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RNAS Award: Science teacher praised for farm education

Sandra Buchan Lyons is the winner of this year's RNAS local award.
Sandra Buchan Lyons is the winner of this year's RNAS local award.

A north-east secondary school teacher has been praised for her efforts to teach youngsters about farming and food production.

Sandra Buchan Lyons is the recipient of this year’s Royal Northern Agricultural Society (RNAS) local award.

The award, which is sponsored by ANM Group, is presented to a non-public figure who has made an outstanding contribution to progress in the industry.

Mrs Buchan Lyons is principal teacher of science at Kemnay Academy, where she is heavily involved in schemes to integrate agriculture into her teachings and to bring the farm to the classroom.

She began her teaching career at Tobermory High School on the Isle of Mull, before moving to Aberdeenshire with her husband Andrew Lyons who runs North Auchmachar Farm, near Mintlaw.

Mrs Buchan Lyons says she has always had an interest in agriculture and working to incorporate it into her lessons.

She has delivered this through working with rural education charity, the Royal Northern Countryside Initiative (RNCI), the Learning for Sustainability element of the Scottish Curriculum, and more recently work to teach S1 and S2 pupils about food and the environment.

Mrs Buchan Lyons was also instrumental in developing the school’s farming and countryside group, which organises a country show for pupils, and prior to the Covid-19 pandemic she secured funding from Education Scotland to develop and deliver the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) on the Farm project.

The initiative, run in partnership with RNCI, aims to arm STEM teachers with resources to integrate agriculture into their lessons.

“It’s [farming] something I have an interest in, but I also really do see it as science in action,” said Mrs Buchan Lyon, who has incorporated information about farm fertiliser use into her chemistry lessons.

“I would hope that some more schools will embrace this.”

One of the citations nominating Mrs Buchan Lyons for the award describes her as someone who “does an amazing amount of extra work in promoting farming and agricultural issues to her pupils”.

Another reads: “It is important we recognise people, and especially teachers, who go that extra mile to teach children, as this is then communicated to their parents, on the virtues and influences of agriculture”.

On winning the award, Mrs Buchan Lyons said: “It’s really nice to be recognised beyond education and for education within another industry.”

She will receive her award at a special RNAS awards lunch on Friday November 5.

Royal Northern Agricultural Society reveals 2021 award winners

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