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Logo of AdAgrA 2021: Hidden Treasure

How’s the Ag “Pulse” in our Schools? Panel Discussion

Thom Mayer Angela Boothby Anna Perea Melissa Clayton Vickie Esau



  • January 14, 2021
    8:15 AM
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For you this morning. Asa All right today we have a have pretty exciting thing to say with you we have a panel of all sorts of different people and different places in education so we are going to learn what is going on in some of our schools and we're also going to hopefully empower some of you who are currently homeschooling or teaching to have great ideas of how to be successful with including gardening and regular school curriculum you know all that math and science and stuff and so let's get started with Tommy Can you please tell us what is going on at days I know you're doing something new this year it actually we started it last year. With respect to the farm and the students working on the farm this is my 6th school year my family nice Irving a day Star and the 1st year I came I was super excited I've been Apprentice seen with Lynn Hogan learned a lot of stuff from him and was just all amped up on on this school that had a farm and so when I 1st got there I remember I was teaching in the classroom the 1st year I was there and I worked very little on the farm that 1st year because I had so many classes but you know I was asking the teach the students how do you do you love working on the farm and I know and it was because they just they would There was too much repetition in certain things like you know just burning tomatoes or whatever they got bored of and so. One of the things we started implementing last year was creating a space for the students where they had their own plots student plots they chose what they grow there and what they you know. Are going to put in the ground and then that food we grow for the cafeteria and anything extra they add into the market garden side of things and we keep counting of what what they sell and that goes back into their into their student plot fun and that has made it really. Create a lot of ownership where they you know this is my little spot and like this year we have the screen House that they're growing in and they each have the way it's worked out they each have 3 little beds and Kirk are actually sure has he worked it out where exactly one bed and an aisle way is exactly 107 acre and so they can scale up do the math you know what would I have grown would I have been able to grow if I grew an acre or a half acre or whatever it is that sounds like math yes there's math Ok involved there. And like last year it was actually those are Bible teacher who was teaching the ag class and those 2 classes obviously bit bland so well I mean it's it's nothing but a lesson book out there you know so I have Polish Gys I have not introduced the lovely panel have I shame on me so clearly I'm a professional moderate to all right so I'll start with Tommy Can you just give us a little quick introduction and then we'll go down the line and have an introduction Yes So my name's Tommy I work at the star and. Star 6 school you're there like I said and it's a it's an amazing place if any of you have not ever been to that neck of the woods down there in southeastern Utah visited Arches National Park or Moab or canyon lands highly recommend coming by we have a guest house you can stay and so it's a beautiful place. Thank you welcome. He Esau and I directed Jefferson Christian academy over in Jefferson Texas is kind of up in the Arklatex area. This is also my 6th year working there. I've been the director for 4 years. I'm originally from Nebraska so it's like moving to another planet when you come down here as far as gardening goes I'm used to having a break for the winter you don't get that in Texas Hill. And it was something really special you are doing today I mean this year lest I forget this year we are one of the pilot schools for the new acquainting agriculture program that at Agra is developing with the help of these lovely lady so we're very excited about Vicki she we have we sent out to in June or July with a message to the world asking who would like to pilot our program because before you publish it you really need some feedback and so overnight and I got a 100 replies from all over the world saying I'll pilot the program Ah pilot the program but we prayed and vetted it down and we were so excited Vicki on board and she's been awesome with giving us some really helpful feedback. With what are some strengths and weaknesses of the program. Go ahead I'm. The I'm at a parade and I am currently market farming Well at least trying to market farm in East Texas pretty close ne texas close to where Jefferson Academy is we have about 30 acres there and. It's been a really awesome process and now this year I'm homeschooling my boys 8 and 6 and I've dabbled in a little bit but now are full you know we've got the curriculum and we're homeschooling and so my big challenge is been how to integrate home schooling and farming because it doesn't seem like there's time for both but anyway so I'm really excited though to learn and just awesome thanks for coming all right and. My name is Melissa Clay and I was a middle school and elementary school for several years elementary school teacher for several years before I had my own children and now my family owns and operates a small market farm in northern Michigan and I have 2 young boys who will be starting home schooling very soon. Awesome awesome All right so we learned what Daystar is doing with a little bit more ownership and making time for both a full on Market Garden and also you know time for the students to feel like they have a part and they get sick got a little bit more. Autonomy with choices Vickie can you give us a little bit what you have gleaned from doing the pilot program has it helped you to