A longtime teacher at Pettisville High School has been recognized as one of the top six Agriscience Teachers of the Year.
John Poulson received the National Association of Agricultural Educators Agriscience Teacher of the Year award, given at the NAAE annual convention in Las Vegas Dec. 1
“I am proud to have won the award and humbled because of the number of good students in peers it has taken me to get to this point in my career,” Poulson said to The Village Reporter.
The award recognizes teachers who have inspired and enlightened their students through engaging and interactive lessons in the science of agriculture. Poulson has been a teacher for 34 years, the last 27 at Pettisville.
Students enrolled in agriscience courses at Pettisville learn a variety of topics related to agriculture, which Poulson calls ‘the original science.’ Topics of instruction in his classes include plant propagation, cellular systems in plants, hydroponics, the nitrogen cycle, how pH affects plants, and biodiesel production.
The material is something that has kept his interest over the years.
“The easy hands-on labs that can be used to show how and why plants and animals and other things do what they do,” Poulson said. “Those labs make teaching more enjoyable for me.”
Due to the rigorous coursework in Poulson’s agriculture classes, students can earn science credit for taking them. Many of Poulson’s students also complete agricultural research projects with plants or animals and enter these projects in science fairs, including the FFA’s agriscience fair competition.
“Whether it’s soils, agronomy, animal systems, metal work, food science, or the use of technology [Poulson] continually works to help students learn the application of science in the agricultural topics he teaches,” Donna Meller, a parent of several agriscience students at Pettisville, said. “He has developed a learning environment that provides hands-on learning opportunities in the classroom, shop, and greenhouse. He has had numerous students, including my own children, who have benefited from his mentorship in completing agriscience research projects that have earned them opportunities to compete successfully at numerous regional, state, national, and international science fairs.”
For Poulson, reaching students through challenging coursework is a reward.
“I enjoy questioning and challenging students to think for themselves,” Poulson said. “I want them to understand their potential and use it. When they do that, it makes me proud to have helped them.”
Through his own growth in teaching the subject matter, he has changed the ways he brings the information to his students.
“I use much more project-based learning and much less lecturing and memorization than I did when I started teaching,” Poulson said. “It makes it easier to fit each student’s interest by doing this.”
What’s next for the Teacher of the Year?
“I plan to continue in agriculture education if I can keep up with the schedule,” Poulson said. “Currently I’m facilitating one Ag lab each semester for NSCC/ATI plus my Pettisville classes.”
NAAE is the professional organization in the United States for agricultural educators.
It provides its’ more than 8,000 members with professional networking and development opportunities, professional liability coverage, and extensive awards and recognition programs. The mission of NAAE is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.”
The NAAE headquarters are in Lexington, Ky.
James Pruitt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org