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April 4, 2013

Local teacher honored for bringing agriculture to the classroom


The Cooperstown teacher will be formally recognized as the 2013 New York Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year at the New York Farm Bureau’s Spring Conference. Bigness said Parr will have the chance to attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Minneapolis, Minn., in June where she will compete to become a nationally recognized Teacher of the Year.

“We are thankful that her sister (who is also a CCS teacher) shared what she has done. Her expeditions should be a model for other teachers across the state,” Bigness added. 

According to an article posted on, Parr’s students learn the scientific concepts of local and global ecology and how to connect them with art through the lens of the Agricultural Expedition, making the impact of her integration of agriculture into her curriculum clear. From plotting acres on her parents’ nearby dairy farm as a math lesson to identifying and drawing aquatic insects as part of life science and art lessons, Parr routinely incorporates real-world concepts about the impact of agriculture on global ecology and health into learning opportunities for her students.   

“When I am in the classroom and start talking about agriculture, the students’ faces light up. They just love it,” Parr said. 

Parr has developed the Agricultural Expedition curriculum, guiding her student’s learning with the question “How do our food choices impact our health and the health of our planet?” The article says Parr’s students gain a better understanding of the ecosystems around them and farmers who support them through the integration of science and art.

Parr said her goal is to have her students look at the farm as a system, and she feels her students learn better from hands-on experiences. 

The ideas included in Parr’s curriculum all stem from growing up on a farm and the sharing of her parents’ dairy heard test sheets. She said the sheets include all of the cows’ names, their milk production for the month, previous milk production and projections to what they should produce the next month, along with other data.

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