incorporate this big gap that seems to exist how on earth do I run a full time garden and yet at the same time make sure that I'm eating curriculum standards yes you know. Before this year we actually we just had a student work program at our at our school. And agriculture was one of the work options where they could you know work down there tuitions that way but this year we've switched from that pilot program to actually being a full on vocational program and so they said Ok you're going to have to teach agriculture as a vocation and it was it was panic on my part I have to say because I I knew I was going to have to teach to standards I was going to have to cover you know the expected topics and everything and. We are growing a fairly well for one person running it it's a fairly big set up and I just really didn't know how I was going to come up with a disc I'm up with how to do this and so I was yelling loudly pick me pick me for this pilot program. And it has been a godsend for me I don't have to worry about meeting all of the required standards I know that if I'm just following this curriculum they're going to get everything that they need to know. To come out of there and be able to not only grow their own food for their families one day but also with the skills to become market gardeners or you know work in an a and agriculture situation they're going to come out of this program with. A good set of skills and so that that has been a big big blessing and we need to this year we started with the students each having their own garden plot and it is awesome to see them start from the very very beginning you know where they're planning Ok You know what am I going to plant where am I going to plant it how do I square up the corners using math. I have one student who he's like why do we have to do Mandarin it wriggled her success past 6 but he is also the number one agriculture supporter and our school he's always promoting you should do to do eggs so. I don't see what else moving and see I don't know it's just I think it's awesome and I'm I'm so thankful for what you guys are doing the other thing is you know there's a lot of material on gardening out there that you could get put together and created some type of a curriculum but very little of it is Christ focused and very little of it is well none of it almost is Adventist focused and so I feel. Very secure knowing that going through this they're going to be getting accurate information and. And God is definitely in the center of it so it's a blessing some praise God Thank you Vicky for taking on that big project of piloting and giving us wonderful feedback thank you really also can you tell us maybe have you had any success with incorporating other subjects in the vocational agricultural program have you seen other subjects besides mass show up well yeah I think so I mean there. The maybe not subjects like you would say you know history and all of that and that's in there I'm sure but just organizational skills and planning skills in. Apple skills yes very practical skills I mean they have to actually you know think things through from beginning to end you know it's just. I mean they are getting bits of every topic the curriculum is designed I mean you have a spiritual lesson and you have a health lesson and a science lesson with every every week and so you can't help but touch on everything so awesome Ok so. Let's just start from the beginning how do I be intentional about making sure that my time in the garden isn't just practical skills not that that's not wonderful but how do I make sure is educational and that I am meeting some curriculum. Melissa why do you start. So. I'm not sure how many of your homes going if you're familiar every state will have a set of standards of what students are supposed to know anything of it great and if you're not comfortable using state standards that anybody actually has a set of standards available as well and what those standards do is tell you if you have a 5th grader these are all of the things that a 5th grader should know and should be working on and they're pretty simple to find you you could just go to Google and type in if you're looking for your state standards Michigan State Education Standards grade 5 or if you're looking for the any standard you would type in any of the States or any of the Standard Grades 4 or whatever you're looking for and so what I would do what I will be be doing with my children is as a teacher turned to homeschooling mom who doesn't necessarily want to like and I mentioned. How she feels she has a hard time because she has her home school curriculum and then she has her gardening and she doesn't have time to do both I would be looking for ways to integrate my. Education my home schooling into my gardening and my farming. And giving by printing off the standards and being aware of exactly what things my students are supposed to be learning that helps me start checking things off of a list instead of trying to weed through a huge curriculum or a big workbook and figuring at figuring that out I have a guide that tells me everything that my child needs to know in a specific year and so the standard they'll be standards for if you're using any of the standards for Bible language are which would be your reading your writing your phonics math science social studies they also. A fine art which would be like music an art p.e. and physical education and technology and so you know it can be easy to see how maybe science standards or physical education standards or Bible standards would be met in the garden but there are so many other subjects that you can incorporate into your gardening so as this specific example that I I printed off for wrote down I'm looking at language arts standards for grade 5 and one of the standards on the n.a.v. website is to read and read literary nonfiction of appropriate complexity independently and proficiently and to self monitor