Cream of the crop

With a focus on hands-on learning and giving students opportunities through community partnerships, Oregon High School agriculture education teacher Jillian Beatty has built a reputation as one of the finest educators in the Oregon School District.

That territory has just been expanded.

Beatty, in her ninth year at OHS after previously teaching in the Van Buren, Brodhead and Delavan-Darien school districts, was recently selected as the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators’ Outstanding Agriculture Educator for section 5 (Dane, Rock and Green counties). She was nominated by her peers around the state for the quality of educational opportunities in the classroom, FFA (she is the adviser) and work to school programs, Beatty told the Observer last week. The official announcement from the group will come in June, she said.

“That was kind of exciting,” she said. “It looks at your whole lifetime of teaching, so for me, 21 years – what’s your philosophy, how do you continue to stay current and innovative and encourage student growth. (It’s) trying to help your students be the most well rounded.”

For Beatty, finding connections for students outside the classroom is a high priority. To that end, she’s created an advisory panel comprising local agriculture business owners, and consults them whenever needed.

“I’ll see what their thoughts are on how should I best implement content, or is there a way I should focus it to make sure we’re preparing our students for the workforce or post secondary school in a field in agriculture,” she said. “I can help make sure our students have the skills employers are looking for, and it’s great for students to have that work experience where they can start considering, ‘Is this a job I want to go to?’”

OHS principal Jim Pliner said Beatty “loves her students as much as what she teaches,” and is focused on providing them with real-world agriculture education.

“Whether in the greenhouse or in the animal lab, students get hands-on learning experiences that prepares them to be stewards for the environment,” Pliner wrote the Observer in an email. “(She) is passionate about agriculture education and is a leader in her association.”

Beatty called teaching at OHS a “treat,” citing the school’s innovative, ideas-based approach.

“I love how the school is thinking outside the box at what can really make a difference in students’ lives,” she said. “That has been really fun as a teacher to work in this environment where you can be creative, you can take ideas and create a path that is most remarkable for our students.”

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at