This year we are excited about the opportunity to partner with three third grade classes at Sitton Elementary School in the St Johns neighborhood for the second year of a place-based education pilot project. Thanks to funding from the East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District, these 70 students will visit the farm in the fall, winter and spring of the 2015/16 school year and our education staff will visit them in the classroom twice during the winter months to deliver a couple more complementary farm-based lessons.
Last year was our first round of this more intensive farm-based education. Changes in understanding about life cycles could be seen both in our learning assessment, administered at the beginning and end of the year and also in the nature journals kept by each student. But much of the impact can’t be captured by statistics.
As Shannon Baker, one of the 3rd grade teachers at James John put it: “To see a working farm that is only 15 minutes away from their homes was pretty astounding experience for many kids. The opportunity to plant seeds and see plants growing throughout the year was so much more valuable at a farm compared to having seedlings in cups on the windowsill. Best of all was that the students got to taste all sorts of plants—the roots, stems, leaves, and flowers.” We are so pleased to have a second year to refine this program with a new set of kids and teachers. Stay tuned for more details as the year goes by.