Excellence in Teaching Agriculture Award

Farm To Table: Colinas del Norte Teacher Makes the Connection
Posted on 11/20/2018

For the past ten years Cindy Shafer, a fifth-grade teacher at Colinas del Norte Elementary has found ways to cultivate a love of agriculture in her students. It is for this dedication, and introduction of agricultural concepts across the curriculum, that the New Mexico Ag in the Classroom (NMAITC) program recognized her as their 2018 Teacher of the Year.

Rio Rancho may not be known for farming and ranching, but agriculture is an important industry in much of the state (Hatch chile, anyone?) and touches all of us. Ms. Shafer's classroom lessons help students learn how what happens in our ecosystems and on the farm connects with their daily lives. Ms. Shafer’s classroom is one of six 4-H classrooms in Sandoval County, and she collaborates with the Sandoval County Cooperative Extension Service on a number of 4-H programs:

Ms. Shafer and students with hydrophonic garden
  • RiverXchange is a fifteen-week outreach program that integrates water resource topics with computer technology, hands-on curriculum, and classroom partnerships. Students are engaged through hands-on activities related to farm irrigation systems and conservation technology.  In this photo, Ms. Shafer and some of her students work on a hydroponic garden.  
  • Egg to Chick introduces students to the concept of embryology, candling, incubation process, hatching, care of live chicks and poultry production. As a result, a number of her students have started raising chickens for egg production and are learning business skills through egg sales.
Cindy Shafer Receives Ag AwardMs. Shafer recently instituted 4-H Fridays where students experience hands-on activities such as butter making where they learn about the dairy industry and food safety.

The New Mexico Agriculture in the Classroom Excellence in Teaching Award is presented by NMAITC, an education outreach proram of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau.  In the photo at left, Ms. Shafer (second from left) receives her trophy belt buckle.  In winning the award, Ms. Shafer now moves on to compete for national honors.