SCHUYLER, Neb. -- A popular phrase said that the children are our future, but it leaves out how it's the teachers that shape their minds to make change and learn.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation recognized such work by honoring Schuyler kindergarten teacher, Ann Sobota, with the 2023 Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year Award.

Sobota was surprised with her award in front of family and the entire elementary school during Thursday's assembly.

"I was really surprised and really felt honored, I'm very appreciative of receiving this award," said Sobota. "It's just really exciting that I know my students are learning from this, and they can see the things that they can do in the future with anything, and they see where their food is coming from, and what they can do with all the things just in our community in general."

The award is given to teachers who incorporate the topic of agriculture into their lesson plans.

Director of Outreach, Courtney Shreve, said that Sobota was the right choice as her unique approach helps further the connection students make between agriculture to everyday foods that they eat in Nebraska.

"We receive a list of teachers," Shreve said. "We look at their information, and see how they incorporate agriculture all year long into the classroom; and Ann did a great job of incorporating all year long, and in hands-on experiences in unique ways."

Sobota and her class participate in Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom's classroom visits to get hands-on lessons from professional educators, and even exchange letters with Nebraska farmers through the Ag Pen Pal Program.

Schuyler Elementary School Principal Bill Comley, said that there is no one more deserving than Sobota, and her dedication to helping young children gain better understanding.

"Ann is such a hands-on teacher, she just works," said Comley. "She keeps it interactive and she keeps it fun, and the kids just enjoy learning about ag. Isn't it just so cool that a well deserving kindergarten teacher that just brings ag into a community? And Schuyler is such a huge agricultural community as it is and to have a teacher bring that into her classroom is pretty special."

Sobota's honor will encourage her to continue teaching young children, and with her award she received a field trip grant to take her classroom to visit a dairy farm.

Sobota will also go on an expense paid trip to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, in Florida this summer, to learn more effective techniques for agriculture concepts in the classroom.