Exeter Union High School ag teacher selected for National Educator Award
EXETER – Nicole Ray, an agricultural educator who taught at Exeter Union High School last year, is one of only six individuals nationwide who received the National Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award. The award was presented on Dec. 7 at the 2017 National Association of Agricultural Educators annual convention in Nashville.
The award recognizes teachers who have inspired and enlightened their students through engaging and interactive lessons in the science of agriculture.
Ray, who took a position with the Tulare County Office of Education this school year, used inquiry-based learning techniques to keep her courses relevant and rigorous. She provides the basic objective for a lesson, then requires students to determine a question to research. Students also learn about a variety of research methods, data collection techniques, and for each new lesson they are responsible for choosing appropriate techniques to draw and defend their own conclusions.
The Exeter agriculture program has many facilities that allow students to get hands-on experience, including a commercial egg incubator, test plots, compost bins, and greenhouses. Ray also uses the school farm to support both students in Exeter’s FFA chapter and those in surrounding FFA chapters. Exeter agriculture students raise and wean sheep on the school farm and learn animal husbandry skills, biosecurity and low stress handling techniques. After the sheep are weaned, they are sold to Exeter FFA members as well as members from surrounding FFA chapters to show at the county fair.
Ray facilitates partnerships with community members to help students with agriscience research projects, field trips, and trainings for career development events. CDEs are individual and group competitive experiences through FFA where students use the skills they learn in the agriculture classroom. Through these experiences students are able to learn real world applications for their in-class lessons, build their employable skills, and garner community support.