Hayden Earns Agriculture Literacy Award

Hayden Earns Agriculture Literacy Award

Owensboro Innovation Middle School teacher, Kendel Hayden was recently awarded the 2021 Kentucky Farm Bureau Excellence Ag Literacy Award. The award recognizes teachers who excel in their efforts to incorporate agricultural concepts throughout their core academic studies.

“I know many other educators across the state are also incorporating the importance of agriculture in their classrooms, so it is nice to be recognized for my efforts in my own classroom,” Hayden said. “It’s really something I would not have been able to do to the extent I have without the support of my administration and our school cafeteria, as well as the grant I received from Owensboro Education Foundation to help establish our garden.”

Hayden teaches social studies, covering the history of man from approximately 3500 B.C. to 600 A.D. She said she incorporated ag concepts “a bit early” as she teaches the core curriculum. 

“Students learn how the discovery of farming was likely accidental, but changed the course of human history,” she said. “We discuss early farming techniques and the domestication of animals.”

In the spring, students will plant 55 raised beds with numerous vegetables ranging from tomatoes and green beans, to zucchini and pumpkins. 

“Students will map out where they plant their crops so that next year’s students will have a guide to allow for crop rotation,” Hayden said. “They learn about the needs of plants, fertilizer needs, weeding practices, harvesting, watering techniques, etc. We harvest our crops, and our amazing cafeteria incorporates the harvest in our lunches. In class we draw connections between old and new.” 

For example, when studying Mesopotamia, students learn how early farmers used irrigation to grow successful crops. The class connects that to modern irrigation systems, with Hayden showing students examples of the advanced technology used to allow farmers to turn on their irrigators in their fields from the comfort of their homes as needed.

“Essentially, I try to make it clear that nearly any career students are interested in can also be found in the agriculture sector,” Hayden said. “This included everything from chemists to sales positions to bankers and commodity traders. I think it is so important for students, even in 6th grade, to be aware of their options.”

She said Kentucky is a state whose economy depends on agriculture and provides many jobs related to agriculture. 

“I want those doors to the future open to my students despite having grown up in the city and in a city school system,” Hayden said. “If they have a bit of exposure to agriculture now, maybe they will pursue those jobs in the future.”

Hayden said she became a teacher because she enjoyed helping people and enjoyed working with young people.

“I’m able to teach history and relate it to real life by teaching the content through projects,” Hayden said. “Every time I see students have those moments of clarity and understanding I know I am in the right place. One of my favorite things is seeing students develop their own thoughts and ideas on things we are studying. The best part is when they are able to explain and articulate their thoughts through discussions and projects. Even after 17 years of teaching I’m still excited by the growth and ability I see in my students and can’t wait to see what their future holds.”


This article ran in the Owensboro Times 12/18/21.

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