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Portage Teacher Receives Agriculture In The Classroom Award

A Portage-area teacher is the recipient of the 2020 Teacher Driver Award from Agriculture in the Classroom Manitoba.
 
Stewart Akerley received the award this year and says he's quite proud to have been recognized. Akerley, a fifth grade teacher at La Verendrye School, explains he's a part of an Agriculture in the Classroom program called Little Green Thumbs which provided teachers with gardens in the classrooms.
 
"I have basic planter boxes and a growing light and we grow tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, beans- things like that- in the classroom every year," explains Akerley, adding he also teaches his students about agriculture through activities such as the Made in Manitoba Breakfast Program and excursions to the Agriculture Fair in Brandon.
 
He says the big thing that motivates him to teach his students about agriculture and healthy living is how it changes their mindsets.
 
"They come into the classroom and I give them the responsibility of taking care of this garden. So they kind of mature in a way that having responsibility for a living thing can give to you," explains Akerley. "They plant the seeds, they water them, they take care of them as they're growing and then they get to harvest them. But the other thing is that they get to eat this food and try new things."
 
Akerley notes some of his students have never tried produce like tomatoes or beans before, noting a few years ago one of students told him about how she'd been inspired to try salad at a restaurant after having a salad party at school.
 
Akerley came in second place for this award back in 2017. This year, he was nominated for the award by local farmer Sandi Knight and Akerley notes the nomination came as a pleasant surprise.
 
The Teacher Driver Award is presented annually to a Manitoba teacher who promotes agriculture in the classroom.
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