St. Francis teacher earns agricultural grant for classroom

Carrie Allord teaches kindergarten at St. Francis of the Lakes Catholic School and likes to expose her students to agriculture.

Kids holding eggs and a chicken.
Carrie Allord's kindergarten class, Oliver Nelson, left, Marie Schmitt, Ali Caughey, Lucy Lundy, Max Ronnevik, Reed Stangler and Chenandoah Cox counts the eggs they have gathered from their classroom chicken, Midnight, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at St. Francis of the Lakes Catholic School.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Carrie Allord has eight students and one bird in her kindergarten class this year.

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Midnight the silkie chicken has a cage in the corner of the St. Francis classroom but can often be found wandering about the room, visiting with the children. She assists Allord in teaching the students about agriculture and where their food comes from.

“She laid her first egg like three weeks ago now, so it was pretty exciting to see the kids’ faces when we found that first egg,” Allord said Monday, Jan. 30.

Thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation, Allord can now buy more materials to continue her agricultural learning.


Each year the foundation, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, awards Agricultural Literacy grants designed to support agriculture and food systems education efforts from kindergarten to high school across the state. Allord was one of 17 teachers who received a $500 grant for her efforts. She plans to use the funds for agricultural literacy books and other supplies and lessons available from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The money will also help fund trips to Cornerstone Dairy Farm and Rustic Acres Greenhouse in Fort Ripley later in the year.

“I grew up with agriculture,” Allord said, noting she is a third generation farmer herself and wanted to pass on the importance of agriculture to her students.

When Midnight lays enough eggs, the students get to enjoy breakfast, experiencing firsthand the fruits of their labor in caring for the hen, who lives in the classroom even on the weekends and is trained not to go on the classroom carpet.

They also get to incubate their own eggs and see chicks hatch. Those chicks will later go on to live at Allord’s farm.

“I try to get a variety of hatching eggs because eggs can come in a multitude of colors, and that’s something that was new to the kids and even parents,” she said. “It’s fun to be able to have the funds to find those unique things and then highlight them in our classroom.”

Chickens aren’t the only farm animal the students get to learn about, though. This year, the class adopted a cow from the Miron Farm in Hugo and the kids get to learn about her as she grows up. Bella the cow was born in September, and since then, students have tracked her weight and height, what she eats and what her purpose is on a dairy farm.


A chicken.
Midnight enjoysanother day of learning in Carrie Allord's kindergarten class Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at St. Francis of the Lakes Catholic School.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

Because of her farming background, Allord believes it’s important for her students to learn about where their food comes from and the work that goes into it.

“And because so many families are not living on farms, they truly do think that milk comes out of that grocery store door,” she said. “... It’s just important that they know, and then as they become leaders — maybe they become legislators or whatever — they know to protect the farms and where food comes from and the importance of all that.”

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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