Congratulations to Amy Bowman and Doug Vernon, who forged the relationships with Kannapolis City Schools that led to Plants for Human Health Institute being selected as the 2019 recipients of the Kannapolis Education Foundation’s Friend of Education Award. Dr. Chip Buckwell, superintendent of KCS, presented the award at the KEF Breakfast on March 22, at The Laureate Center at the NC Research Campus.
The theme of the fundraising breakfast was “Learning As We Grow.” More than 100 attendees heard from elementary and middle school teachers and students who are using school gardens as an integrated part of their curriculum. Ashlyn Ozment at G.W. Carver Elementary is using drones to teach pollination, coding robots to sow seeds and using the garden harvest as a springboard in reading, social studies and math. At Kannapolis Middle, agriculture education teacher, Tim Downing, is tackling production; from growing and postharvest care to processing and marketing. The school’s culinary arts program uses the fresh produce in their restaurants.
Doug launched the Scientist for a Day program in 2015. KCS teachers select students to participate in this day of hands-on, age-appropriate lab experience at the Plants for Human Health Institute. Scientist for a Day introduces students to basic lab skills and features lab scientists who speak about some aspect of research that is happening at PHHI. Doug’s vision was to offer a high impact experience exposing students to the exciting job opportunities in STEM, right here in Kannapolis. He also thought that it was a great opportunity to begin building stronger connections between the campus and the community. Since its inception, nearly 300 students have been “Scientists for a Day.”
Amy and Doug work together providing teacher training and resources that support the use of school gardens as an outdoor classroom space. As former classroom teachers, they understand the importance of using standards-based lesson plans in conjunction with engaging applications of the learning objective.
The Kannapolis Education Foundation provides additional STEM resources to students in KCS, including school garden tools that will further support the expansion of school garden programs.