Environmental Biology Graduate Student Earns Excellence in Teaching Award
"Hood taught me how to take risks as a teacher. How to try new things to reach my students. How to develop a lesson that looks at the whole child and not just a data point."
Karl Kidd, M.S. Environmental Biology
- Environmental Biology (M.S.)
Hood College Environmental Biology graduate student, Karl Kidd, earns 2019 Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture award through the MD Agricultural Education Foundation (MAEF).
Please provide a brief bio including your educational and career background.
I grew up in Baltimore, MD and attended Frostburg State University where I graduated with a B.S. in Biology in 2006. After college, I started teaching at The Barnesville School in Montgomery County, MD.
I decided to go back to school and graduated with a M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from Hood College in 2010. In 2013 I was named Frederick County Teacher of the Year. In 2019, I returned to Hood College to pursue a M.S. in Environmental Biology. This past November 2019, I was awarded the Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture award through the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation (MAEF).
Congratulations! please share how you were nominated for this MAEF award.
I was nominated for this award by the staff at MAEF. They chose me as the inaugural recipient of the award based on the work I have done for Agricultural Education in Frederick County and Maryland.
In 2008, my wife and I attended an Ag in the Classroom workshop. From there, I began infusing agriculture into my lessons. It grew into a school-wide program where I was teaching ag lessons to students in grades pre-K through 5th with a focus on agriculture and the environment.
One fall, I decided to do a school-wide Pumpkin Chunkin Challenge that turned into an Ag Day. We brought in local farmers, bee keepers, and Farm Bureau members to run stations and activities with the students. This turned into a yearly tradition involving MAEF, the Master Gardeners, and other community members. In 2014, I co-authored the book, Amazing Maryland Agriculture, which has been placed in every elementary school library in the state.
Where does your passion about agriculture come from?
My love of agriculture started from a young age. My parents and grandparents were gardeners and taught me how to grow my own food. My grandfather in particular had a large vegetable garden and composted way before that was the thing to do. We spent a lot of time out in his yard watching the plants grow and harvesting from his garden.
My mother and grandmothers canned a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, and my father showed me the Chesapeake Bay and how important it was to care for the water. Those things really stuck with me.
From there, the workshop that I attended sparked a real interested in how to use agriculture to teach students not only where their food comes from, but the importance of knowing that everything starts with agriculture, and the impact that has on our lives and the environment.
Could you please share about your favorite teaching experience related to agriculture?
One of my favorite teaching experiences was a few years ago when I started doing Bobbing for Apples in class. We talked about how unhealthy the traditional way was, and came up with "Apple Bobbers" which were STEM machines that students built out of popsicle sticks, tape, pipe cleaners, string, and straws to get the apples out of the bucket.
They were awesome inventions--some worked really well and some failed. But the student engagement and desire to learn was amazing. They built, and tested them during our fall party. The next day they came in wanting to incorporate new ideas and make something even better.
How did your education at Hood College help you become a better teacher?
Hood College taught me how to take risks as a teacher. How to try new things to reach my students. How to develop a lesson that looks at the whole child and not just a data point.
My work at Hood College taught me to really see each student for what they could bring to the table, and to think outside of the box when developing a lesson or activity to make it not only engaging, but meaningful as well.
The professors at Hood College delivered a program that allowed me to try new things with my students and bring that back to the classroom. The variety of classes and topics allowed me to grow as an educator and put into place tools and strategies that increased my connection with the students and the community outside of the classroom.