flowersTanguay recognized as national teacher of the year
for growing a better world

Wednesday, March 22, 2006
By Staff

MARYSVILLE , OHIO (March 16): Steve Tanguay of Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast was named Scott's Classroom Gardener of the Year and is the national winner in the sixth annual Scotts Give Back to Grow Awards. Scott's Classroom Gardener of the Year is awarded to a teacher whose gardening efforts have helped grow a better world and have incorporated gardening into their curriculum.

Mr. Tanguay received $5,000 and an all expenses paid trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show from The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. , the world's largest marketer of branded products for consumer lawn and garden care, as part of its ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship.

"The winner of the Scotts Give Back to Grow Award has proven that they share our vision by fostering community growth, beautifying neighborhoods and benefiting the environment," said Jim Hagedorn, chairman of Scotts Miracle-Gro.

Tanguay was honored recently at a brunch ceremony at the Philadelphia Flower Show (the oldest Flower Show in the World and the largest in the U.S) in front of a crowd of 1,000 fellow teachers, gardeners and business leaders. An overview of the Garden Project and a short video of his work were featured.

The award salutes elementary through high school teachers who have integrated a school gardening program into their curriculum.

Scotts said Tanguay has brought economics, history and agriculture lessons to life with the creation of the Troy Howard Middle School Garden/Greenhouse Project.

Tanguay developed a curriculum that integrates middle school academic concepts with sustainable agricultural production practices in a garden, orchard and greenhouse setting. Students develop and run businesses while learning the economics of producing their own food.

They are first trained as apprentices and then graduate to "employee" status in one of three in-school enterprises, including a seed company, a farm stand and a compost company.

Specifically, students manage the garden and greenhouse, save heirloom seeds, produce natural fertilizers and provide foods that are distributed at the school cafeteria and farm stand, the Belfast Coop and local soup kitchens.

The goal is to engage all students in discovery through gardening projects that address learning objectives and produce nutritious food and research for sustainability.

"The project requires the students' participation through planting, harvesting, and seed-saving for future plantings," explains Tanguay. "Students are taught the quality and health benefits of locally produced food. They're taught about security in our food systems, as they learn the concepts of diversity. I want the kids exposed, on a regular basis, to successful small business owners and entrepreneurs -- with the opportunity to write letters, make phone calls, and send e-mails -- and to see how approachable a successful businessperson is."

During the past year, students have harvested and redistributed approximately 7,000 pounds of all-natural foods and flowers.

He credits his teaching team and Garden Project leaders Linda Hartkopf and Don White for much of his success as they have helped to create a dynamic laboratory for agricultural based learning.

Tanguay and his Garden Team have expanded the Garden/Greenhouse Project to include watershed and bird studies, a fruit orchard, a Maine History Garden, cut flowers, heirloom gardening, water flowers, pest management, tea gardens, hanging baskets and a Pizza Garden .

He was recently presented with a Farm Bureau White-Reinhardt Scholarship and the "Making the Grade Award" by Maine 's State Board of Education for a truly outstanding integrated teaching program that brings real-world experiences into the classroom. Tanguay and Don White were also named 2004 National Teachers of the Year for their excellence in teaching about agriculture by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The THMS Garden / Greenhouse project is largely funded through grants, volunteers and local business. The Project has even received a private, anonymous donation to pay for next year's greenhouse heating costs.

The Scotts Give Back to Grow Awards were judged by a panel of leaders in the field of horticulture. For more information, visit

Nomination forms for the seventh annual Give Back to Grow Awards will be available Monday, April 17. To read more about the THMS Garden Project head to

Troy Howard Middle School
173 Lincolnville Ave.
Belfast, Maine 04974

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