Kimberly Houser, the agricultural education teacher at the Wisconsin Heights Middle/High School, works hard to ensure students see the bigger picture in everything they do.
In the area of Career and Technical Education, an overarching goal is to make classroom concepts applicable to students’ lives. Students participate in hands-on activities and enjoy the variety of units taught among classes offered, along with opportunities to participate through the FFA club.
“I cover topics so the students can take something from class and use it at home or in a future career,” Houser says. She finds ways for coursework in agricultural leadership, greenhouse management, small and large animal care, and wildlife management, to inform students’ interests, hobbies, and even civic lives outside of the classroom setting.
From grooming pets to planting gardens, to training bonsai trees, Houser strives to find a connection with all of her students. In her Small Animal Care class, she makes sure to find out what kinds of pets students might have in order to teach them how to give physical exams or perform appropriate restraint techniques. She has even had a local breeder bring in a litter of puppies to teach students so that they can use what they learn at home.
These connections grow beyond the agricultural education classroom and greenhouse. Houser says “There have been numerous times that I have had English teachers learn about how much the FFA means to students from papers that are written or just conversations in class.”
Houser also shares what takes place in her classroom through social media. When she first started using social media as a platform to showcase student work, she says, “I was just excited about what was going on in my school day and was sharing it.” Now, parents, teachers, and community members get to see how students view school through an agricultural education lens. The experiences students gain in agricultural education are allowed live in other spaces, further honoring students’ backgrounds, values, and futures.