Linda Baines is known around Polson School as “The Farm Lady.”
The grade two and three teacher says she’s enthusiastic about teaching her students the importance of agriculture and healthy eating, and her students feel the same.
“They come in everyday excited asking, “Can we see the garden today? Can I go water? What are we making/ cooking this week?’,” says Linda.
Linda has been a teacher for 33 years and was introduced to AITC-M’s programs 7 years ago when she joined the Little Green Thumbs, an indoor classroom gardening program. Linda also incubates and raises chicks and ducklings in her class each year.
Her students have had the opportunity to watch honey bees, learn about beeswax, dry and dye sheep wool, cook fresh meals, and learn about food dehydration, preservation and composting.
Her class has also partnered with a small farm over the years to have in-class and virtual visits with goats, alpacas, cattle, chickens and ducks. In addition, Linda helps run a school-wide breakfast program.
Linda says she wouldn’t be able to pull off her projects without the help of AITC-M, Rachel Galindo, a RETSD Community Connector, and the volunteers at Polson School.
"I couldn't do this without them," she says.
Linda grew up on a farm and has always been familiar with that lifestyle. Some of her students, however, do not know where their food comes from. Some students start the year not knowing what a farm is.
“One student asked me why there weren't any pink cows on the farm, the kind that made strawberry milk,” she says. "I laughed but really, where else would they think it came from without that exposure?This is a huge opportunity students wouldn't have otherwise."
Seven years ago, Rachel Galindo introduced Linda to AITC-M's programs and helped her start a Little Green Thumbs classroom garden. Linda says Rachel helps care for the chicks they hatch in the classroom.
"Someone's got to take [the chicks] home at the end of the day, and a lot of times they end up at Rachel's," Linda says.
Linda, Rachel, and parents of the students have put in countless volunteer hours for Polson School. They are dedicated to educating the students about agriculture.
Last summer, during the pandemic, families quickly filled volunteer spots to keep the outdoor garden alive.
"It's really important to a lot of people in this community," Linda says.
Kira Rowat, Program Manager at AITC-M, says she loves hearing about what Linda and Rachel are working on in the classroom. She says they're always bringing agriculture to life for their students by using AITC-M resources and adding a personal touch.
“Linda is always willing to try something new for her students to have a balanced and engaging agriculture education," says Kira.
With her indoor and outdoor gardening, regular cooking classes, and many ag-based projects, Kira says Linda is often one step ahead of her.
Linda says teaching her students to respect where their food comes from and how to be sustainable is the most important lesson in her classroom.
"Agriculture is the one thing I can connect to every subject, every day," she says.
Linda was the Teacher Driver Award Winner for AITC-M in 2018 and a TeachAg contest winner in November 2020.