Teacher Champion - Jennifer Ingram

Teacher Champion - Jennifer Ingram

Teacher Champion - Jennifer Ingram

In this issue of our BCAITC Teacher Champion series, we profile BC teacher Jennifer Ingram. Discover her passion for educating students about BC agriculture, food, and the environment.

Q: What school do you teach at? A: I teach at Bench Elementary in Cowichan Bay.

Q: What grade(s) do you teach? A: I teach Grade 4/5.

Q: How and when did you first learn about BCAITC? A: I first learned about BCAITC at a Pro-D session a few years back. We received BCAITC resources about historical farming along the Fraser River.


Q: How long have you been teaching students about BC agriculture and food? A:  I have been teaching students about BC agriculture and food for approximately 25 years now.

Q: What are the most important things that you want your students to learn about BC agriculture and food? A: A few years ago, one of my students lived on a boat in Cowichan Bay, and his family grew potatoes and tomatoes in tubs on the deck. I would like my students to realize that agriculture can be big or small and they can grow food at home no matter where they live because it is fun, healthy and good for the environment. I also want them to know that agriculture is a viable career path for them in the future. Most importantly, I want them to be aware that there has always been an abundance and great variety of Indigenous foods here, and to start learning about foods that are native to where we live (recently eating the maple tree blossoms that they could reach was incredibly popular on the school grounds!)


Q: BCAITC has over 500 free downloadable resources including lesson plans, activities, videos, recipes, and more! What is your favourite BCAITC resource and why? A: BCAITC have amazing resources!  It is hard to pick a favourite. There are fantastic resources for all age groups, for longer or short units, and 1-lesson ideas that can tie into so many different curricular areas. Every year I have utilized various resources like We all share the same soil, or Spotlight series to teach about fruit and vegetable production or poultry farming, or used BCAITC recipes.

Q: What is your favourite BCAITC program and why? A: I have been participating in the Spuds in Tubs and Planting a Promise programs for years, as well as doing the Fresh to You Fundraiser. My students and I love all of them! 

For Planting a Promise, we plant the daffodils in big tubs in our courtyard, and they are so beautiful when they bloom.  We observe, measure and graph the growth, so it is a great math tie-in. Of course, growing potatoes is fun with Spuds in Tubs, especially the eating part at the end. I love how we can complete the cycle, from planting to harvest, before the school year is over. Every year, a couple of students tell me they don’t like potatoes, but they will try just a little bit because they grew them—and then they come back asking for more!   

We do the Fresh to You Fundraiser to help pay for our intermediate students to have a fun day of outdoor adventures at Camp Imadene every June.  The families like it because it is good quality, healthy, local produce and we like it because it is easy to run and is a profitable fundraiser.  We always offer the opportunity for families to purchase bundles to donate to local families in need as well as for themselves, and sometimes there is extra produce.  Some of it goes to families in the school facing food insecurity, and often we have enough to share with the wider community through Nourish Cowichan or the Healthiest Babies Possible program.  We also love the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional and Milk program, of course, which helps to feed the students and to encourage them to try foods they might not have exposure to at home.


Q: What is an agriculture or food-based project you have recently implemented in your classroom? A: My classroom is currently participating in Spuds in Tubs. After planting them and starting them indoors, they are thriving in our school courtyard now. These days students enjoy going outside to make their detailed, scientific observations of the spuds, and taking turns to water them as it is warmer and drier outside. I found that for some students who have difficulty writing with detail in other subject areas, making the observations of the plants helps them to focus, and to really look closely at something to find details about the size, shape and placement of the leaves, how the colours have changed, the texture on the leaves and stems, the direction the plants are growing, insects who might have made them their homes, and so on. They are often really proud of what they can write!  An additional benefit is many families decide to grow potatoes themselves at their homes once we do it in classroom, or to seek out the new potatoes in the store and sometimes they tell me their mom or dad wants our classroom’s potato recipe because the student said it was so delicious!—we just boil them, then add real butter and ground sea salt to it.

Q: Do you have any advice for other educators on how to integrate agriculture and food education into their curriculum? A: I highly recommend any of the BCAITC programs to any other educators. BCAITC makes them so easy, accessible and efficient to use, and if I have ever had any questions, someone is always available to answer them.  If you are not sure if one of the bigger programs will work, ask questions and see if there is someone at a school near to you doing that program who can help. If you are still unsure, pick something small from their online resources and give it a try! Visit BCAITC’s website as there is such a wide variety of resources and programs available, along with multiple ways to utilize them to educate about food and agriculture in science, socials, reading, math, writing, ADST, careers etc.


About the Teacher Champion Series: This monthly BCAITC series features BC teachers and school staff who are passionate about providing agriculture and food education to K-12 students. For more information, contact BCAITC Communications Coordinator, communications@aitc.ca.


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