SAN ANTONIO – Samantha Reese, agricultural educator at Wiley High School in Wiley, Colo., is one of only six individuals nationwide who received the National Association of Agricultural Educators Ideas Unlimited Award at the NAAE annual convention in San Antonio, Texas on November 29.

The Ideas Unlimited Award gives NAAE members an opportunity to exchange teaching ideas. Winning ideas are selected by members’ peers at NAAE regional conferences.

Agricultural education focuses on combining classroom and laboratory instruction with real world applications. For many students, using models and technology can be some of the best ways to develop a firmer understanding of material because it affords them the opportunity for hands-on experiences. Sometimes, teachers must seek innovative solutions to allow students the possibility for these practical applications.

Reese possesses the inventive mindset it takes to create learning opportunities for her students. After assessing Wiley’s agricultural budget, Reese realized she could challenge her students to use their problem solving skills to create a model that would allow them to simulate artificial insemination, or AI, of a cow. Using such items as plywood, a Tupperware tub, tire tubes, a foam football, toddler sweatpants, Duct Tape, and Velcro, Reese and her students were able to develop a model simulating the cow’s reproductive tract for less than $80. This teacher-student innovation saved the program from spending over $1,500 on a similar model.

By creating this design first-hand, students gained an “inside” look at a skill they must learn to master by the sense of touch. Using quick thinking and trusting her students’ creativity, Reese added value to her program. This is also created opportunities when no live animals or reproductive tracts were available, thus improving students’ knowledge and abilities.

Each of the Ideas Unlimited winners was recognized at the NAAE convention in San Antonio. National Geographic Learning | Cengage Learning sponsors the Ideas Unlimited Award.

NAAE is the professional association for agricultural educators with over 8,000 members nationwide. Its mission is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.”  The NAAE office is located in Lexington, Kentucky.