida Agriculture in the Classroom curricula and materials in his classroom for much of that time. In fact, it was teacher grant money from Florida Agriculture in the Classroom that helped fund his school hydroponics garden.

“Because, in part, of the academic improvement and enthusiasm for learning demonstrated by my students, Endeavor’s grant focus included Plants and Animals, thereby establishing the concepts of Agriculture in the Classroom as a ‘mandate’ for the school’s more than 600 students and their teachers,” Chybion wrote referring to a federal grant he helped his school win.

Bone has taught school for 39 years, 10 of which have been spent at Electa Lee Magnet Middle School. To engage students, Bone uses an exercise in which they form several different farming cooperatives. Each cooperative is given $500,000 to start their venture, and each one makes decisions based on different scenarios. “I believe that learning is irrelevant if it cannot be ‘connected’ to something of importance,” Bone wrote.

Chybion and Bone will be honored at Florida Agriculture in the Classroom’s 2010 State Teacher Workshop “Serving Up Florida Agriculture Education” June 17-19 at the TradeWinds Beach Resort on St. Petersburg Beach and at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference “Pioneers of Ag: Sailing into the Future” June 24-26 in Baltimore.

Florida Agriculture in the Classroom is a non-profit organization that is based in Gainesville and charged with helping teachers in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educate students about the Florida agriculture industry. It receives funding from sales of the agriculture specialty license plate called the “Ag Tag.”

For more information:
Lisa Gaskalla
(352) 846-1391

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