Jessica Rettler has been named the 2022 Wisconsin Agriculture in the Classroom Outstanding Educator. Rettler is a fourth-grade educator at Tri-County Elementary School in Plainfield. The Outstanding Educator Award honors K-12 educators who work to enhance student learning and achievement in core subjects while increasing student awareness and understanding of the important role agriculture plays in students’ daily lives.
“I believe human survival and sustainability rely upon agricultural literacy,” Jessica stated in her application. “The basic needs of air, food, water and protection from environmental dangers sustain life. Agriculture is key to those basic needs. By increasing the level of any form of literacy, we empower others to make good choices.”
For the past 21 years, Rettler has integrated agricultural literacy into her classroom by staying current on past and present agricultural practices, as well as sharing personal experiences and values from her family farm. Casual conversations and well-planned lessons are a part of her daily teaching. Rettler has integrated agriculture into almost every core subject allowing her students to improve their reading, writing and problem-solving skills through partnerships with Wisconsin Agriculture in the Classroom, Adopt-A-Cow classroom program, and Hancock Agricultural Research Station.
While being a farmer and a teacher are not required to bring agriculture to the classroom, it has certainly helped Jessica’s efforts. Her family’s farm has provided produce for the school’s lunch program which has sparked conversations and young minds alike about how food is produced and the farmers who are raising and growing it.
“I can’t think of a better way to spend my life than teaching, farming and inspiring others to be healthy, happy, helpful, and good stewards of the land. We are what we eat: mind, body, and soul,” said Rettler.
Rettler received a plaque and prize package valued at over $1700 and will represent Wisconsin as the state’s nominee for the Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award Program presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ag in the Classroom program. The national winners will be announced at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Orlando, June 26-30, 2023.