Elementary Education students get teaching experience at NC Farm Bureau Agricultural Fair

North Carolina Ag in the Classroom (AITC) is an annual program put on across the state each year in association with the North Carolina Farm Bureau (NCFB). The event, which began in the 1980s, focuses its efforts on educating kindergarten through eighth grade students about the agricultural industry.  

While this program serves as a valuable hands-on educational experience for elementary and middle school students each year, this year’s AITC fair in Spruce Pine, North Carolina also served as an experiential learning opportunity for future teachers in the Lees-McRae Elementary Education program. 

Rising sophomore Maddison Campo and rising senior Ashleigh Finley are two Elementary Education majors who participated in the event. Each student teacher had their own booth set up at the fair and gave a short lesson to students who stopped by the stations. 

Approximately 150 students attended the fair and were broken up into groups of about 10, allowing the Lees-McRae students to give their presentations multiple times.  

“We started planning a month or so in advance. I did an agricultural careers booth where I taught about all the different careers in agriculture. I chose five different types of careers including large animal vets, botanists or plant scientists, produce buyers, and farmers,” Finley said. “Just us all planning it together and talking through how we’re going to organize our lessons was definitely a fun thing to do, team-building-wise, with my friends.” 

Campo’s booth focused on how to plant seeds, while other booths included food groups, how to correctly portion a healthy meal, and composting methods. While they were serving as the instructors, both Finley and Campo agreed that this was a learning experience for them as well. 

The Lees-McRae students were initially told to prepare 20−30 minutes of instructional material per booth but said that on the day of the event their instructional time was nearly cut in half.  

“In my opinion, what we got to work on as teaching students was the ability to adapt to different environments. In my first group I didn’t get all my information out because what I had planned on doing was so much longer than the time we were actually given,” Campo said. “The ability to adapt and deal with kids I’ve never met before was important. I think it just taught us to adapt to a completely different situation and be able to throw ourselves out there and still be successful.” 

Finley agreed that adaptability is an important skill in Elementary Education, and one that is often easiest to acquire through hands-on learning opportunities like AITC. 

“It was good to learn how to manage a group like that, and plan for managing a group like that. Just learning to be flexible in that type of environment was important,” Finley said.Things change in the classroom all the time, and there are definitely days where you’re not able to get your entire lesson in, or you have to change a lesson or go back a lesson, so being flexible as a teacher is an incredibly important skill.” 

(Main photo: Courtesy of Mitchell News-Journal)
(Article photos: Courtesy of North Carolina Farm Bureau)

By Maya JarrellMay 23, 2022