We asked Don Borges, an agriculture teacher at high school, community college and university levels in Stanislaus County, about his experiences with agriculture education.
How and when did you first learn of Ag in the Classroom?
I’ve been involved with agricultural literacy since the beginning of my career more than 25 years ago. During my first year of teaching, we had an advisory committee member that worked at Stanislaus County Farm Bureau and he introduced me to AITC.
How long have you been teaching students and why did you choose to become an educator?
I’ve been teaching agricultural education for more than 25 years. I began my college education in natural resources wanting to be “Ranger Rick;” however three college instructors—Homer Bowen, Harold Whaley and Mark Bender—had other thoughts for my future. They called it guided evolution; little did I know that I was heading down the path to become an agricultural instructor.
What is your favorite AITC program/resource/event and why?
The California AITC Conference provides a great opportunity to network and gain ideas and resources.
What is the most profound impact that agriculture education/awareness has had on you?
It’s motivating! Whether I’m working on school gardens with elementary school students or adults, the hands-on, applied approach is the best way to teach.
Has agriculture continued to impact the way you educate students?
It impacts me daily. I recently taught a class at California State University, Stanislaus entitled “Agriculture, Environment and the Natural World.” Some of these students are agriculture majors, while others vary. This provides for great discussion and an opportunity to teach agricultural literacy at the adult level.
Tell us about a golden teaching moment.
Having my children involved in 4-H and FFA are golden teaching moments. These programs are helping children develop into well-rounded individuals. I am also the community leader for Hughson 4-H, and being able to teach my former students’ children through 4-H leads to golden teaching moments!
Describe any agriculture-based projects you have been involved in lately.
Lately, I have been involved in school gardens. By encouraging and supporting gardens, we create opportunities for our children to discover fresh food, make healthier food choices, and become better nourished. Gardens offer dynamic, beautiful settings in which to integrate every discipline, including science, math, reading, environmental studies, nutrition and health. Such interdisciplinary approaches cultivate the talents and skills of all students, while enriching the students’ capacities of observation and critical thinking.
Do you have any advice for other teachers on implementing agriculture into the classroom?
“JUST DO IT!”
Why do you believe it is important for our students to be agriculturally literate and aware in today’s society?
We all have two things in common: We all eat, and we all have the opportunity to vote.