Farm Education for Core Curriculum: Teachers and Farmers Partnering for the Future of Food Security

Progress report for ONC21-097

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2021: $39,999.00
Projected End Date: 11/01/2023
Grant Recipient: Good Shepherd Montessori School
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Therese Zimmerman
Good Shepherd Montessori School
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Project Information



Sustainability insecurities of our food system include: aging farmers, affordable access to healthy food, environmental damage, and affordable land acquisition for beginner farmers. Using a systems approach, schools can provide a logical venue to address these by partnering with small farmers and educating future farmers and consumers. Doing so will provide short and long term farm profits, stewardship of natural resources, and community resilience and quality of life.

This project is important and innovative because it fosters partnerships that are mutually beneficial while advancing farming education as a core curriculum in schools. Using a farmer developed curriculum, centered on sustainable practices, we will add academic standards, unique to current farm curriculums. Our curriculum will include a diverse collection of farmers across the NCR as role models and provide engaging activities for grades 3-12.

A Professional development workshop to disseminate curriculum and support and increase  teacher/farmer networking in the NCR will be developed, conducted, and evaluated. Farmers will  participate as content reviewers and expert instructors. Pre-post survey data will be collected from all participants and from students to measure attitudinal and  conceptual change regarding the curriculum. These results will be included in the SARE final report and future conferences.

Project Objectives:
  • Establish NRCS and review team partnership and meeting schedule
  • Review farm curriculum with established team
  • Hire farm intern(s) for  research,  marketing, video editing, and workshop needs 
  • Produce videos of 8-10 farmer enterprises highlighting sustainable farming practices from each state in the NCR
  • Hire STEM education expert to apply Next Generation Science Standards(NGSS) and evaluation rubrics to curriculum, and create pre-post surveys 
  • Conduct curriculum reviews by academic experts
  • Edit and Publish curriculum
  • Plan and execute a Professional workshop conference for farmer /teacher networking, curriculum dissemination and training
  • Collect and evaluate pre/post survey data
  • Prepare SARE reports


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Grace Kyle (Educator)


Involves research:
Materials and methods:

The sequence of events that are working for us for building curriculum units/chapter reviews by our review team, by chapter, include-

1 -individual reviews on own time

2 group discussion

3 rewrites

4 Next generation Science standards and teacher rubrics added 

5 editing grammar; back to #1

For farmer spotlight - We started this too late last Spring. This year we have already started hunting down appropriate farmers to include in our spotlight video series. There is so much back and forth with the selection process farmers lost interest when their field work got started. We are hoping this early approach will be more successful.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

10 Consultations
1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools

Participation Summary:

4 Farmers
2 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

Our farmer consultant team including one agriculture professional meet regularly to review  curriculum chapters relating to the inclusion of Next Generation Science Standards. We are behind our timeline but progressing nicely for completion before the grant expires. The rewrites and busy farming schedules have slowed progress over the Spring and Summer. There is much more back and forth than anticipated to get to a final draft. One of our Academic reviewers has reviewed the first 3 chapters and offered constructive help for the organization of the added science standard and rewrites. Standards are being added to the chapters as rewrites are completed, so are behind schedule as well. Some testing of the materials are being done with a sixth grade class at GSMS where they are finding great success with the content. I am currently working with the 3rd intern hire for the Spring semester. Our work locating interested , regenerative style, farmers proved slow last Spring. I think we started to late. We have begun in earnest finding the remainder of farms to spotlight, hoping an early start for them will be more successful. One area that has been difficult to find in our farmer line up is racial diversity. It is important to the project, so we will not fill all farmer spots until we do. Any help in this area is greatly appreciated.

I am considering asking SARE for an extension for the outreach seminar from 3/23 to 5/23. I would prefer to make this seminar an in-person event rather than a zoom event. I think the quality of the seminar would be improved by doing so for participants. I am looking for more funding to make this happen and will contact you as soon as I am able to make that decision(By May 1).






Learning Outcomes

1 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation

Project Outcomes

4 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

Using a systems approach, schools can provide a logical venue to address food resilience and sustainability topics. By partnering with small farmers and educating future farmers and consumers through relevant easy to follow cross curriculum, with science standards, education we can shape the future generations of consumers. Doing so will provide short and long term farm profits, stewardship of natural resources, and community resilience and quality of life.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.