Environmental Science at Mahwah High School, New Jersey
Educator: Denise Kuehner
School: Mahwah High School, Mahwah, NJ
Number of students: 48
How are you teaching about food, health, and sustainability?
I teach Environmental Science to twelfth graders, as a Science elective at a suburban public high school. We do a unit on Food & Agriculture, in which the students learn about where their food comes from, and the differences between different types of foods such as conventional, organic, and local.
How are you using the Nourish resources?
The Nourish resources are perfect because they fit right in with my curriculum and give me great activities to use.
What activities, projects, or inquiry questions have students engaged in?
The students watched the Nourish DVD, and we discussed it. The students completed the Nourish Notes worksheets that reinforced the ideas of “Connections” and “Seed to Table” from the film. They made charts that summarized the differences between local, organic, and conventional food. We did Activity 1, “The Story of Food.” The students were very interested in the topic and the activity. It was great for them to be able to learn about something so relevant to their lives.
What effect has Nourish had on your students’ understanding of food system issues?
It helps them get why it is important to understand how our food gets to our plates. They now think twice before eating something. Some have changed their eating habits, such as giving up meat.
What conversations have resulted from using Nourish? What are some next steps?
I enjoyed discussing with my students their reactions to the curriculum. One student is planning on taking over his family’s produce business one day, and he said he’s glad he now knows a lot more about where food comes from, and he’ll be careful to make choices that are better for the environment. Many say they now appreciate certain things more, like the importance of farmer’s markets. They often said things like, “Wow, I never thought about that before” or “When I went out to eat yesterday, I thought about what we learned in class about where the food comes from.” They started to ask questions about things they were about to eat, such as “Is that organic?” They definitely have more awareness now about the impact of their food choices. I plan to continue using Nourish with my classes in the future.