Grandview teacher integrated agriculture into physical education, school
October 31, 2017
Standing in the student garden, Andy Klatt points out one of sour cherry trees in the garden.
They're used to make kirschenmichel, a pudding-type dessert to highlight Windsor's Russian-German heritage.
Klatt is a physical education teacher at Grandview Elementary, and has integrated agriculture into the schools curriculum, with the garden as one of the tools.
The students at Grandview help with planting, harvesting and eating the food, as well. It's a way for the kids to see where their food comes from.
“It’s interesting how many parents aren’t able to give their kids that opportunity.They don’t eat it at home, but at school they do.” Andy KlattPhysical Education teacher at Grandview Elementary
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"It's interesting how many parents aren't able to give their kids that opportunity," he said. "They don't eat it at home, but at school they do."
Klatt said there was one student who said she's never tried a pickle, but she knew she didn't like them. He convinced her to try one, and now she has no hesitation eating them.
Since Klatt took over the student garden six years ago, the interest grew from about a dozen kids to more than 120 in the garden club. It's just a part of how he teaches the kids about agriculture and how it plays into nutrition.
Last year he was recognized for his efforts at Grandview — the school also is part of Western Dairy Association's Adopt a Farmer program and Fuel Up to Play 60. He was given the Colorado Ag in the Classroom Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award Program last year from the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture.
Klatt doesn't like taking credit for his work. But he's teaching agriculture to Windsor, a place with roots in farming but also a place seen as more of a small city than a farm town, with kids who likely don't know much about food beyond that it's sold in grocery stores or at McDonald's.
Yet Klatt can relate to those kids. He didn't grow up on a farm. He grew up in Breckenridge, a town known for skiing. How did he fall in love with the farm life? That's a story in itself.
FROM SKIS TO GREENS
Klatt's interest in agriculture education wasn't instilled by birth.
He worked with horses, helping out around a ranch while growing up in Breckenridge, but that was the extent of his work until he took a class about six years ago through the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture. But it wasn't the ag aspect that interested him when he looked into the class for a continuing credit for his teaching license. He had other motivations.
"Free credits," he said with a laugh.
But one course wasn't enough.
"Once you take it, you're hooked," he said.
Klatt said he's taken the class about six times since it's always different. In his first class, the focus was Morgan County and the livestock industry there, and the following year it was in Weld County with the focus on crops and water.
One of the lessons he learned during courses focused on steak. The class learned the difference between corn and grass fed cattle and how that affects the marbling of steak.
The lesson concluded with a steak cook off, so it brought everything full circle.
"I thought, 'What a cool concept,' because everything I do with P.E., we know if I eat pancakes for breakfast you get wound up, but by 9 o'clock, you're coming down and I feel like I haven't eaten breakfast."
Klatt said he was as enthused as "a Boy Scout coming home from camp" when he started to take the classes. He saw how integrated agriculture could be in what he did as a physical education teacher — particularly in nutrition — and that started his interest in applying agriculture to students' lessons.
APPLICATION TO STUDENTS
Klatt said he's seen how simple things he teaches his students will relate to them later in life.
It's about laying down the foundation.
He said when his students do their mile-run course, once they're done, they'll go to the garden and pick cherry tomatoes or strawberries or whatever produce they have ready. There's a hose there to wash them off, and the kids will eat foods, even if they won't normally at home.
There are still missteps. Many of the kids still hate broccoli, but Klatt told his students if it's boiled in vegetable juice, it changes the taste and will make it better.
One boy tried to tell his mom to boil his broccoli in Red Bull. Oops.
But misinterpretations aside, Klatt integrates agriculture into all parts of the students' education.
Part of what he was able to integrate through the Fuel Up to Play 60 grant was purchase GPS units for his class.
He uses them for a fitness unit, where the kids use the GPS to find wave points what are these. He's able to teach students that farmers can use similar GPS devices when working on crop fields.
Whether or not the kids remember every detail of the nutrition lessons he gives or how agriculture is pivotal to the process. That's not the most important thing to Klatt.
It's about the foundation.
"I tell the kids … 'If you're able to get the knowledge now, (nutrition) is one of those areas of study, no matter how old you get, it stays the same.' "
— Samantha Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. Contact her with questions, ideas or comments at (970) 392-4410 or email@example.com. Connect with her on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.