Califonia Bountiful

Debbi Hoy

6th-8th grade teacher, Grenada Elementary School, Siskiyou County

This interview was originally published in the September 2010 issue of CFAITC's e-newsletter, "Cream of the Crop."

How long have you been teaching or working with students?
This is my 10th year teaching. I taught math and science for my first three years at Grenada Elementary School and have been teaching language arts since then.

Why did you choose to become an educator?
I became an educator because I had excellent teachers at Weed Elementary School and Weed High School who inspired me.

How do you integrate agriculture into the curriculum or activities you teach?
Agriculture education is nearly daily in my classroom. In reading literature, there are always ag references that help students make connections to the reading. In discussions, ag comes up because so many of my students are involved in agriculture when they go home as a majority of them live on a ranch, like me, or their parents are involved in the timber industry.

Describe any innovative agriculture-based projects you have been involved in developing.
The Imagine this... essay contest takes over our lives for a few months in the fall. I have a whole curriculum that I created to keep the students interested in ag as many of them don't know a whole lot about where most of their food comes from.

Give an example of how you use agriculture to teach in your classroom or in your program.
As part of the standards, I have my students do a lot of public speaking and one of the easiest ways to get them comfortable is talking about themselves. So on Mondays, we have the "Weekend Wrap-Up" where the students get to share what they did that weekend. These are great times to have students educate their peers on ag in their lives. From these stories, students can jump to the essay writing or get an idea for their story.

Tell us about one person who has most influenced your own education and educational career.
There are many people who have influenced me but one who stands out is my dad, Bill Hoy. Dad has been my loudest cheerleader my whole life. He has the ability to find the positive in any situation so when I was getting my credential, working full time and raising my two daughters, Dad reminded me that things could only get better. He was so right, things are fabulous.

Tell us about a golden teaching moment.
My student Tyler Sweet wrote "Pig Pride" for his Imagine this... entry when he was in the 7th grade. He won at the state level and a movie was made. I was so proud of Tyler's accomplishment, impressed by the amazing treatment we received from Ag in the Classroom and honored to be a part of that young man's educational career. I still get misty thinking of that evening at the Farm Bureau building in Sacramento when we saw "Pig Pride" for the first time. It was a special, special moment.

Note: Watch the "Pig Pride" video, created in 2004, at State-winning stories since 2007 are illustrated and published in book format.

What is your favorite AITC program/resource/event and why?
The essay contest!!! We love the Imagine this... contest at Grenada. The students have the role models of our six previous state winners, they get to be really out-of-the-box creative and they get to stretch their writing skills. The essay contest hits on all the important levels.

Why is it important for our students to be agriculturally literate and aware in today's society?
If students don't know where their food comes from and how it is produced, they won't know to care that our water is being taken away. If they realize that food production is being threatened, then they will be aware enough to be a vocal, informed member of society.

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