Each month we feature a Kansas teacher who has excelled at incorporating agriculture into their classroom curriculum. Check back each month for inspiration and new ideas on ways to share the rich story of agriculture with your students!
“There is nothing better than seeing a child capture a concept for the very first time.”
This observation is what drives Sarah Clancy to be the best teacher she can be. Clancy says watching her students learn and understand new ideas and concepts is one of the most rewarding parts of her job and why she continues on as a third grade teacher at Marlatt Elementary in Manhattan.
“It’s amazing to watch their eyes light up and see the processing that’s going on behind them,” she said. “I still get just as excited as they do!”
The excitement in Clancy’s third grade class is because of the hands-on learning that takes place. Clancy puts a lot of emphasis on plant growth and development in her science class, particularly in the fall season. Dissecting fruits and vegetables, studying flowers and vein structures in leaves under a microscope and watching their own plants grow are just a few of the engaging activities that occur.
Technology is an important part of Clancy’s hands-on activities. She incorporates video clips that enhance the student’s learning whenever possible, including those produced by the Peterson Farm Brothers. Clancy’s students also regularly use an app called “Leaf Snap” that allows them to identify which plant the leaves came from.Learning also takes place beyond the classroom walls. Each fall she takes her class on a field trip to the Konza Prairie where they discuss conservation of the environment; root structures of plants and the important role insects play in the ecosystem.
“Students are motivated and driven by their own curiosity to answer questions about the leaves or roots or insects they have found,” she said. “It is truly the best way to teach science, in my opinion.”
Clancy works to carry the enthusiasm for agriculture and environmental learning into the spring semester as well. She invites a local dietitian into her classroom to discuss the importance of fresh foods and eating healthy. Her students also plant vegetables, herbs and fruits to take home with them over the summer for their own gardens. She comments that doing this allows them to revisit all of the growth concepts that were taught in the fall.
Fall harvest holds a special place in Clancy’s heart. Having grown up watching her dad farm in Bazine, Kan., Clancy says harvest was one of her favorite times of year and is a reason she loves to teach the plant growth cycle.
“I can still remember the smell of the freshly harvested crops and the soil after the fields have been turned,” she said. “I think being on the farm during harvest time inspired me to have a love for things that grow.”
Clancy makes that connection to the farm for her students throughout the year as they discuss the plant growth and development cycle, from planting to harvest. A task that comes easy to her.
“A job is not hard when you’re doing what you love,” she said. “Teaching agriculture in my classroom allows us to grow and learn all year long.”
The underlying tone of Clancy’s classroom is that farming directly impacts the community around them. It is her goal for students to see how agriculture affects not just them, but the world around them as well.
“Letting the students see for themselves how everything is connected gives them a deeper understanding of how things work and how we need each other in a community,” she said.
Clancy’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. She was recently awarded the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (KFAC) Excellence in Teaching award sponsored by the Kansas Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. She will be recognized during the KFAC annual meeting in Nov.
Clancy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.