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Tiffany Porter, Learning Coach at Crimson View Elementary School in the Washington County School District, has been chosen to receive the Utah Agriculture in the Classroom (Utah AITC) Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award. Porter is being recognized for her efforts to increase agricultural literacy by creating a schoolwide program utilizing a greenhouse, aquaponics system, and weather station. The project, From Seed to Table, includes kindergarten through fifth grade students and furthers the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) focus of the school.
The greenhouse, aquaponics system, and weather station were made possible through a STEMlink grant written by Porter and awarded by the Utah Department of Workforce Services in partnership with the STEM Action Center and the Utah State Board of Education. The greenhouse is heated and cooled using geothermal energy and the electricity used to power the lights and fans comes from solar energy. Students use information from the weather station to adjust conditions in the greenhouse to best grow their plants.
Each grade level chooses which plants they will grow. The students research the vegetables they are interested in growing to learn about the temperatures, humidity, and fertilization required. The vegetables grown are then offered during school lunch in the salad bar. This fall the school enjoyed a Thanksgiving Feast featuring crops grown by the students. “We feel if students help grow the vegetables, they will be more interested in eating them at lunch,” notes Porter.
“The objectives we are achieving through this project are many,” explains Porter. “Students explore agriculture and how to grow produce. Students are gaining a better understanding of where food comes from and the time and effort that goes into growing food. Students learn responsibility in caring for the plants. Students are discovering more about the STEM process by taking care of the plants and using technology and math to keep track of the data. Students record weather, wind, and water data and discover how these elements affect plant growth in our area. Students are learning about the different careers and occupations they can achieve if they have an interest in horticulture. We are bringing teachers, students, parents, the university, and businesses from our community together to sustain this project.”