Califonia Bountiful

Helen Reavis

1st-6th Grade Teacher
Northwood Elementary
Napa County

This interview was originally published on CFAITC's blog, "The Fencepost."

How and when did you first learn of Ag in the Classroom?

I think I first learned about AITC approximately 10 years ago through a school district email that I received. I was curious and started attending various events sponsored by the Foundation.  

How long have you been teaching students and why did you choose to become an educator?  
I have been teaching for about 25 years. I have always loved being with children and, when my sons were young, I worked in their classrooms and closely observed their teachers. I then became a substitute teacher and eventually became hooked on the profession.

What is your favorite AITC program/resource/event and why?  
My favorite events are the wonderful conferences offered by AITC. I have had the opportunity to attend four conferences and am thoroughly impressed with the quality of these events. The field trips are wonderful and interesting, the speakers delightful, the accommodations excellent, and the people I have met are genuine, interesting, and well-informed.

What is the most profound impact that agriculture education/awareness has had on you and how does that impact the way you educate students?  
I teach second grade in the Napa Valley. The California social studies curriculum emphasizes local community and I find many opportunities to teach my students about our agricultural connection. Having access to all of the resources available through AITC has made my job that much easier.

Tell us about a golden teaching moment.
There are so many great moments one reflects upon after years of teaching that it is difficult to pick one, but seeing children discover what can be planted and grown in our small garden is always so rewarding. I love to look at the expressions of the children when they pull a carrot, turnip, or other root vegetable from the ground.

Describe any agriculture-based projects you have been involved in lately.
My friend, Nancy Booth, and I designed two garden plots and had my brother build two raised beds at our school. His original design for these beds included false bottoms of corrugated metal, punched with holes for drainage. The metal acts as a barrier for the many critters that were invading our previous gardens. My brother used recycled materials (as much as possible), made the beds "kid friendly," and donated all of his time. We are very proud of these beds!

Do you have any advice for other teachers on implementing agriculture into the classroom?
Yes: keep it simple. Do what is right for you at your site and ask people for help. If you can fit agriculture into your classroom curriculum, the rewards are manifold.

Why do you believe it is important for our students to be agriculturally literate and aware in today's society?  
Knowing where our food and other agricultural products come from is essential knowledge for our 21st century students. In order for them to prosper and be healthy in the future, they need access to resources that will keep them well informed about these matters.  

Follow us on: Facebook Twitter YouTube Pinterest Pinterest