Terrebonne Community School is home to this year’s Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Educator of the Year.
First-grade teacher Jennifer Callahan earned the award by bringing agriculture to life for her students. Callahan does this by managing a community garden, sharing the culinary use of crops and hatching chicks.
Here is the full announcement from Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom:
Terrebonne, Oregon – Jennifer Callahan from Terrebonne Community School was honored as the 2023 Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) Educator of the Year during the Fall Harvest Dinner and Auction held at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center on Saturday, October 21. Jennifer was selected for her integration of agriculture into core subject areas within her classroom curriculum.
The Educator of the Year award recognizes outstanding educators for their creative efforts of teaching students about the importance of agriculture. This year’s award recipient Jennifer Callahan of Terrebonne Community School epitomizes this concept in her role teaching first grade students in their outdoor learning space and classroom greenhouse about agriculture. Jennifer believes “teaching agriculture to primary students fosters a deeper understanding of where their food comes from, instills respect for nature and promotes essential life skills like responsibility and sustainability.”
Agriculture is brought to life in Ms. Callahan’s classroom through projects such as managing the Terrebonne Community Garden and outdoor space, exploring culinary uses of crops and hatching chicks. Students begin learning about managing the Community Garden through the creation of fairy gardens. Through this activity students learn about “the planning of paths, placement of flowers and general landscaping ideas that are then implemented in their outdoor learning space.” The garden provides students the opportunity to learn about responsibility and care of plants, track weather data and create a nutrient-rich compost for their garden.
Callahan expands students learning by incorporating guest speakers and exploring the culinary use of their harvest. Last spring, a local legend story teller from Warm Springs visited Ms. Callahan’s class to talk about eating the roots of different plants grown in the area. With this visit, students learned that many of the foods we eat come from different parts of plants. Additionally, Callahan provided the opportunity for students to explore other culinary uses of the produce they grew in the garden and classroom greenhouse through the cooking of vegetable soup. This activity helps student recognize healthy foods and provides real-life applicability to the produce grown by students in the classroom.
In the spring, Callahan’s students explore the breeds and life cycle of chickens while incubating eggs. In this unit, students are challenged to create a candling device to track the growth of the developing embryo. This project provides an interdisciplinary activity for students to learn science and language arts through the creation of birth certificates and adoption forms. Hatching chicks is “a memorable learning experience that students reminisce about as they come back to visit years after” said Ms. Callahan.
Callahan believes that involvement in these curricular units “connects students to the environment and encourages a healthy and environmentally conscious lifestyle.” Among the many experiential learning opportunities that Jennifer Callahan provides her students, she still continues to find ways to incorporate new and exciting agricultural subject areas into her classroom curriculum. Jennifer participates in many of AITC’s programs including topic specific professional development, the utilization of hands-on agriculture activities and virtual field trips. Jennifer says “thanks to Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom I’ve been able to not only increase agricultural literacy for my students but also increase my own professional learning.”
Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom is very happy to present Jennifer Callahan with this award. Executive Director Jessica Jansen states, “Having a teacher like Jennifer, who sparks students’ enthusiasm through agriculture and natural resources, is truly remarkable. Jennifer offers educational experiences that enhance agricultural awareness among both her students and the broader community.”
Oregon AITC is dedicated to teaching K-12 students about agriculture, the environment and natural resources. The program works with teachers, schools and educational groups in the state to provide accurate, standards based lessons and resources.