For the past 11 years, Johanna Bossard has been a teacher and mentor at Hamilton Central School, empowering students to engage with nature and the environment through her agriculture education classes. Prioritizing hands-on teaching, Johanna designs her agriculture education classes with sustainability at the forefront of her curriculum, hoping to inspire her students to be mindful consumers.
Bossard says, “Not every student is going to grow up to be a farmer or welder, but every kid is going to be a consumer. I want to help raise a generation of informed and educated consumers, because there are so many misconceptions surrounding the agriculture industry.”
Not only is Bossard’s passion for educating her students on the importance of agriculture demonstrated through her class’ welding, gardening, and building projects, but also through her work as an adviser for Hamilton Central School’s National FFA Organization. Through this program, the largest student-run organization in America, Bossard mentors her students in public speaking competitions and agricultural skill contests in addition to helping them develop other leadership skills rooted in an appreciation for agriculture and the environment. Similar to implementing her classroom curriculum, Bossard enjoys being an FFA adviser and sees immense value in this programming, because it demonstrates how agriculture manifests in a wide array of daily practices and how utilizing these skills can help students maintain a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Since the concept of sustainability and different agricultural processes can be challenging for her younger students to conceptualize, Bossard has found success in communicating the main ideas of her lessons by relating these ideas to home practices and students’ lives. For Bossard, it is most important that her students walk away from her class feeling empowered in how they can apply what they have learned to their own lives.
Knowing that each student has varying resources and materials available, Johanna works to make applying agricultural practices as accessible as possible for all students. For example, when teaching about food production, Johanna includes how to build a small patio garden out of home materials like old crates and cartons.
Along with her teaching and advising roles at Hamilton Central School, Johanna also helps to run White Eagle Dairy, a family owned and operated dairy farm. At both Hamilton Central School and her own dairy farm, Johanna strives to live sustainably and inform others on the vast importance and potential for promoting environmentally friendly behaviors that come from learning about agriculture.
Encouraging her students to actively engage with the environment in a sustainable way, Johanna looks forward to continuing garden and agricultural work inside and outside the classroom. Merging the principles of sustainable agriculture with the skills of self-advocacy, problem solving, and resiliency, Johanna continues to impact the lives of countless students and families in the Hamilton community each year.
For students and families that want to learn more about agriculture, at-home gardening, welding, or more, Johanna welcomes all to come visit Hamilton Central School’s garden and greenhouse. Families can show their support of Johanna’s programs by getting involved with the Adopt a Garden program, through which families are responsible for watering and harvesting produce at the garden for one week, or by joining in the fun of the flower bouquet and wreath sales throughout the school year.
Determined to positively influence the lives of her students, Johanna’s eagerness to share the beauty and endless possibilities of agriculture is an inspiration to all Hamilton community members.