2007 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award
Mr. Donald Sprangers, Maine
"Agricultural literacy in the 21st Century needs to become a National priority," says Donald Sprangers, a Washington Academy teacher.
American agriculture has moved this nation through the industrial revolution and into the current information age. The result is a population whereby most people are three generations removed from agricultural experiences and practices and are therefore dependent on large corporate agriculture for their subsistence. The need to understand agriculture and the limitations posed by nature are more important today than ever before.
The Washington Academy Sustainable LIFE Curriculum addresses agricultural topics at the local level by engaging students in community garden and school greenhouse projects, in addition to exploring alternative energy resources such as wind, solar, and biodiesel. The Sustainable LIFE Curriculum is balanced with related topics in land and water resources along with current technologies (GPS/GIS, bioremediation, and remote sensing).
Students are involved with every aspect of the learning process from conducting community needs assessments to planning and conducting authentic research projects. Personal reflective writings and formal project proposals or reports bring closure to units of study. Often, students are asked to support their learning by making formal presentations to sponsoring organizations, other learning groups, or the general public. Students take ownership in their learning, and are empowered to take action on issues that concern them. The Washington Academy Sustainable LIFE Curriculum takes a holistic approach to learning and aims to transform the student's worldview.
“Agriculture is a major component in the quest toward sustainable living,” finished Donald.