Karl Kidd, a fifth-grade advanced academics teacher at Urbana at Sugarloaf Elementary, received the Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award from The Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, Inc. in early January. The award recognizes a classroom teacher who demonstrates excellence in agricultural education.
Kidd began building his expertise in 2009 when he attended a workshop hosted by the Ag Ed Foundation called “Ag in the Classroom.” Since then, he has combined lessons from the program with those of his own creation to teach his students how agriculture affects them and their community.
“Students don’t always realize how much agriculture is part of their lives,” Kidd said. He encourages students to relate to agriculture through the things that they eat. “Food doesn’t come from a grocery store—it comes from a farm somewhere,” he tells them. He also highlights items you would not normally associate with agriculture, like how soybeans are found in crayons and CD coatings come from pigs.
“(Farmers) are more than just blue jeans and a straw hat,” Kidd said. “They are meteorologists, geologists, environmentalists … (they) are such a critical part of us being able to survive.”
He wants his students to have an appreciation for farmers, along with others who work in the STEM fields. “There are so many jobs out there that revolve around agriculture, so getting students to understand and see that there are so many things they could study to help make agriculture better (is important).”
Each year, Kidd leads school “Ag Days” that invite all students from grades pre-k to fifth to take part in hands-on learning through grade-level appropriate activities. Through the Frederick Farm Bureau, community members contribute to the students’ learning by bringing in goats, chickens and sheep. Some community members provide additional experiential learning like beekeeping and wool spinning.
Kidd also helps with the Mobile Science Lab presented by the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation and coordinated by fourth-grade teacher Faith Humerick. The lab comes every year for a little over a week and teaches kids unique and informational lessons about agriculture. Last year, Kidd hosted the “One Million and Counting” celebration, commemorating the Mobile Science Lab’s role in educating one million Maryland children so far.
Urbana Elementary Principal Tess Blumenthal complimented Kidd on his achievement. “Mr. Kidd is very deserving of this recognition,” she said. “His passion for this topic is continually demonstrated through his integration of agriculture and environmental topics into curriculum.”
Along with the award, Kidd received a $500 stipend to put toward his classroom, as well as a trip to the National Ag in the Classroom Conference that will be held in June in Salt Lake City, Utah.
– Izzy Lowery