State Summary 2017 — New Jersey
The NJFBWLC uses the MyPlate.gov resources to create lessons and exercises explaining healthy food choices and meals. With colorful food group plates and “fake” food, children and adults learn how agriculture produces valuable resources for their bodies and how to maintain healthy lifestyles. Resources can be found at www.choosemyplate.gov. The New Jersey Agricultural Society’s website includes 75 PreK-5 lesson plans that integrate the garden to everyday lessons in math, science, language arts, social studies, and health. It also includes Basic Gardening lessons that teach students what they need to know about gardening. These lessons can be found in the Learning through Gardening’s Teacher Toolbox at: www.njagsociety.og/teacher-toolbox.html. Also included is a list of 100 fiction and nonfiction children’s books related to gardening and agriculture, and a list of garden songs and poems for young children. The Teacher Toolbox pages also features a lesson of the month. More information can be obtained by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Agricultural Literacy Center in Sussex County, NJ uses onsite visits with visiting “stations” to provide hands-on learning to students. With units providing information on current farm operations, plant programs and agricultural time machine, farming present and past, this busy center teaches students much about their local area, as well as general agricultural practices. http://agriculturallearningcenter.com/html/programs-and-class-trips.cfm
Major Program Accomplishments or Outputs
In 2017, NJFBWLC held a Math & Literacy Ag Professional Development Workshop at William Paterson University, highlighting 6 Accurate Ag books and Florida’s Gardening Resource book. Each title presented was coordinated with lessons, recipes and/or online resources which were demonstrated during the workshop. In addition, the resources were given to each attendee on a usb drive for reproduction purposes throughout the grade levels in their schools. Each school attended also received a book bundle with each of the titles.
In 2017, the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s Learning Through Gardening program, awarded seven new grants to preschools and elementary schools to build new vegetable gardens and launch garden-teaching programs. A garden training grant was offered for the first time to schools with existing gardens whose staff wanted training for a garden-teaching program. One school was awarded this new grant. A total of 35 schools were active in the Learning Through Gardening program, including 17 schools in the three-year grant program and 18 schools that have graduated from the program but have chosen to stay connected. Kick-off garden pep rallies to introduce the school community to the garden were held at all new schools, and introductory garden-teaching workshops were held for these schools’ teachers designed to show them how to get started teaching about the garden and how to link the garden with everyday lessons in math, social studies, science, language arts, and health. Seeds and supplies for lessons that teachers can do in the classroom during the winter months were sent for 6,700 students. Twenty schools participated in Learning Through Gardening’s annual poster contest based on an agricultural theme, and 67 contest winners in grades K-5 were honored at the annual awards ceremony. The Agricultural Learning Center held onsite Ag education, as well as the AgBag program for classroom borrowing to bring agriculture to the classrooms in Sussex County. They also donated their leftover seeds to local schools putting in gardens, as well as donating seeds, soil and containers to NORWECAP Headstart.
Major Program Impacts or Outcomes
NJFBWLC reached 1,190 students and 125 adults were reached in 2017 through our classroom visits and programs, professional development workshops, on-farm visits and county fairs. 12,200 students were given the opportunity to grow and harvest their own vegetables in a Learning Through Gardening school garden. 1,183 teachers were given access to Learning Through Gardening curriculum, training, seeds, and materials. 68 teachers from 20 schools throughout New Jersey attended the Learning Through Gardening program’s annual Best Practices school garden workshop. About 300 people per month visited Learning Through Gardening’s Teacher Toolbox on the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s website (www.njagsociety.org). The Agricultural Learning Center reached 1,390 students with visits to the Center and 209 students with classroom presentations. In addition, 110 kindergarteners and their parents visited the center as a pre-curricular program. Lastly, 16 teachers, reaching approx. 480 students attended the teacher’s workshop at their location.
Caroline Etsch is a farmer in Middlesex County, NJ. She works with the NJFB Women’s Leadership Committee to present and develop programs for students, educators and the public of NJ to engage with farming on many levels throughout the state. She runs an Agri-Tourism business from her farm in Middlesex County, teaching every 3rd grader in Monroe Township about modern agriculture each fall. Although she attended many AITC conferences in the past, this is her first year as the State Contact. She is a Veterinary Technician by trade, a gardener by hobby and an educator at heart.