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New York Agriculture in the Classroom


2023 Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to our 2023 NYAITC Teacher of the Year
Megan and Clayton Kappauf!
Megan and Clayton Kappauf

New York Agriculture in the Classroom recognizes an exceptional teacher, or teachers, who embody a passion for teaching through a lens of agriculture in their curriculum each year. We are proud to announce Megan and Clayton Kappauf, educators at Oxford Primary School, as the 2023 Teachers of the Year. The Kappaufs have created a unique classroom environment where students are actively engaged in authentic and hands-on learning through integrating food and agriculture, and they are well-deserving of this recognition.

Megan and Clayton Kappauf will be representing New York Agriculture in the Classroom as model educators who incorporates agriculture as a context for learning in their pre-kindergarten and STEAM classrooms in Oxford, New York. The Kappaufs have three aeroponic tower gardens to captivate students, and the towers serve as a tool for a real-world approach to reinforce core academic content in math, science, English, social studies, and art.

Clayton's third grade students help Megan's kindergarten students germinate the seeds for their tower garden, and the third grade students monitor and maintain the tower gardens. By late fall the tower gardens began to produce crops ready for harvest, including a bounty of basil. Using the students' curiosity about basil as a teachable moment, the class learned how to make their own mozzarella cheese and were able to make a student-made snack of caprese salad.

The tower gardens were a gateway to several collaborative and cross-curricular projects. As plants began to flower the need for pollination arose. Students learned about the role the bees and insects play in pollination and then had to learn how to pollinate their plants on the tower garden.

The students were so motivated by growing their own foods that they wanted to build a greenhouse so they could grow even more food. Clayton's class designed and built their greenhouse a little bit each afternoon until it was completed just before the end of the school year.

Megan's students were also excited to expand on what they had been growing. She wrote a grant to purchase three raised beds, a composter, and a vermicomposting system. Her students grew flowers to cheer up their campus, as well as peas and lettuce that could be eaten during the summer reading and math program.

In addition to their state-wide recognition, the Kappaufs also earned the opportunity to apply for the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO), U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) and Farm Credit's 2023 National Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award. These organizations partner each year to honor teachers in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade from around the country for the innovative ways they use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, STEM, STEAM and more. After a rigorous application process, Megan and Clayton Kappauf, were awarded one of the eight national awards this year.

"National Agriculture in the Classroom is honored to recognize and celebrate these talented teachers for their innovative approach to teaching core academic concepts through the lens of food and agriculture," said Katie Carpenter, president of NAITCO and director of New York Agriculture in the Classroom. "Their effort to provide authentic learning experiences for their students is critical to creating an agriculturally literate generation who understands and appreciates the source and value of agriculture in their daily lives."

For their excellence in teaching through agriculture, Megan and Clayton Kappauf will receive an expense-paid professional development experience to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Orlando, Florida, where they will be recognized onstage in front of an audience of over 600 of their peers. This opportunity will allow them to network with educators across the country and be inspired by new classroom resources and tools to teach through and about agriculture.

Past Winners