reading strategies and make modifications as needed so that sounds a little bit complicated but it's not you just sit and break that down into simple simple wording so basically it's saying my student my child can read and understand informational text that means can my child read the back of a seed packet and know what they're growing and how to grow it I'm looking at students notice when they make a mistake in reading and they can self correct so if my child is reading the back of a speed packet and something doesn't make sense or they say a word wrong can they go back and correct themselves and fix the mistake that they made so. In my answering question Mandy Hossam keep going I think that this is very helpful because that gives me hope go so and I mentioned that she is currently trying I think this is a struggle that I've heard across the board about the fact that how you know you have these textbooks right your math textbook is this your math textbook is this big and then you have your language arts and then you have your science and you have your social studies or maybe some home school curriculums I know they're all one great and one book right and how do you make sure that you're getting all of that material done and still spending time in the garden and so you're suggesting that if we know the big picture are you suggesting we maybe don't do every worksheet. So as a former elementary school middle school teacher I can tell you I have never finished a textbook with my children never it doesn't happen and so what I did as a teacher though was to go through what my standards were because I worked for that I worked in the northern New England conference I would look at that any standard and just make sure as I'm going through my school year that I'm meeting all of those standards so that when my 6th grader went on to 7th grade they knew the things that they needed to know and I would skip around in my book to make sure that we were covering the chapters that they would need when they got into the next grade level so in a hopeful situation that can seem really overwhelming but if you print off your standards and put them into simpler language something that's easy to understand the standards are not as scary as they sound but put them into simple things and make a calendar give yourself some guidelines in the month of October maybe you're not quite as busy on the farm as you would be in say March or April so in the month of October we're going to work with the fickle. And making sure that we've covered the standards and making sure that my child can know and do these specific things and and set yourself targets for the whole year and then it's easy to as you're going about your daily lives and the garden and the market think about because you have only maybe 51012 standards that you're working on specifically that month it's a whole lot easier to intentionally incorporate those lessons into the things that you're doing it breaks it up into chunks that you're not overwhelmed with all of the things that you need to do and all of the things that you need to learn hopefully you're following that because that is some excellent advice you give us an example that might help people really understand it with your son when you and I were talking earlier can you give us that adorable example that he's not quite ready for kindergarten but if he was in kindergarten he'd be definitely meeting kindergarten standards can you tell us what you're doing with him in the garden just so my son my oldest son is only 4 years old but we've been working on counting and slowly working into addition and. I don't exactly remember the specific example that I gave Angela earlier but one of the things that we do is I just make sure that we are always counting things together and will count how many carrots have you pulled out of the ground until count with carrots and then we'll count how many characters Malia pulled out of the ground and we'll count how many carrots I've pulled out and they all say so how many carrots do we have also gather and then we'll count all of the carrot and then to take that to the next level because my son doesn't know that he's doing addition yet I will say Ok you gather and you pulled out 5 carrots mommy pulled out 4 carrots so all together we just counted that we have 9 carrots so now we know that 5 plus. I forgot I bought 4 equals 9 I said you just did addition gatt and you just added 5 plus 4 equals 9 and while I'm doing that we're counting he's learning those numbers where we're working we're getting things done but it's all about using that intentional language and helping him no one understand what he just did they given his 4 year old mind he's never going to make that connection of I just add 5 plus 4 equals 9 and if you're not intentional about using that language it might very likely would go right over his head and so that's I think the key in homeschooling and an integrated homeschooling into your daily lives is using that intentional language knowing exactly what you're trying to teach your child and being intentional about using the educational words that will help them understand what it is they're learning awesome and I'm going to play off that feel of it and Tommy and a different line how are you intentional maybe in the spiritual lessons or in the practical lessons how are you intentional with your vocabulary as a teacher in the garden to make sure that the connections are being made because often we just assume they are but there does take intentionality Can you give us some examples of maybe how you're doing it well Kirk is teaching the class this year and and I work on the market garden so I haven't been able to observe all that much what he's saying there but. I know I remember last year when Brian and Monaco were doing it. Incorporating Bible and spiritual things into the agriculture class they got into this thing where Monica would actually come out