Published on June 24th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
District Five teachers head to the farm for summer lessons
Pictured above: Leaphart Elementary teacher Jennie Burns feeds a calf during a tour of Shumpert’s Dairy
LEESVILLE – For many educators summer is a time for professional development, preparation and planning. But for one group of Lexington-Richland School District Five teachers that included a trip to the farm for real-world lessons on where food comes from.
Around a dozen teachers and staff are visiting local farms June 24-25 as part of District Five’s Farm to School program. Earlier this school year, District Five was awarded a nearly $100,000 Farm to School grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dubbed District Five’s Farm to Five Program, the grant provides for educational opportunities for students and teachers and the implementation of more local foods into district cafeterias.
District Five Student Nutrition Director Todd Bedenbaugh said, “We’ve said all along that we wanted District Five’s Farm to Five Program to provide meaningful, engaging and hands-on experiences for our teachers and students. By bringing the teachers out to farms this summer, we are providing inspiration for lessons and class discussion they can take back to their students next school year.”
Officials say the Farm to School grants help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods and increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses, including: food processors, manufacturers and distributors. Grants will also be used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms and cooking classes.
For farmers like Stanley Shumpert, local business and awareness are vital to his 300-cow dairy in Leesville. Shumpert said having District Five teachers tour his dairy farm gives him an opportunity to promote local milk producers and introduce farming to a new audience.
“We have groups come here that have never been on a farm before and have no idea where food comes from. I think all children should know about farming and the work it takes to put things on the grocery shelves,” said Shumpert, whose milk is processed and distributed to some schools in District Five and other areas.
Teachers like Irmo Middle’s Regan Moore and Leaphart Elementary’s Jennie Burns, who visited Shumpert’s farm on June 24, were already talking about the classroom lessons that could be tied into their visit to the farm.
“It would be fun to look at the cost of a carton of milk compared to the cost of producing it, then breaking that down to see what the percentages were,” Moore said amongst a group of teachers brainstorming lesson plans.
Burns added, “I know the students would be so fascinated with this … just in awe. There are a lot of opportunities for lessons here … lessons dealing with science, gallons, measurements and lots of other things.”
Through the grant, District Five will implement a program that expands local food offerings in its schools, engages students in eating more and a greater variety of locally grown products, creates peer mentorship opportunities to launch effective school gardening and learning opportunities, trains school food service personnel in effective procurement and preparation of local foods, and enables educators to integrate food and nutrition-based learning across the school curriculum. Project partners will include the following: state Department of Agriculture; South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation; University of South Carolina’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism; Clemson University’s Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Science; W.P. Rawl & Sons, Inc. and Midlands Biofuels.