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Utah Agriculture in the Classroom

Teacher Award

State & National Teacher Award 2006

Susan Tenhor

Monte Vista Elementary School, South Jordan, Utah
3rd Grade
Susan Tenhor

Ms. Tenhor's innovative instructional methods and strategies in teaching agriculture have made a huge impact on her students. The third graders were involved in real-life, hands-on activities in learning about where their food comes from, processing, distribution, science, and the environmental issues of food and fiber production.

Through sharing her own life's lessons about agriculture, Susan provided meaningful learning experiences for her students. Because she raises chickens for egg production, she brought several of her Americana chickens into the classroom so that students could compare and contrast breeds and draw pictures in their journals of the gestation stages of different animals. "The kids know that humans take nine months. They were surprised to learn that chicks only take 21 days to hatch, and that elephants take about two years!"

Creative, interdisciplinary learning strategies motivated students in math, writing, social studies and science. They applied math skills in determining how long it would take to get enough cotton (hand-picking vs. machine) to make a t-shirt. Journals were used to track students’ food intake for one week and to discuss how modern technology has changed agricultural production today. Students role-played Peruvian children who, historically, stomped the water out of potatoes to create naturally freeze-dried potatoes. Science lessons on bees and pollination reinforced the importance of bee communities and their role in agriculture. Students even simulated a bee "dance" to demonstrate how bees communicate with each other to locate flowers.

Originally from Brooklyn, Tenhor now owns enough land in Utah so that her horses, goats and chickens have a place to roam. Her students participated in a pen-pal exchange with a class in Brooklyn, exposing students there to agriculture, coming full circle in bringing agriculture to the city. "Children should not grow up without knowing where their food, clothing, and other products come from."