Mineral Point teacher recognized for ag literacy work

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom Coordinator Darlene Arenson (left), presents Mineral Point fourth grade teacher Livia Doyle with the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau's Ag in the Classroom Project. Also pictured is Dr. Luke Francois, Superintendent of Mineral Point Schools.

MADISON – Livia Doyle may not be feeding calves, cleaning out calf pens or milking cows these days, but her passion for agriculture remains at the forefront of her life and in her classroom. 

Doyle, a fourth-grade teacher at Mineral Point Elementary School in Iowa County, recently received the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program.

Each year the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation recognizes a teacher for their efforts educating students on the importance of agriculture. Teachers of all grade levels and subject areas, with the exclusion of certified agriculture education instructors, are eligible to apply.
“Livia is everything you could ask for in a teacher and educator,” said Darlene Arneson, Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom Coordinator. “She lives and breathes agriculture and incorporates it when she can in her classroom and in everyday life.”

Growing up on her family's 400 acre dairy farm, Doyle was active in 4-H and FFA, showed dairy cattle at the local and state fair. Her desire to teach and inspire children drew her to the classroom.

"I enjoy sharing my agriculture story, as well as the agriculture story of others, in hopes that my students learn to appreciate and understand the important role agriculture plays in our daily lives," Doyle said.
Doyle earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UW-Platteville with a minor in early childhood, inclusion (special education) and Spanish. She also earned her master’s degree in elementary education from UW-Platteville.

She has taught in the Mineral Point School District since 2010. Doyle taught first-grade for one year and then moved to fourth-grade.

“Livia has used agricultural resources, grants and opportunities to enhance her classroom, school garden project and students’ lives in so many ways,” Arneson added. “Last year her class made history as they successfully lobbied the Wisconsin legislature to make cheese the official Wisconsin dairy product.”

Related:WI Briefs - Cheese state's official dairy product?

Making history

Each September, fourth graders begin the year learning about Wisconsin's state symbols. 

"After much time spent researching and deliberating, our fourth graders could not believe that we did not have a state dairy product," Doyle explained. "We reached out to our area state representative and senator and presented a proposal sharing our reasons as to why cheese should be the next Wisconsin state symbol."

Within days, the idea became a bill and the Mineral Point fourth graders and teachers headed to Madison where a few students testified in front of a joint committee hearing. After the bill unanimously passed the House and Senate, Gov. Scott Walker visited the school and signed the bill into law in front of the students.

"What an unforgettable experience," said Doyle. "The first hand knowledge our students experienced in the political process and the pride we feel in knowing that we made a lasting impact on Wisconsin's dairy industry is truly second to none."

Ag in the Classroom

Doyle is always looking for ways to "weave in activities centered around today’s diverse agriculture industry."

Her students experience making butter and ice-cream, sample real maple syrup and take a field trip to a local farm. Doyle invites local farmers and producers into her classroom as guest speakers and each year students participate in the Farm Bureau's Ag in the Classroom essay contest.

Last November, Doyle invited Lisl Detlefsen, the author of Farm Bureau’s Book of the Year, to the school to share her personal story with the students about producing cranberries in north central Wisconsin.

Last spring Doyle arranged to have the SPUDMobile visit the school so students and teachers could learn more about Wisconsin's potato and vegetable industry. 

"My passion is to continue to find unique and purposeful ways to tie agriculture into the curriculum so that students are aware that agriculture surrounds us each and every day," Doyle added.

Doyle will be Wisconsin’s nominee for the National Excellence in Teaching Agriculture Award and will receive $500 to attend the 2018 National Ag in the Classroom Conference in Portland, Maine.

For more information about Ag in the Classroom or the Outstanding Teacher Award, contact Darlene Arneson at 608.828.5644.