Sustainable Jersey for Schools recently announced the 34 New Jersey public schools and districts selected to receive Sustainable Jersey grants funded by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Fourteen $10,000 grants and twenty $2,000 grants were distributed to support various projects, including outdoor classrooms, aquaponics food production, water bottle refilling stations, anti-bias training, school wellness programs, waste reduction, student green team capacity building and more. Christine Girtain, a teacher at Toms River High School South and Nourish the Future participant, received one of the $10,000 grants.
"The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is proud to partner with teachers like Christine Girtain through our Nourish the Future program,” said Director of Research and Productivity at NCGA, Robyn Allscheid. “We know that her enthusiasm and passion for research and teaching will help inspire other teachers to think about how they can incorporate real plant science research in their classrooms to help students understand the importance of agriculture.”
The project submitted by Girtain for a grant is Investigating Food Crop Sustainability with Corn Genotype to Phenotype Teacher workshop. Partnering with Nourish the Future, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the National Corn Growers Association, this project aims to inspire a network of New Jersey area educators to foster critical thinking, connect students to modern STEM agriculture careers, and run a genotype to phenotype turn-key teacher workshop that can help meet Next- Generation Science Standards using a sustainable agriculture theme. Over 20 teachers will receive in-service training and return to run the curriculum with their classes, thus reaching approximately 1,500-2,000 students.
“The Education Research and Outreach Lab at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri, is pleased to collaborate with Christine Girtain, an educator from the Toms River High Schools in New Jersey,” said Ph.D., Education Researcher & Program Manager, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Sandra Arango-Caro. “This collaboration will support professional development for teachers in the region, to implement authentic research experiences in the classrooms that focus on plant and agriculture science to promote STEM interest and careers among students.”
Nourish the future is a program made possible by farmer‑funded state corn checkoff programs across the U.S. and provides teaching resources that have become even more important as teachers tackle online education. The mission is to teach the ag-based curriculum in the science classroom, inspire students to solve real-world science issues, and inspiring students to fill the job gap in agriculture-related careers, many of which go unfilled.