Teacher Champion - Kevin Dranchuk
In this issue of our BCAITC Teacher Champion series, we profile BC teacher Kevin Dranchuk. Discover his passion for educating students about BC agriculture, food, and the environment.
What school do you teach? A: I teach at Ruth King Elementary in Langford BC.
What grade(s) do you teach? A: I work with grades 1 -5. Currently, my role in the school is as Teacher-Librarian and Outdoor Educator (focus on gardening and food production).
How and when did you first learn about BCAITC? A: I first learned about the BCAITC programs through a colleague about 10 years ago and have been enrolled in BCAITC programs for 4 years.
How long have you been teaching students about BC agriculture and food? A: It was during my first teaching contract (Kindergarten) 23 years ago that I was able to explore the possibilities of bringing agriculture education to the classroom. In the spring of that year, my classroom hatched chicks, raised salmon and grew beans on the windowsill!
What are the most important things that you want your students to learn about BC agriculture and food? A: I want my students to understand the concept of urban agriculture and that healthy foods can be grown in small spaces. Whether you have a small backyard, patio or even a balcony we can all enjoy growing and producing something fresh to eat. I would also like them to explore the community around us (urban, inter-spaces, rural) with their families to source healthy food producers close to home to help keep food costs down. Last, but not least I would like my students to engage in gardening activities as a way to get exercise, get fresh air, as well as reconnect with nature and each other creatively and playfully.
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 2020 Fresh Story resources are the best. They are colourful, engaging and have a great balance of imagery and written information for students to engage with. The activity sheets have something for everyone – math activities, recipes and rich vocabulary to extend conversations.
What is your favourite BCAITC program and why? A: The Spuds in Tubs Program is my favourite as it has been a great model for demonstrating food production in small spaces. Once the tubs are harvested in June, we can use them to grow a second crop. Lettuce, beans and tomatoes are a few favourites. I have also enjoyed working with the Planting a Promise program and Fresh to You Fundraiser. The Fresh to You Fundraiser program is a great way to promote BC agriculture and fundraise for our garden program.
Describe an agriculture or food-based project/program you have implemented in your classroom/school recently. A: In 2021, our school started a school garden program project, with the support of our PAC and the current administration, we secured a space and put up the necessary fencing in June of that year. When students returned to school in September, they prepared garden beds and many hands made the creation of a beautiful space! Last season we grew lettuce, radishes, raspberries, ‘Naked Bear’ pumpkins, beans, and so much more. The highlight of the season was our ‘Glass Gem’ popcorn. What an amazing display of colours! Our garden is also home to about 15 native plant species. I aim to expand my knowledge of their use in Indigenous food and medicine so that I can share that with my students, as well. The garden is seen as a space for more than just growing fruits and vegetables. It is a space to build relationships, develop communication skills, have some alone time or read with a friend.
Do you have any advice for other educators on how to integrate agriculture and food education into their curriculum? A: Start by asking your students what is important to them. You will be amazed by their experiences, knowledge and the questions they have about soil, plants, insects, water etc. Collaborate! Reaching out to colleagues within your school or district is always a great place to start. Persevere in your passion for the work! The experiences our students enjoy and the learning that takes place within these spaces (whether it be a windowsill or a 5-acre plot) are invaluable and empowering and they will carry those things with them for the rest of their lives.
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.