Colorado teachers recognized at National Agriculture in the Classroom conference
WESTMINSTER, Colo. — Colorado had a strong representation of teachers attending the recent National Agriculture in the Classroom annual conference. Roughly 450 educators from 45 states, the District of Columbia, American Somoa and Puerto Rico convened in Little Rock, Ark., for the “AgVenture in the Natural State” conference, which was held June 19-21, 2019.
A total of seven individuals from Colorado attended, including Malcom Davis of Sabin Middle School in Colorado Springs, Christina Fogel and Deborah Tanzy both of Gardner School in Gardner, Rebecca Kiefer of North Fork Montessori at Crawford School in Crawford, Andy Klatt of Grandview Elementary in Windsor, Christopher Woodburn of Denver Public Schools Office of Sustainability in Denver, and Jennifer Scharpe, executive director for the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture and the state contact for Colorado’s Agriculture in the Classroom program.
The purpose of the conference is to show pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers how to use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies and more. This year’s event was hosted by the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) and the Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Agriculture in the Classroom program. Partial funding for the conference was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture.
Nearly all of the Colorado attendees received special recognition during the conference.
Klatt, a physical education teacher, received one of eight prestigious awards given through the National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture award program. NAITCO, USDA, and Farm Credit partner each year to honor teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade from around the country for the innovative ways they use agricultural concepts to teach core subjects.
As the PE teacher at Grandview, Klatt has the unique opportunity to teach agricultural literacy concepts to all of the kindergarten through fifth grade students in his school. And he has extended that reach to his community and the Windsor School District.
“Andy has found innovative ways to incorporate agricultural literacy through cross-curricular education. He is able to ensure that every student at Grandview Elementary knows where their food comes from and their connection to food, fiber, fuel and natural resources,” said Scharpe. “Andy has a particular desire to ensure all of his students, their families, and his fellow teachers and administrators know how to identify healthy food options, the necessary components of a healthy diet, and to link their food back to the farmers and ranchers where it is produced.”
Klatt’s efforts to teach agricultural concepts begin with the school garden. This past year, Klatt completed a $96,000 remodel and upgrade to the garden, with the help of 25 Windsor-area businesses and organizations donating the supplies and other necessary assistance to complete the renovation project. Each grade level plants and cares for the different sections of the garden, which Klatt ties into concepts they learn in their other classes. The students eat or otherwise use everything they grow.
Klatt’s students really enjoy his “Precision Fitness” lesson where they use GPS units to locate different points on the playground. Through this lesson, students are able to use their math, social studies, physical education, and orienteering skills while discovering how technology and precision agriculture are used to improve farming practices.
Additional activities that Klatt has implemented include the After School Garden Club where the students host an annual “Family Fitness Night” for community members. The “Food 4 Life” agriculture day is for all fourth grade students in the district. And through the Adopt-A-Farmer program, students correspond and then visit a dairy farm and a crop farm.
“I attended one of the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture’s Food, Fiber, and More Summer AgriCULTURE Institutes and ever since I have been hooked on teaching about agriculture. By using agricultural concepts in cross-curricular integration, we have seen the test scores of our students exceed state averages,” Klatt said.
Chris Woodburn was a recipient of the White-Reinhardt Award, sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The award was given to 15 educators — teachers and classroom volunteers — for their exceptional efforts to encourage agricultural literacy. Each recipient received a $1,500 scholarship to attend the national conference. The AFB Foundation, through the White-Reinhardt Fund for Education, sponsors the scholarships in cooperation with the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee.
Woodburn is the Garden of Youth director for Denver Public Schools. The program provides paid work experience and extended job skills training to students with disabilities to prepare them for future employment through growing and selling organic produce. Students that complete the 10-week paid summer program earn work experience study credit and a paycheck. They also leave with references and an updated resume. Intern evaluations are provided to case managers at the end of the program.
The CHS Foundation provided scholarships to 40 teachers to attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom conference. The scholarship pays for the $435 early registration fee for the conference. Recipients are selected for their desire to learn more innovate ways to use agricultural concepts in their curricula.
Three Colorado educators received a CHS Foundation scholarship. Those teachers were Malcom Davis, Rebecca Kiefer and Deborah Tanzy.
The 2020 National Agriculture in the Classroom annual conference will be held June 23-26 in Salt Lake City, Utah. For more information, visit http://www.GrowingYourFuture.com or contact Jennifer Scharpe at (970) 818-3308 or Jennifer@GrowingYourFuture.com. ❖
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