in the in the plots where they were working and we have this little loudspeaker because the fans are kind of loud and she would read to them while they were working. And then in the classroom Brian was always bringing back lessons that you know remember what happened in the in the garden the other day or when we were up in the orchard pruning you know and making them right and and respond to what do you learn spiritually from pruning the trees today you know I learned that that burning away certain aspects of my life can be painful you know or or looks like Man I really want to keep that branch but you need to take it off because you the energy needs to go somewhere else so. I think just trying to make those connections and and be intentional with with how you make those connections is is very important yeah you have something that I think if you don't know at all where to start a really simple idea is just adding a journal to the kids and they do that they they journeyed and keep track and that's another way of us just seeing where they've been and we can you know basically check off certain they learn how to use the the vacuum cedar and plant trees they learned how to use the paper part transplant or or all these different tools that we use down there definitely and I teach English currently to high school students and every time I have them I always have them just Journal for 15 minutes because just like if I want to become you know a basketball player I have to practice shooting right if I want to become a great writer I just need to practice writing and so the cool thing an awesome thing about the gardening is there's plenty to write about because they just lived it right if I put a topic on the board like why do I write about but when you say write about something you literally just lived and just did it's not hard or intimidating to write 15 lines because you just physically did it and often we just do brain work and we're not doing the physical motions so and I You obviously think Journal is important do you have something to add because you put it in the curriculum so as a contributor to this curriculum I felt that oftentimes in gardening we're so work focused getting the task done going to market meeting deadlines you know raising funds and all of that and it becomes a work oriented that we lose the opportunity to meet God in the garden and so that's the emphasis that we chose for this curriculum it's called acquainting agriculture so it's not an agriculture that makes you money I mean it can but this agriculture we intentionally wanted to acquaint you with God. And so every lesson is got a Bible connection a Bible verse and then a connection to what they're actually doing in the garden and then with that on the bottom there's tons of room for journaling because we want to give them the tools to make those connections between what I'm doing in the spiritual world and how they can actually see God and I know in my personal life. So many times you kind of just take a moment of quiet moment and or the Holy Spirit just flashes a connection in your mind and man what I'm doing relates to you know an eternal principle and so as you're walking in the garden and you're thinking these thoughts you cannot help but develop the closest relationship you've ever experienced with God and we want them to be able to document that you know those connections right in the journal right in the garden you know you you want to let them I've been talking about that you have a thought you want to write it down quickly and so they take this journal with them into the garden they're learning this stuff and it all when I see God in this example and they are write it down and then they can keep this journal this treasure of information and experience with them for the rest of their lives and it's just a a precious hidden treasure really and it's waterproof so no I did offer to live in the. Last Forever float. So Vicki you know actually your kids don't have the physical journals because we haven't printed those yet you're That is correct as a teacher you just got the pilot program so what has it been like for you with the journal aspect have you been able to do it have you seen some pretty deep entries or what has that been like well we've been mostly we've been writing and answering thought questions from the tech that's in in there but I can see the big benefit of being able to actually take take it out into the garden and do that right on the spot because right now we've got it all up on their computer they've got a sit in for their computer and and we maybe do spend a little our you know focus on getting through the text 1st so we can actually go play in the garden so I'm looking forward to getting that waterproof coffee and we can take it with us to the heart and that'll be a lot better awesome but yeah but they do you know these kids they have a lot of the things that they they can say you know when they're actually in there doing it and they're so proud of themselves you know and I think that it just helps them to grow. You know spiritually too because they thought they see it they see it they're doing it and they they do see God in the garden you know if you had to boil down the most important things if you have to to limit to say what you really need to be successful in life it's a good understanding of math reading and writing. And so the garden lends itself quite easily to math and if you are intentional about Lake having your student read and so you just telling them what to do in the garden and you take the time to let them read the Steve packets and read the different instructions that we just stuff away because we know what we're doing right you're crossing that reading boundary and then adding that journal even if it's just in the evening where they just Journal all of a sudden you've got some really core things done right here and it's all very purposeful You know you're reading