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: 06/30/2024
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)
  • Dr. Krista Bailey (Educator)
  • Dr. Terri Hebert (Educator)
  • Dr. Charlotte Wolfe, Ph.D (Educator)
  • Dr. Damji Heo-Stratton (Educator)
  • Tyler Popa (Educator)
  • Madlean Koehl
  • Jeff Klapp Jr.
  • Gwynneth Hurley
  • Samantha Buchanan-Church (Educator)
  • Noah Gonring
  • Matthew Insley


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

6 Academic review on final drafts

7 Final edits

For farmer spotlight - We continue to reach out to small farmers that specialize in regenerative practices. We have actually gone through the process twice and even with farmer commitments we have not had a good follow through. I think this part of the project would be more successful if we went to the farmers and did the filming ourselves versus having them send in clips. I am surprised by this.

Research results and discussion:

Our focus is education.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

10 Consultations

Participation Summary:

7 Farmers participated
Education/outreach description:

Our farmer consultant team including, one agriculture professional, have nearly completed their work reviewing curriculum units. Dr Damji Hoe has finished her involvement in the project with regards to adding academic standards to the document and has moved out of state. I have reallocated some academic funds to complete the first review relating to the inclusion of Next Generation Science Standards. We continue to be behind our timeline but progressing for completion before the grant expires. The rewrites have been quite involved. There is much more back and forth than anticipated to get to a final draft. Testing of the materials continue with a sixth grade class at GSMS.

Our work locating interested, regenerative small farmers has proven to be frustrating. We have had commitments numerous times but no follow through. I am not sure why as the pay is very generous for their time commitment. We have completed four small farmer videos(goal is 8) spotlighting regenerative agriculture practices in the NCR. The 6 month extension will give us more time to work on this area of the grant. We are thinking about using local farms to complete this. I had hoped to represent more states in the NCR with these spotlights but it is not working out. One area that continues to be difficult is finding racial diversity among these farmers. 

We are excited to present a live seminar in August and are working on marketing, website development for registration and planning the event including getting speakers and breakout session hosts.







Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
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 education, with science standards, we can shape the future generations of consumers and expose students to farming as a rewarding career. Doing so can provide short and long term farm profits, stewardship of natural resources, and community resilience and quality of life. Good curriculum will encourage and support  teachers in this movement. 

Success stories:

All our videoed farmers, spotlight series, have done an excellent job in portraying their farm businesses and their niches in production. They all have expressed the need for farming exposure for youth and have said things like, "this is great", "how exciting".


I appreciate the extension on the project - I think an in person workshop is more valuable than zoom and will be more educational too.

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.