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Garden grant helps Hawkins Elementary students grow and learn

Submitted by Judy Bowery • Jan 12, 2018 at 2:04 PM

The Tennessee Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom promotes agricultural literacy through means. Teacher training and materials provide public and private school teachers with accurate information about modern agriculture that can be used in their classrooms. The Foundation funds two grant programs, one for school gardens and the other to assist county Farm Bureaus in conducting Farm Day events for students.

Hawkins Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Amy Antrican first received the Foundation’s Outdoor Classroom Garden grant in 2016-17 after attending an Ag in the Classroom teacher workshop. She partnered with the local 4-H extension office and used it with her fifth grade class to pilot the Learn, Go, Eat and Grow program which began in Texas.

With this program, students learn the benefits of eating certain foods as well as growing them in their own school garden. Antrican’s fifth-grade class launched the program by building two raised garden beds on Hawkins Elementary School property with the help of several Master Gardeners from Rogersville.

After the beds were complete, the students planted both seed and plants to grow a variety of vegetables during the spring and summer months. Wanting to continue the program in the 2017-18 school year, Antrican put in for the $250 grant from Farm Bureau which was awarded to her so she could continue her project. Antrican has used this opportunity to encourage fellow fifth-grade teachers Kristi DeBusk, Julia Hobbs, Heidi Randolph and Amanda Silvers to use the program as well.

The garden is a great place to incorporate information about agriculture into math, science and social studies lessons.

Hawkins County Farm Bureau hosts a professional development opportunity for teachers each year at its office. Activities are modeled and strategies discussed to make teachers aware of Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC). AITC began officially in 1982 as an effort by the United State Department of Agriculture to ensure that students understood and appreciated the role of agriculture in their daily lives. This was an attempt to have students know where their food and clothing originated.

Today, the Tennessee Foundation for AITC trains over 1,100 teachers each year, funds 40-plus school gardens, and assists with over 60 Farm Day events statewide. For more information, visit www.agclassroom.org/tn or on our Facebook page @TennesseeAITC.

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