Good Food Life: Pat Henne
What is your role at Springport High School?
PH: Agriscience teacher for grades 9-12.
How does your job as an agriscience teacher work towards the goals of the Good Food Charter?
PH: I am not unique in what I do as an agriscience teacher, everybody who does what I do has the mission of teaching students about food. We teach about its production, its consumption – the whole system. The vast majority of my students are not going to be farmers, but all of them will be consumers, and so the more educated they are, the better they will do in making good choices all the way around.
What do you find most exciting or inspiring about what you’re doing?
PH: Most kids don’t know anything about food production or food in general. One really cool thing we do is that we are one of 100 schools in the state that raise broiler chickens. We raise the chicks for 6 weeks, then we slaughter them. The kids are involved in the entire process. We process them as a part of class, then we cook them and debone them and turn them into casseroles (the students are involved in sourcing vegetables and rice and other ingredients for the final dishes), then we donate the meals to a food pantry. The cool thing about that is, at first, the kids have no idea what is involved in producing something as simple as chicken. Afterward, all of them are much more appreciative of the process of what goes into our food, and I find that really rewarding.
What opportunities do you see for moving towards the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter and where do you see those leading in the next five to ten years?
PH: We try to make kids aware of all of the careers out there that are associated with food production. Helping people discover that they are passionate about food and that there are opportunities for good careers and lifestyles that are associated with the ag industry is not only exciting, it can help us move toward the goals of the Charter in the future.
What is one thing you’ve learned through your experience with working towards the goals of the Good Food Charter that you’d like to share with others?
PH: I think that some older people tend to assume that kids don’t want to work hard and they are only interested in sitting in front of a screen, but in my experience, I have found that kids love to get dirty. They love to be involved in the food industry, and oftentimes they are used to instant gratification because that is the world they live in, but the cool thing about growing something is the process of waiting. It won’t happen immediately, it’s going to take a while – and that is something they learn through ag education.