At CNS, we believe the key to success in education is the collaboration between teachers, parents, administrators and the local community. Below are some examples of how people with various roles within the school environment have contributed to the development of nutrition education resources.
High school students helped plant green beans in a CNS educational garden. These were just two of many high school students that participated in the UC Davis Academic Preparation Program where they attended academic enrichment courses in addition to receiving exposure to research at UC Davis. CNS researchers had the opportunity to talk with the high school students about research in nutrition education, and then conducted a nutrition lesson in the garden to introduce them to the types of nutrition education programs that CNS develops. The students learned about nutrients, planted seeds, harvested vegetables, and prepared the soil for future planting.
Members of Team Davis in Davis, CA are currently participating in a pilot study which seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of Nutrition to Grow On for improving food choices and nutrition knowledge among children and adults with developmental, cognitive and/or physical disabilities. Participants are excited about growing their own vegetables and learning about nutrition. One parent shared with us that the nutrition lessons are already having an impact on her son’s food choices at home. Check back with us for the results of this study!
Nutrition education research conducted by several CNS researchers gained attention at the Experimental Biology 2010 Conference. Dr. Eric L. Hazzard, a CNS researcher shown at left, and colleagues presented the results from an evaluation of California Instructional School Garden Program grants. Other presentations included: "Teachers Perceive California Nutrition Education Competencies, Pre-Kindergarten through Grade Twelve as a useful framework for classroom instruction" by Dr. Marilyn Briggs and colleagues; "An evaluation and implementation of nutrition competencies and a competency-based resource guide in preschool-aged children" by Dr. Rachel Scherr and colleagues; and "Garden-enhanced nutrition education improves nutrition knowledge and behavior in second-grade students" by Anna Jones and colleagues.
In January 2005, stakeholders met in Davis, California, to evaluate a draft of the California Nutrition Education Competencies before it was finalized. A small group reviewed and discussed the third competency, on food choices. Including people with a variety of backgrounds throughout the education community allowed for successful development of this resource.
Teachers from all over California were surveyed to assess the final version of the California Nutrition Education Competencies. They provided input regarding its perceived value to them, to the children, and its age-appropriateness for particular grade levels. They also provided feedback on using the competencies to integrate nutrition education with California content standards in English-language arts, science, mathematics, history-social science, health, and physical education.
In collaboration with the UC Davis Center for Nutrition in Schools, the California Department of Education finalized the Nutrition Education Competencies for educating school-age children about healthy eating and nutrition. At John Muir Elementary School in Berkeley, 2nd graders stir freshly harvested fall vegetables in a supervised classroom activity. This lesson incorporates several of the new competency skill levels, including ”practice making healthy eating choices with friends and family,” and “practice selecting a food that is grown locally.”
Students spend time in the garden at Birch Lane School in Davis, CA with their garden assistant, Bill Davisson. This school participated in research which included the development, implementation, and evaluation of Nutrition to Grow On. Results from this study showed that this garden-based nutrition education curriculum is effective in improves children's knowledge of nutrition concepts and positively influences preferences for vegetables. This was possible due to the collaboration between Dr. Zidenberg-Cherr at CNS; Jennifer Morris (previous doctoral student); Mary Shaw, Solano County Master Gardener; and the California Department of Education.