Family and consumer sciences or FCS is the comprehensive body of skills, research, and knowledge that helps people make informed decisions about their well-being, relationships, and resources to achieve optimal quality of life. The field represents many content areas and career pathways, including nutrition and food science. Jennifer Wood from Buford High School (Buford, GA) is providing content and career opportunities with her approach to teaching a Nutrition and Food Science pathway. Jennifer’s program covers diverse aspects of nutrition and food science. The students start with a strong foundation in nutrition content and skill building in food preparation. Through this course students have a solid base to build on as they pursue the pathway. As the students approach the next stage of the pathway, they spend time exploring Foods for Life. This creates knowledge about nutrition through the lifespan preparing students for careers in nutrition and food science related to all aspects of the industry. Finally, students apply the knowledge through the capstone Food Science course.
Jennifer helps her students approach food science and nutrition by incorporating skills relevant to today’s world. One of her signature projects is the use of blogging as a way to enhance learning and build writing skills. Students share their experiences from her classroom in featured blogs. Jennifer also engages her students through community-based service learning related to nutrition and food science.
Jennifer says, “My students help cook the food we serve at the soup kitchen; they help by decorating bags for Sacks for Kids (lunches that are given out by a local church); and assist with a Thanksgiving lunch for the other teachers in their school.” Through these projects, students are applying their nutritional expertise to create healthy nutrient rich meals for those being impacted. Through these planned activities, students are synthesizing the skills they have learned and positively impacting their school and community as well.
The students in Jennifer’s class not only engage in classroom learning about nutrition and food science; they also learn valuable leadership skills. Jennifer has an active Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter that she advises. Jennifer makes FCCLA a must for the students by making learning and leadership fun. The students complete community service projects, prepare competitive events to demonstrate skills they've learned in their courses and go out into the community to gain valuable experience. Jennifer says, “Having a fun and dynamic plan for the year gets students excited.” That excitement shows through her chapter’s success. Jennifer’s chapter has received numerous awards including: 2016-17 Honor Roll Chapter, 2017-18 Honor Roll Chapter, Largest Chapter in Region 2 Membership Award 2017-18, and Families First State Program Award Winner 2017-18.
Jennifer’s work with Nutrition and Food Science along with FCCLA has a lasting impact on students. One example is Leah Price, who was a new student at Buford High School her sophomore year. The school is small and it could be hard for new students to acclimate to and fit in. Leah was lucky to have Jennifer Wood’s program available. She joined FCCLA, became an officer for all three years, participated in everything, and became the club president. She is currently putting her nutrition education to work by attending college and studying to be a dietitian. Leah was instrumental in growing the FCCLA chapter. At the end of the year banquet her senior year, she spoke about how FCCLA had helped her feel a part of Buford High School.
Jennifer Wood of Buford high school is living up to the definition of Family and Consumer Sciences by creating a robust pathway that incorporates employability skills, applied learning, service learning, leadership training and so much more. Her example truly defines Family and Consumer Sciences.