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NEO Agriculture Ambassadors volunteer at Washington Elementary - KOAM TV 7

NEO Agriculture Ambassadors volunteer at Washington Elementary

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Kelsey Matthews, NEO sophomore, is reading to Ms. Traci Eden’s kindergarten class at Washington Elementary.  Elementary students pictured from left to right include: Maddox Mercer, Ryder Oakley, Holly Christman, Ethan Weaver and Arkis Sikara. Kelsey Matthews, NEO sophomore, is reading to Ms. Traci Eden’s kindergarten class at Washington Elementary. Elementary students pictured from left to right include: Maddox Mercer, Ryder Oakley, Holly Christman, Ethan Weaver and Arkis Sikara.

POSTED ON BEHALF OF NORTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA A&M COLLEGE

NEO Agriculture Ambassadors volunteer at Washington Elementary

Miami, Oklahoma – Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 – Since Dec. 2013, the Agriculture Ambassadors, a leadership program at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO), have been volunteering to read to the elementary students of Washington Elementary School in Miami, Okla. to help the kids improve their reading skills.

Vicki Lewis, the principal of Washington Elementary, said she loves what the student ambassadors of NEO are doing for the kids.

“The Ag Ambassadors are a great benefit to Washington Elementary,” Lewis said. “Our school motto ‘Washington Elementary students are on track to be college, career and citizen ready’ is shown daily in these NEO students showing up to help our students. Besides the help in reading they offer our students, they also serve as role models in giving back to the community.”

Agriculture instructors Alisen Anderson and McKenzie Nygren cosponsor the leadership program.

NEO’s Department Chair of Agriculture, Dr. Shannon Cunningham, started the organization in 2007 as a way for the agriculture department to have representation by NEO students who rise to the top as leaders within the department. The group is only for sophomores, who are selected based on their application, leadership skills, integrity, and character during their freshmen year.

“We use this group as means to reach out to our community, FFA chapters, State and National FFA Conventions, recruiting trips to High Schools and more,” Cunningham said. “What this group is doing with reading to students is exactly what it is designed to do. In addition, we do a lot of our own recruitment in our department, and I wanted to have a group of reliable, trustworthy, and respected agriculture students who we could send out with our faculty members to recruit new students, and share their story about NEO.”

Agriculture Ambassadors are students majoring in agriculture and are selected based on their academic success (grade point average), community involvement and reputation amongst peers to represent the department. These students are advocates for agriculture and participate in events including national and state FFA convention, Aggie Olympics, student body government meetings, and various events throughout the year.

“This weekly responsibility is rewarding for our NEO Ag Ambassadors because it is not only beneficial for the children, but our students too. It’s like weekly therapy for them to see the improvements being made and to watch the growth and confidence of the kids in need of the attention and help with reading,” Anderson said.

Washington Elementary has a poverty rate of 80 percent, which is recognized by the student ambassadors. They have been enthusiastic to take this weekly responsibility as an opportunity to learn more about the kids individually, making the overall experience rewarding and more personal.

“Ag Ambassadors are encouraged to find opportunities in the community where they can impact and educate others. In cooperation with Washington Elementary, we hope to cultivate positive experiences for both the students and our ambassadors,” Nygren said. “The continued success of the agriculture program at NEO relies heavily on community involvement, and we appreciate this opportunity to assist students with their reading skills.”

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