for a purpose not just for being entertained you know you have you have an objective in your reading to meet that objective and and that's a good way to learn Yeah and how many times have probably you heard and you guys heard us teachers why do I need to do this what's the point of this or a pile of more and then in the garden if we make those connections for them. So. Sorry no I just I just love that we're talking about how to be intentional on the spiritual side and the educational side of farming because sometimes that can be missed what are some Tommy Have you noticed any of your other teachers able to pick up on lessons from the garden or have you heard of anything else going on across because the star has been doing our culture for a long time praise God we're very happy for that and so have you noticed other subjects be able to pick up on the gardening or have you can you give us any other ideas of maybe how to incorporate the high school subjects in the garden. So this year we were blessed with a gift from own soil or. Farmer's friend in the form of a sulfur burner that they have put together a small scale sulfur burner and so there's a lot of chemistry there you know and looking at the aspects of what's happening why why do we have an infestation of aphids on the tomato plants well they're lacking in certain nutrients and and that's because of our water or water has a lot of salt and it's very alkaline and even though we're testing and getting an alice of the soil and then balancing that soil is being tied up by all the water situation and so. We incorporated the sulfur burner a little over a year ago into the situation and this last summer was the 1st year that since I've been there that we didn't have one a fit on the tomatoes I mean they were they were absolutely beautiful plants. And and so yeah what's what's happening was that with the silvers bonding to these other salts and things in the water and cleaning up the water and so they you know been curious about that and and there's obviously chemistry there is chemistry in our you know our. Distiller that we have there how to extract oil from the lavender flower and so. We're trying to do more and more of that corporators many subjects into the farmer's possible awesome so that's an excellent point as teachers say you guys notice that learning inexpressibly deeper learning applied learning is easier when you're out there chaos and when you to say this is the next thing we're going to do and how can you maybe help us to have ideas of how to arouse that curiosity as have any helpful ideas. Problems you know when there's a problem what can we do what are our solutions to try to remedy this problem. And does is it starts a curiosity around something you know even to the point of like why isn't the tractor starting you know because not everybody's focus is on you know just the garden aspect there's a whole peripheral bit of of work and tools and things that the building and and that sort of thing that that the kids are are interested in the ones who are more mechanically minded gravitate to the tractor at all let me try to fix that you know take things apart and put it back together we have a full shop there at school and so it's been that's been a good aspect and if you think about like school to learn how to problem solving to push yourself is how you are successful as a school and too often our society has really stopped problem solving right we want Google to tell us all the answer is and so all of a sudden now in the garden the problem solving aspect is just kind of constant right you also talked about to me with your son. A kind of carouse curiosity with shapes you want to give that example to you that was really helpful with you talking about. With Gavin with teaching him shapes you've never had to send down with a pencil and draw a sheet but he knows his sheets can you share how that would be possible. So one of the things that I know is that for a preschool or kindergarten curriculum is that my child needs to learn his shapes and that we've never sat down and drawn the shapes and said This is a circle and this is a square and this is a rectangle just that as we're going about our daily lives I've pointed things out and will like trace the shape of the wheel and know that wheel is in a circle or what shape is the door on the green how it's it's got too long sides and 2 short sides what shape is that in these we talk about the shape and then now he can identify every shape when we've never sat down and and drawn them out because I knew in my head that those are things he needed to learn and just as we're going about our daily lives we talk about it and I think that the most important part of that is is the discussions with your children about what the things are that they need to learn so. We mentioned starting with a problem and in solving that problem they they have a question or a problem to solve and having them work through that process and then at the end having a discussion Ok what did we just learn because if you don't talk about what you learned your child may not realize that they're learning anything and if they don't realize that they learned something they learned a process or they learned. Something about chemistry or something about math or something about reading they may not have the tools to apply that in a different situation and go you want to help your child break down when you're done with the learning experience help them understand what it is that. They learned though that in a different situation when the same kind of problem looks a little bit different they know what to do because they already know that they have the tools to solve that next problem awesome very awesome very awesome great stuff here all right so you don't have a lot of time left so. Where are there any things that you guys wanted to share or maybe other ideas of how to be intentional with learning and the garden and