Rio Teacher Recognized for Agricultural Literacy Work

Lori Bongert, a fourth-grade teacher at Rio Elementary School in Columbia County, is this year’s recipient of Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program’s Outstanding Teacher Award.

Each year the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation recognizes a teacher for his or her efforts in educating students on the importance of agriculture. Teachers of all grade levels and subject areas, with the exclusion of certified agricultural education instructors, are eligible to apply.

“Lori has been working closely with Columbia County’s Ag in the Classroom Program for many years with the essay contest and using our materials,” said Darlene Arneson, Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom Coordinator.  

Bongert has local farmers visit her classroom and help with commodity presentations on corn, soybeans, and honey. She has hosted the Wisconsin Spudmobile, Alice in Dairyland and Master Gardeners to enhance her lessons and units. She works with agricultural businesses to furnish sweet corn, cranberries and soybeans for her students to use. She previously received a grant to construct a micro-garden wagon which the entire district uses to learn about growing plants.

Bongert earned her bachelor of science degree in education from UW-Platteville and her master’s degree from National Louis University. Growing up on a hog farm near Poynette, she shares her love of agriculture and her experience as Fairest of the Fair in 2002 to develop her students’ understanding of agriculture and where their food comes from. She taught first-grade in her first year at Rio but has taught fourth grade for the past eleven years.

Bongert will be Wisconsin’s nominee for the National Excellence in Teaching Agriculture Award and will receive a $500 sponsorship to attend the 2021 National Ag in the Classroom Conference in Des Moines, IA or to use for educational resources.

For more information about Ag in the Classroom or the Outstanding Teacher Award, contact Darlene Arneson at 608.828.5644.