Kaylie Ackerley Siddall — New York
Ms. Kaylie Ackerley was born in Neversink, New York and grew up in the Catskill Mountain region. Neversink is known for its 216 billion gallon reservoir that provides New York City with the drinking water needed to sustain such a large population. For this reason, along with the mountainous terrain, her exposure to agriculture was limited to the experiences available through her high school agriculture program.
Ms. Ackerley or “Miss A” as her students call her, got a late start in the Tri-Valley FFA chapter, where she became an active member following a knee injury her 9th grade year. She credits her success in the FFA to the strong role models and influences of her advisor and mentor Tara Berescik, along with the encouragement of retired agriculture teacher Richard Strangeway. It was due to these influences that she went on to serve as the New York State FFA Treasurer.
While serving as a State FFA Officer, Miss A was also tackling her first year of undergraduate studies at Cornell University. She began her post-secondary education with the intention of becoming a veterinarian however her State Officer experience exposed her to teaching workshops; an endeavor she fell in love with. She quickly added a dual major in agriculture education and set her goal on a new career: that of an agriscience educator. During her undergraduate program, she studied at the Swedish Agriculture University in Uppsala, Sweden where she was exposed to different animal agricultural practices and policies. It was in Sweden when Miss A took her first college course online and accredits much of her experience to a phenomenal professor. She learned the value and importance of building a relationship with her professor and peers in the class, despite the fact that the students she interacted with came from over 10 different countries across the globe. She began teaching as a long-term agriculture substitute at Southern Cayuga Central School in January of 2013. At the time she accepted the position, she was also completing her Masters in the Art of Teaching at Cornell University and credits this to her ability to juggle the many responsibilities that being an agriscience teacher requires.
Miss A continues to challenge and improve her teaching techniques. She believes that students learn best when they are able to direct their own learning and be challenged by difficult questions. It is for this reason that during her time at Southern Cayuga, Miss A took on the challenge of a co-taught Ag with Math course using the Project-Based Learning methodology. When she is not reading up on literature for her PBL course, Miss A can be found outside mountain biking in the local state forests, raising puppies for seeing-eye dog organization Freedom Guide Dogs, and traveling to the National Parks to appreciate the beauty our country has to offer.