The Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) Foundation is proud to honor Laporte teacher Amy Mastin with the 2018 MAITC Outstanding Teacher Award. Mastin will receive $500 and up to $1,500 to cover travel expenses to attend the 2018 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference.
"Amy Mastin is the kind of teacher that exudes excitement about the food, fiber and fuel systems of agriculture, which helps students get excited about it, too,” said Assistant Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Andrea Vaubel. “Our goal is to help make sure that all students in Minnesota are agriculturally literate and Amy Mastin is accomplishing that goal with her students, other teachers and the community of Laporte."
Mastin began teaching in Laporte, a community with a population of 101, in 2001. After learning that many of her students had not tried a variety of fruits and vegetables due to lack of availability, Mastin started a monthly taste test to encourage students to try something new while teaching the value of fresh foods as part of healthy lifestyle. In 2015, Mastin teamed up with colleagues to start Laporte's first-ever school garden, which consisted of 40 straw bales and donated seeds. Produce was grown and harvested by students, and even used in meals served at school lunches. The excitement about the school garden quickly spread beyond Laporte Elementary, as community members raised $6,000 to purchase lumber for area high schoolers to design and build raised beds. A multigenerational School Garden Club was also formed, consisting of students, teachers and community members.
Mastin has also worked with local farmers and food producers to share their knowledge of agricultural systems with her students, with one producer calling the mentorship the best experience of his farming career. As award sponsor, the MAITC Foundation will send Mastin to the 2018 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, June 26-28, in Portland, Maine.