Wednesday, April 11, 2018

For Immediate Release

Educators Seeking Sustainability Resources
Find Recipes for Success

at MITS Professional Development Seminar

Worcester, MA – At the March 28th MITS 2018 Professional Development Seminar, 50 educators satisfied their appetites for sustainability resources by engaging in hands-on activities led by presenters from Shelburne Farms, Vermont FEED and Massachusetts Farm to School. During this one-day workshop, participants explored food systems and discovered ways to incorporate “farm-to-school” concepts into programming at their institutions.

An educator reveals the percentage of the Earth that can be farmed, using an apple to represent the whole planet.

Strengthening Sustainability Learning Through Farm-to-School Connections
During a kick-off brainstorming session, educators noted how sustainability is connected to many topics, such as health, economics, conservation and overpopulation. Building off of these connections, participants gained insights into the community benefits of using organic, local produce in classrooms and school cafeterias. To illustrate how sustainability fits with the state learning standards, educators engaged in a series of inquiry-based investigations.

In small groups, educators considered one of the essential questions facing our species: How can we feed nine billion people? They brainstormed what students might need to know, understand and do to take on this challenge. Participants then engaged in a tasty activity that provided a visual representation of the availability of farmable land on Earth. Each group used an apple as a model, chopping it up to show how small the percentage is of land that can actually be used for agriculture. Hungry for more ideas, educators used their “Earth” to make Moroccan Apple-Carrot Salad, all the while considering ways to better implement hands-on culinary activities to engage students in the Science and Engineering Practices. Educators further explored sustainability topics, like agricultural practices and transportation techniques, by comparing the resources used to bring a single locally or non-locally produced meal to the table.

Participants make dressing for the Moroccan Apple-Carrot Salad.

About the Presenters
Ryan Morra is the Professional Learning Coordinator at Shelburne Farms. In this role, he oversees the Vermont FEED (Food Education Every Day) and Education for Sustainability Partnerships programs. Ryan holds a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College (Asheville, NC) and a M.S. from University of Vermont (Burlington, VT). His background includes farming, sustainable forestry, leading outdoor adventures, and teaching through place-based and project-based learning.

Simca Horwitz is the Co-Director at Massachusetts Farm to School, where she works with farmers, food service directors and advocates to increase local foods procurement and education at schools and other institutions. Simca’s passion for local food has led her to work at several Boston-area agricultural non-profits, where she has contributed through farming, educating, and cooking. She holds an M.S. in Food and Agriculture Policy from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

Rachel Harb is the Training & Events Coordinator at Massachusetts Farm to School. She co-founded the UMass Amherst Dining Services permaculture and sustainability programs, secured $1.4M in grant funding for food and farming projects, and has consulted on farm-to-school programs across the northeast region. She currently coordinates workshops and trainings for farm-to-school stakeholders, and provides individualized technical assistance to schools and other institutions.

Presenters (Left to Right): Rachel Harb, Simca Horwitz, Ryan Morra

MITS Professional Development Seminars
At MITS Professional Development Seminars, educators further their understanding of science content and gain insights into inquiry-based curriculum implementation. These programs are designed to inspire informal educators to delve deeper into the Science and Engineering Practices and the 2016 MA Curriculum Frameworks through hands-on investigations. Participating educators share ideas, gather resources and bring new concepts back to their institutions. To learn more about other MITS seminars, visit: http://mits.org/2018-professional-development-seminar-series/

After the hands-on activity, educators tasted their Moroccan Apple-Carrot Salad.

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The Museum Institute for Teaching Science specializes in providing hands-on, minds-on, inquiry-based STEM professional development for formal and informal educators.  For more information, visit www.mits.org or call 617-328-1515.