Agriculture Science teacher Ruth Chamelin was recently awarded a grant from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) Teaching the Food System Grants for Educators program.
Chamelin was one of 10 area teachers who received a grant to become an early adopter of CLF’s new Teaching the Food System curriculum. According to a Johns Hopkins news release, Chamelin will use the grant to construct a goat shed with her animal care/vet science class during the upcoming school year.
"There is not a lot of sustainable agriculture in the current ag curriculum, but sustainable ag is an exciting alternative to some of the traditional ag practices," Chamelin told Patch.
Chamelin said she was a dairy farmer for 20-some years before making the decision to take a teaching position at Westminster High School in 2004.
"My husband and I milked 60 cows and did intensive grazing, which is considered sustainable ag," Chamelin said. "We really enjoyed it."
The grant will help Chamelin bring animals into the classroom, a necessity she said, for teaching animal science.
"I have always felt that to teach animal science, you need to have the students work with animals. The students really love being able to get that hands-on experience," Chamelin said. "This hutch will allow me to have small livestock for short periods of time for the students to work with."
Her enthusiasm for her job is evident. Chamelin said she loves being able to share her extensive hands-on experience with students to help them learn and understand the world in which they live.
"I love bringing agriculture to my students. Even though we live in a fairly rural county, most of the students do not have a clue where their food comes from," Chamelin said. "I love being able to share my resources with them and give them some hands-on opportunities to learn about their food sources. I am excited to have another tool to use to expand my program."
Teaching young people about sustainable living is important to Chamelin and she said she loves her job. But, she said understanding sustainable agriculture and growing our food locally is important for the whole community to embrace.
"I believe that we have to be informed about where our food comes from and we must make informed decisions about what we choose to eat," Chamelin said. "I feel that we have become too reliant on the government to make the choices for us that we should be making for ourselves. I believe that every person should know how to plant a small garden to raise a few vegetables if they need to and they should know what is involved in keeping a few hens for eggs or raising an animal for meat."
"I believe if the consumer understands what is involved in the production of food, there would be more respect for the ag community in the area. I love having the opportunity to do that at Westminster High School," Chamelin said.