Panhandle teacher grows agricultural literacy

By Jennifer Dorsett

A Moore County teacher who has won multiple awards for her dedication to agricultural literacy and education has done it again.

Lori Garrett, the recipient of the 2017 Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Ag in the Classroom Outstanding Teacher award, was recently presented with a White-Reinhardt Mini-Grant from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.

“I’m thrilled,” Garrett said recently in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network. “[This grant] gives me the opportunity to pass information on to kids who might not ever see or might not make a connection with agriculture unless we have a hands-on opportunity.”

Garrett, who teaches pre-kindergarten through fourth grade at Cactus Elementary School in Dumas, has been an active participant in many of TFB’s educator opportunities, including TFB’s Ag in the Classroom, Summer Ag Institute and Learning from the Ground Up garden grant programs.

“Lori is an outstanding advocate for agricultural literacy, and she goes above and beyond to teach her students about agriculture and how it relates to their daily lives,” Jordan Walker, TFB director of Educational Outreach, said. “Lori’s dedication to her students, science and agricultural literacy are evident in every conversation I’ve ever had with her. It’s an honor for a Texas teacher to receive this grant, because it supports the efforts of our teachers to continue telling agriculture’s story in the classroom.”

This is the second year Garrett has received a White-Reinhardt Mini-Grant.

She plans to use funds from the grant to expand the school garden program that she has supervised for the past five years.

Garrett and her students have incorporated produce grown in the garden into food packages delivered through a community outreach program. The recipients are enthusiastic about receiving fresh produce instead of solely canned and packaged goods, according to Garrett.

In addition to the grant funds, a new partnership between the school and Cactus Nazarene Church will provide greater reach and additional resources.

“We’re going to install mini aquaponics systems in our lab to grow herbs,” she said. “We plan to buy some automatic watering systems for our outdoor raised beds because, being in the Texas Panhandle, one of the biggest things that we deal with is lack of moisture. So, the kids are helping me measure and calculate what we need to put those systems in, and they’ll be helping to install those and also utilizing our greenhouse more.”

And as agricultural literacy continues to grow in the classrooms of Dumas ISD, so do Garrett’s plans.

“The horizons keep expanding, and I keep finding more and more opportunities to implement agriculture in our school,” she said. “It’s been fun for me. It’s great for the kids and hopefully fun for them, too.”