A Jay County agricultural teacher spent her summer in the Hawaiian Islands after winning the Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Grant. 

Brittany Kloer, who works at Jay County High School, spent 45 days in Hawaii studying its agriculture and marine life.

The Lilly grants are awarded to up to 100 Indiana teachers each year for renewal of their passions and interests. For Kloer, that meant exploring the world of marine biology. 

“When I was younger I wanted to be a marine biologist, and I lived in Atlanta. And then we moved up here to Indiana, being landlocked I wasn’t able to really pursue that,” Kloer said. “So I was able to write that about it in the teacher’s grant, and then go out and enjoy that for the summer, and kind of tied it towards my agriculture background that I now have.”

Every day during her trip brought a new experience for Kloer, who first spent time on Oahu and then traveled to Hawaii. Kloer visited the Konawaena High School FFA and the school’s agriculture teacher, learning about the program and volunteering with the school. 

“We tried to do something educational and visit some of the tourist sites, and then also community service activities,” Kloer said. “Mostly agriculture, we also did some of the marine biologist (activities) like snorkeling and went to a lecture on ocean acidification, and the importance of taking care of our oceans because they actually produce a lot of oxygen, just like the rainforest.” 

Kloer plans to take what she experienced over the summer in Hawaii and bring it back to her classroom in Indiana. She said she was inspired by the plant life in Hawaii and hopes to teach Jay County students about the different kinds of agriculture found on the islands. 

“Just the plants that can grow in the acidic soil out there was quite interesting to me with my botany background. They grow a lot of fresh fruit out there,” Kloer said. “I do plan on incorporating the tropical plants into the horticulture class and maybe getting some of those plants to grow into the greenhouse.” 

As she’s now entering her 10th year of teaching, Kloer said it was enjoyable to have a summer off of her usual tasks. She prepared most of her lesson plans before leaving in mid-June, which helped her relax during her trip. 

“I definitely feel very refreshed, it was nice to kind of step away from my summer responsibilities here in Indiana,” Kloer said. “I usually go to state convention, conferences, and work on my lesson plans over the summer so it was kind of nice to step away from all of that and just focus on having a break.”