US (VA): Teacher program makes horticulture ‘a lot more accessible’ in the classroom

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When school is back in this fall, dozens of teachers nationwide will be better equipped to talk with students about horticulture career opportunities using their experiences and Seed Your Future resources thanks to Seed to STEM, an immersive professional development program.

“It was remarkable to see the teachers walking through the locations, making the connection to the science they teach in their classrooms,” says Jazmin Albarran, executive director of Seed Your Future, which developed the program as part of its mission to increase awareness of careers in the industry.

During the four-day immersive experience June 2-5, the teachers were exposed to horticulture careers while visiting destinations around Indianapolis including Corteva Agriscience, the wholesaler Kennicott Brothers Company’s distribution center, Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center at Purdue University, Newfields Indianapolis Museum of Art and Heartland Growers.

“For many, it was their first time in a commercial greenhouse; seeing many plants in one place at Heartland Growers amazed them,” Albarran recalls. “They were astonished when they saw how much automation exists or the number of careers involved in growing plants.”

As part of the program, teachers are in the process of creating free lesson plans that will be posted to Seed Your Future’s website, available to any educator.

Kyla Sankara, a teacher from Georgia, says that the program helped her think about new lessons for her classroom that meet the Next Generation Science Standards.

“It’s helping me think about what I’ve already been doing but in a new way, and it actually makes the lessons a lot more accessible for the students and engaging,” she says. “It’s just a win across the board.”

South Carolina teacher Amanda Gladys was brainstorming ways to get students interested in floral design.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if students grew the flowers for prom,” she asked as she arranged florals during an activity at Kennicott. Combining flower design with prom — “something that every high school student knows about” — would have a tremendous impact, Gladys said.

David McCullough teaches 8th grade in rural Pennsylvania, where many students are familiar with the basics of farming. He’s eager to share with his students career opportunities such as drone operation, and electrical plumbing.

Maryland teachers Ligaya Diculen and Ramona Tabang are excited to determine how they can start a horticulture club at their high school.

Kelly Stringe, a high school chemistry teacher from Pennsylvania, is excited to take lessons back to her classroom and develop simple experiments for her students. She says the program was the best professional development experience she’s ever had and called it an “amazing, immersive experience.”

Talia Steiger, a math and science teacher from New York, found it eye-opening that so many multi-generational businesses exist in the industry. But she also noted the value of working with flowers as a stress management activity, which is important to the many special needs students she works with who experience anxiety and depression.

“I’m always looking for activities that incorporate nature but are also therapeutic,” she says. The 2025 Seed to STEM program will take place in Chicago, Illinois. Applications will open January 2025. Visit the website to learn more Educator Training – Seed Your Future.

For more information:
Seed Your Future

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