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UV Teacher Recognized at National Convention
Jessica DeVries, second from left, revieves her award from Regional Vice President Krista Pontius, Cengage Learning representative Erin Brennan and NAAE President Terry Rieckman.Unadilla Valley’s agriscience teacher Jessica DeVries was one of six educators in the country recognized at the 2016 National Association of Agricultural Educators annual convention in Las Vegas on Dec. 3 with an Ideas Unlimited Award.

DeVries won the 2016 NAAE Ideas Unlimited Award in July and she was recognized a second time at the annual convention, which she attended in-person.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of agricultural and food scientists is projected to grow five percent from 2014 to 2024. This statistic is what made DeVries think about getting her students interested in their food and how it is made.

DeVries developed a project in which her students form cooperative boards for a mock food company. Roles on these boards include advertising and marketing specialists, nutritionists, and packaging designers. Students then create juice and cookie recipes, design packaging and create advertisements for their products. They also learn to calculate nutritional facts for their products and include this information on their packaging.

Her initiative, the Seventh Grade Entrepreneurial Project, was recognized with the Ideas Unlimited Award for her region. DeVries won out against competitors from 14 other states.
During one part of the project, students develop a juice box.

“They design the box with all the proper nutrition labeling,” DeVries said.

A second part of the project involves students creating their own cookie brand.

“They get really creative,” DeVries said.

Blind taste testing and cost analysis is conducted by each group and the students analyze the data to decide which product is most popular. DeVries rewards the group with the highest graded products with a field trip to a local business and lunch out.

In June, UV agriscience teacher Jessica DeVries, who is also the FFA advisor, also won the New York State AgriScience Teacher of the Year Award. This makes her the first teacher from UV to win that award. She received the state award and an initial recognition for the Ideas Unlimited Award the New York State Association of Agricultural Educators Conference.

DeVries is in her 20th year of teaching – 18 of which have been at Unadilla Valley, which has a robust FAA and Ag and Tech program. Students are reaping rewards from that program, according to DeVries.

“Students look forward to hands on learning. There is a lot of group work. There is a lot of independent study,” DeVries said.

Unadilla Valley’s Ag and Tech Program currently offers 39 college credits, which gives students the potential for a significant head start after they graduate high school.
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