By Cindy Wilson

VBC Farm Bureau Women’s Committee

Lori Rooney, Family and Consumer Science teacher at South Side High School in Van Buren County, is the 2013 Arkansas Ag-in-the-Classroom Outstanding Teacher.

Rooney received the award April 3 during a special assembly at school with fellow teachers, administrators and students in attendance as Arkansas Farm Bureau leaders made the presentation.

Every year an Arkansas teacher is recognized with a plaque commemorating the honor. These teachers successfully integrate agricultural concepts into their curricula to teach students about how agriculture fits into their daily lives. Rooney exemplified this by stating, "Being the leading industry in Arkansas, it is vital for me to express to my students the importance of agriculture and how it plays such a big role in everyone’s daily life. It is a part of everything around us from the foods we eat, the clothes we wear, to the fuel in our vehicles."

Rooney utilizes unique and innovative approaches to advance agricultural awareness in her classroom. Her classes include food and nutrition labs, career orientation, nutrition and wellness, family and consumer science, leadership and service learning, child development and human relations. She offers activities and projects both in class and outside the classroom integrating field trips and guest speakers. Her students compete in both state and county contests and the district and state STARS events for FACS students winning state and national recognition.

Rooney received an expense-paid trip to Minneapolis to represent Arkansas at the National Ag-in-the-Classroom Conference in June. While there she will be able to network with other teachers selected to represent their states. She will attend workshops, learning labs, agriculture traveling tours, and hear speakers. She also will experience the selection of the National AITC Teacher of the Year Awards. In addition to her trip she was given a check for $500.