Teachers Experience Agriculture Firsthand at Summer Institute
This is a guest post from Kaitlyn Lunt, Communications Assistant for Utah Agriculture in the Classroom. We'll be partnering with Utah AITC on their Summer Institutes for the next three years! On June 5-7, 2023, teachers from all over the state of Utah attended Utah Agriculture in the Classroom’s annual Summer Agriculture Institute in Cache Valley. These teachers came from various backgrounds including agricultural education, family and consumer sciences education, and elementary education. During the institute, teachers learned more about the farm to fork process by experiencing production firsthand during farm tours and hearing from professionals in the industry. Participants had the opportunity to go on many farm tours during the conference. They started at Cache County Extension learning about cooking in the classroom from Jenna Dyckman, Home and Community Department. Teachers learned new recipes to take back to their classrooms and even got to make some of the recipes themselves! They continued their tour with Cache County Extension at a local community garden where JayDee Gunnell, horticulture specialist, showed highlights of the garden and offered advice on how to start a garden at school. The garden utilizes various growing practices to produce local foods. Matt Bangerter from IFA gave a tour of his beehives in North Logan where teachers had the opportunity to suit up and see an up-close demonstration with the bees. Zollinger’s Fruit & Tree Farm also provided a tour of their family’s operation and shared facts about apples and cider production. Did you know that to get the best tasting apple juice you need to use the juice from many different varieties of apples? Farm tours continued the next day at Central Milling. Central Milling is a flour mill that has been operating in Utah since 1867. They pride themselves on being the farmer, the miller, and the baker. They shared their full farm to fork process from working with local Utah organic wheat farmers, carefully crafting the wheat into a flour that meets each of their baker’s specific purposes, and then delivering that flour to bakers all over the country. Teachers experienced USU’s very own cow-to-cone process starting at the USU Caine Dairy where teachers learned about different breeds of dairy cows and how USU implements advanced technology to meet each cow’s individual needs. Teachers even got to see the robotic milkers in action! The cow-to-cone process continued with a tour of the USU Aggie Creamery. This is where the milk from the USU Caine Dairy is taken to create famous Aggie ice cream and cheese. Next, teachers traveled to the Aggie Chocolate Factory where they witnessed the process of how single-origin chocolate is made from bean-to-bar. They even taste-tested different kinds of chocolate and learned about the unique flavors. Tours ended at the USU Teaching Greenhouse where teachers learned about plant production and received tips on greenhouse maintenance. Participants also heard from farm to fork experts during the conference. Kate Wheeler, Utah State Board of Education child nutrition specialist, spoke to teachers about the Utah Farm to fork Program. Then Dr. Carrie Durward, nutrition specialist at Utah State University, provided information about the importance of nutrition in childhood education. During the institute, teachers participated in various teaching workshops. These workshops included lesson demonstrations from the Utah Agriculture in the Classroom Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix . Teachers went home with resource bags of lesson kits and a greater knowledge of the farm to fork process that can be applied to their classroom instruction. Are you interesting in participating in one of these great workshops next summer? Visit https://utah.agclassroom.org/teacher/newsletters/ to sign up for the Utah Agriculture in the Classroom newsletter, and be the first to know when registration opens.