2010 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award
Mr. John Chybion
Endeavour Elementary Magnet School, Florida
I have used lessons from "Project Food, Land and People" to introduce reading, math, science, and economics to students in kindergarten through sixth grade. We apply the concepts learned from these lessons in our schoolyard gardens where students "get their hands dirty" and learn how to grow plants, a surprisingly new experience for the student population. As a result, students' attitudes, grades, and life skills have soared. In our outdoor learning lab, students apply different variables and observe different outcomes with nutrient use, irrigation levels and sunlight exposure. Students learn about automation, programming electronic timers that trigger irrigation pumps, and record and analyze data on nutrient and water use. They harvest, process and market their fresh strawberries with profits funding a field trip to EPCOT. They have experimented with a variety of organic, hydroponically-grown plants, all germinated in the classroom, and process of cultivating Florida strawberries from plugs. Students take enormous pride in their garden, and gladly give tours, explaining the importance of strawberries to Florida agriculture.