Teacher Champion - Janine Jackson
In this issue of our BCAITC Teacher Champion series, we profile BC teacher Janine Jackson. Discover her passion for educating students about BC agriculture, food, and the environment.
What school do you teach at? A: I currently teach at Dorothy Peacock Elementary in Langley.
What grade(s) do you teach? A: I teach Grade 2.
How and when did you first learn about BCAITC? A: I first learned about BCAITC in 2017 when another teacher told me about the Spuds in Tubs program. It seemed like a fantastic program for the students I was teaching. After I applied, I was welcomed into the program very quickly and have enjoyed participating in it ever since.
How long have you been teaching students about BC agriculture and food? A: I have been teaching students about food and agriculture in BC for about six years now. In the beginning, it was mostly around the Spuds in Tubs program; however, I have been increasing the food and nutrition program I teach. This is giving students more opportunities to learn about (and try) foods that are grown in British Columbia.
What are the most important things that you want your students to learn about BC agriculture and food? A: I want to increase the appreciation students have for healthy, local foods. I often hear from parents about how their child is a picky eater and is hesitant to try new foods. When we make healthy meals and the children help us prepare them, I find they get excited about these new foods and are more willing to try (and enjoy) them. I think the biggest shock for students is how delicious a salad can be - it always surprises me how many kids have never eaten a salad before!
BCAITC has over 500 free downloadable resources including lesson plans, activities, videos, recipes, and more! What is your favourite BCAITC resource and why? A: The recipes are my favourite BCAITC resource. There are some fantastic recipes that are simple and easy to recreate. I have also participated in a few of the Cook-Along sessions with BCAITC. Many of these videos are posted online, so you can cook along with Chef Randle and not only make delicious food but also learn about how some of the ingredients are grown by the farmers who grow them.
The other resource I often use is the Fresh Story pages. Our school participates in the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Program, so we regularly receive different fruits and vegetables for the kids to enjoy. When we get something new or a bit different, I like to open up the Fresh Story for that item to teach the kids more about it.
What is your favourite BCAITC program and why? A: My favourite program is Spuds in Tubs. There are so many valuable lessons my students learn with this program. The students have to be responsible for their plants and make sure they are watering them regularly. They see how simple it is to grow food, even when you don't have a garden. The shock and amazement on their faces when they finally harvest their potatoes and find out how many they were able to grow is also incredibly rewarding.
In 2019, I also had the opportunity to participate in BCAITC's Educators Agriculture Tour (E. A. T.). Through this event, I learned a lot about BCAITC and all the wonderful activities, resources, and programs they have available for teachers and students.
Describe an agriculture or food-based project/program you have implemented in your classroom/school recently. A: With the help of a student teacher, we recently started an Eco-Club at our school. This is a lunch club for students who are interested in working on our community garden and helping students at our school build better recycling habits. The kids who participate are very excited to help the school and are learning a lot about both agriculture and sustainability.
Do you have any advice for other educators on how to integrate agriculture and food education into their curriculum? A: My advice is to start with something small that you love doing. If you enjoy taking care of plants in your house, have your students take care of a small plant in their desk/table groups, they love giving their plant a name and checking to see if it needs water.
If you love cooking, try making something easy together in your classroom for example, a friendship fruit salad for Valentine's Day is a great activity. Students bring cut fruit from home, turn it into a fruit salad, and then eat it together in the classroom. As you put each fruit into the fruit salad, you can use Fresh Stories and talk about where it is grown or how it is harvested.
Another activity, I recommend is to bring up BCAITC's Agriculture, Fish and Food Map - as the kids are eating their snack or lunch, investigate some of the foods they brought to find out where in BC they may have come from.
About the Teacher Champion Series: This monthly BCAITC series features BC teachers and school staff who are passionate about providing agriculture and food education to K-12 students. For more information, contact BCAITC Communications Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.