Karen Garland

Karen Garland, a K-5 science teacher at Clark Creek Elementary STEM Academy in Canton, was selected as a 2021 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award winner. 

The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO), U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA), and Farm Credit partner each year to honor teachers in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade from around the country for the innovative ways they use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, STEM, STEAM, and more.

Eight teachers from across the country, including Garland, were awarded this honor. 

"Many people think that agriculture teaches hard work and perseverance, and it does," said Dr. Carrie Castille, director of USDA-NIFA, which provides federal leadership and annual funding for NAITC. "But these outstanding teachers recognize that agriculture also is fertile ground for teaching botany, biology, chemistry, finance, climatology, and arts, in ways that any age or level of students can understand, appreciate and apply to their daily life. When a student makes that real-life connection to the lessons their teachers share, students continue to learn and absorb the true meaning of those lessons when they leave the classroom. Innovative teachers like these are often responsible for awakening a student's love of learning, nature and science."

Garland uses a school garden to teach kindergarteners about the five senses, first graders about the water cycle, second graders about plant and animal life cycles, third graders about habitat conservation and soil health, fourth graders about the weather and ecosystems and fifth graders about erosion and other destructive forces in the garden and classification systems.

"Teachers are key partners in agricultural literacy education, helping to shape the next generation of agriculture advocates through intentional and engaging activities," said president and CEO of the Farm Credit Council Todd Van Hoose. "Farm Credit is proud to honor these innovative educators and support their ongoing commitment to growing future leaders."

Garland was also featured in GPB's video lesson series, Let's Learn GA! See her teaching in action as she helps first grade students learn about all plants.