The Great American Bus Interactive Education was created by Dallas resident Lisa Williams and began traveling to schools statewide in June 2011.
The bus interior is divided into areas which feature and describe different aspects of Georgia agriculture.
Williams, a former substitute teacher, observed that students often could not go on field trips because of the cost, she said. This sparked the idea of bringing the field trip to the students.
“I put together every possible way they [students] can learn,” she said.
In the almost two years she has displayed the bus, she has traveled to around 170 schools, Williams said.
Each station on the bus has a box in which students can reach in and touch such Georgia-produced items as marble, quartz, soil, cotton, Vidalia onions and more.
Williams also has a whisper mill which demonstrates the process of how wheat is ground into flour, and how then flour is used to make food.
In addition, Williams created a mascot called Gabie, a honeybee which is the state insect, to help the students learn.
“I needed a character for students to identify with,” Williams said.
Then Williams asked daughter Mercedes Laine to write a book about the bus, she said. Laine wrote “Gabie’s Georgia Adventure,” which features Gabie visiting a variety of locations from where agricultural products come.
“All the pictures in the book are on the bus,” Williams said.
When Williams decided to take on her idea, her mother Janet Pangborn backed the project financially, she said.
The bus is custom built with lighting, electronics, custom paintings and pictures of different aspects of Georgia agriculture, which cost around $100,000, Williams said.
“It took two years to build it,” she said.
District 31 State Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, heard about the bus and came to take a look at it himself, Williams said. He then decided to sponsor a state Senate resolution to honor Williams’ efforts.
“Agriculture is the single largest component of our state’s economy and provides employment for hundreds of thousands of Georgians statewide. Therefore, I was happy to sponsor this resolution for its ability to offer a unique learning experience for Georgia students,” Heath said in a statement.
Williams received the honor from the Senate and a similar resolution from the state House at the Capitol Feb. 26.
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