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2006 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award

Ms. Carol Patterson, Wisconsin

Students need hands-on activities that promote an understanding and respect for Wisconsin's agriculture. Budding Blooms Greenhouse is a project that I helped create and initiate in 2001. Fourth-grade students create indoor worm bins to decompose organic waste from the school kitchen. Science, Social Studies, Language Arts and Math play a key role in this endeavor as we market and produce red-worm compost. The students plant seeds beginning in February. These perennials, annuals, bulbs and herbs are then transferred to an outdoor greenhouse. Part of the red worm compost is used as fertilizer for the seedlings planted in the spring. To track business expenses, the students keep ledgers in math class. Students care for the seedlings until their plant sale in early May.

For students to gain an understanding of how agribusinesses are run, a field trip is taken to a cheese factory, nursery and dairy operation where they learn about agriculture up close.

While in language arts, students work on individual investigations about agriculture. These projects allow students to research an agricultural topic they find intriguing. Whether it is an occupation available in the agricultural field or researching a specialty crop, students come away with a specialized area of expertise in the field of agriculture that they teach to their classmates. Plays performed from Wisconsin History on State projected by Matt Blessing, State Historical Society of Wisconsin help students to learn the rich history of farming in the state.

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