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Woman By Katy Fassler


Debra Wagner Gardening for Grades


akeland’s Own Award Winning Teacher bringing Gardening into the Classroom

St. Paul Lutheran School in Lakeland is creating quite a buzz. Debra Wagner, a 4th grade teacher, is helping students create gardens which are winning awards. Wagnor has been teaching Agriculture classes as part of her science curriculum since 2004. She was awarded the Ag in the Class Excellence in Teaching Ag award in 2007 and this was the beginning of truly understanding how to implement agriculture throughout the curriculum. Each year she added a variety of gardens to help children of different ages to enjoy the benefits of gardening. The Ag in the Class curriculum can be used with hydroponic gardening, raised beds, and butterfly gardens to teach environmental education along with the basic skills of reading, math, writing, science, and social studies. The National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference held its “2014 Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Awards” in June, where all the winners won a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania. The leaders awarded teachers all over the nation with awards for their leadership, class gardens and Heartland success with bringing agriculture into our schools. Wagner LIVING won the American Farm Bureau White’ Reinhardt Scholarship Award. The White’ Reinhardt Fund for Education is a special August project of the American Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership September 2014 Committee. The award and scholarship are in honor of Berta White and Linda Reinhardt, two former leaders of 72 the committee.

Debra Wagner

“I find school gardens a good way to teach children to be good stewards of the land and appreciate all the hard work that goes into growing their food. It is a way all students from a variety of cultures and abilities can feel successful,” said Wagner. Gardening teaches much more than simply growing food. “Agriculture lessons can be used throughout the curriculum,” says Wagner. “They encourage critical-thinking, problem solving skills, and cooperative learning which fits into STEM lessons. It is a great way to have an object lesson for reading skills. There are many books, both fictional and non-fiction, to reach common core literature standards. Journal writing, sketching and descriptive narratives are enhanced from observing plants and pollinators in the garden. Math skills from measurement like area and figuring yield at harvest are gleaned from the gardens. Science skills are numerous like botany, water conservation and environmental habitats are covered in the garden too.” Wagnor received grants from Ag in the Class and The Farm Bureau to help fund this project. The vegetables they grew were to encourage healthy eating. We read a variety of books and made a list of different types of vegetables they

Heartland Living Aug-Sept Issue 2014  
Heartland Living Aug-Sept Issue 2014  

Heartland Living is published bi-monthly by Heartland Publications & Marketing. Serving the Heartland of Florida - Sebring, FL - we highligh...