how to have maybe more peace to bridge that gap that that gap that just exists in so many homes schools lives and schools lives is just making this is Garden time this is school time you guys have any other helpful things for people I'm just encouraged you know I think that it's there's so many visible topics to teach you have so many opportunities more out in nature than you would just in your in your home you know your 4 square walled home and just being out there there's so many opportunities just they come constantly and so I think that just that natural setting invokes education and the love for learning and I mean we go on walks Fridays are only real day off just go explore and do things and they love it and it's a natural way of teaching and I think Jesus used that same principle you know he was always out in the hills in nature using the examples right before him to teach the people and I feel like when we incorporate that into our our way of teaching our children. The principles are longer lasting I can read a book regurgitate something and forget it completely the next month but the the things you learn out in nature and in the garden are at last life lasting and so I really encourage everybody to to do more of that and less and I need to some preaching to myself I need to get out more and not stay inside focused on that book you know I'm the one that's got to get every chapter done you know I just as hard for me to let go and say hey let's just learn from life not from someone else's information you know we've tried to make that connection as well this year I've been teaching a video editing class for a life skills with life skill times on Fridays and so one of the 1st videos we did at the beginning of the year we came up with just a bunch of ideas and then just started ticking. Down to the list and. One of my students I had to write the little script for it she was in the video she edited it she narrated it just simply about how to take a soil sample and send that off but in that video we made the spiritual connection to the soil being the heart and and the work that that the hard work that needs to happen to become a balanced you know receiver of the seeds of truth that we're trying to plant in the heart making those spiritual connections where we just kind of have a mission to every little video that we make we're trying to bridge that gap and make that spiritual connection that living parable. Of what we're seeing in the garden and so all the videos are going to be agriculture related in and you know look into what's going on in the farm awesome biggie I guess I guess I would just encourage everybody to. No matter what. Where you're teaching from you know if you're in a school or home schooling or even just you know yourself working in the garden to to really be intentional about remaining remaining peaceful you know to. To get all wrapped up in. Your deadlines or your standards or anything like that it's going to come out of frustration and stresses and anxieties that's all going to come out to your kids and they're going to totally under do what God is trying to do in their heart by letting you know losing your peace in it and it's just I mean that's that's why he gave us the garden you know to be close to him and to to not be stressed and to trust and lean on him and just know that he's got everything under control still and I struggle with that you know I struggle with that this curriculum helped me a lot to not lose my peace you know worrying about the standards and stuff but just remember remember the big picture and what you're trying to convey to your kids you know it's not meeting the standard it's meeting got up there so many men and Helios that you guys would like to share now Ok so you know just like you cannot. You know just go out and plan a garden you have to have a plan right and you have to have intentionality and you have to have a record and you have to know your goals and then the next year you build on those and you need to be the same way with education you know yes of course naturally there are wonderful lessons occurring just because you're spending time outside but so much more I hope that you realize on this panel that there's so much more capable if you are just as intentional with your education plan at the beginning of the year as you had to be with your garden you had to read books you had to listen to things on audio versus you had to spend time investing mentally to prepare for the practicality of the garden and we just hope that this was helpful to you inspiring to your receiver thankful for the work that you guys are doing with the children of our of our schools and of our families and praise God for those of you who are also working very hard to connect the garden with God and with your students and yes Tommy when you close a silent prayer let's pray that your heavenly Father Lord we're so thankful for the gift of the garden and the education that it brings So Lord I just want to lift up all the teachers all the parents who are teaching their children the A.B.C.'s of education and that that will grow into a beautiful character that's after your likeness. And it actually changes as you intended it to be. Just. Be with all the students as well that are learning. Their heart and and made the lessons the spiritual lessons the that they learn as they work with the soil. And the plants. That you will be working on their hearts and bringing them closer and closer to you to a point where it's just they're just overflowing and it's overflowing to everyone around us and then we can we can be that blessing that you called us to be praise your name and thank you for the day Jesus even this media was brought to you by audio post a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio version or if you would like to listen to more sermon please visit w.w.w. dot audio Verse dot org.


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