Tim Uhlenkamp and Jeff Eppen
2011 Ideas Unlimited Winners
Farm to School Program Prepares Students for Agronomy Careers, Supplies Fresh Food to School
Tim Uhlenkamp and Jeff Eppen teach agriculture at Sibley East High School in Arlington, Minn. Since employment opportunities abound for students with a background in soil science and crop production in their area, Uhlenkamp and Eppen decided to re-work the course offerings in their program’s agronomy pathway to make the classes more attractive to students and help them take advantage of local jobs.
In collaboration with their advisory board and school administration, the co-teachers created Sibley East’s Farm to School program. Farm to School has three goals: to produce fresh produce to use in school lunches, to attract more students into the career pathway of agronomy, and to promote agriculture to community members.
Students plant, maintain and harvest a one-acre vegetable garden. This garden has supplied the school with cabbage, onions, potatoes, beans, carrots, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers to use in school lunches. Program volunteers work during the summer to ensure a healthy crop for harvest in the fall. Summer crop work allows students to have a Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) and gain valuable practical experience, which is attractive to prospective employers. They freeze any vegetables harvested during summer, saving them for the upcoming school year.
“Our school has witnessed a great reaction from the community seeing a very innovative project. We as advisors have seen students motivated to learn from an experience that many students do not have an opportunity to participate in around the state,” said Uhlenkamp.
Uhlemkamp and Eppen received the Region III Ideas Unlimited award for their innovative program. All Ideas Unlimited winners received a plaque and stipend to attend the NAAE convention in St Louis. Delmar Cengage Learning sponsors the Ideas Unlimited Award. For more information about the Ideas Unlimited and all NAAE awards, visit http://www.naae.org/awards/applications/