Every year, states across the country organize events to celebrate agricultural literacy, either through Agriculture in the Classroom programs or a dedicatedAg Literacy Week. This year, the week-long celebration took place from March 13 – 17 in Pennsylvania, for example, and March 20 – 24 in New York.
The week-long events are often tied to specific books with agricultural themes. Volunteers go into classrooms to read the book to elementary students and farmers, FFA and 4-H members engage these youth with a hand-on activity to extend what they learn from the book.
But engaging young students just one week of the year in this important sector of their education isn’t enough. That’s why American Farm Bureau is encouraging you to become an Ag Literacy Champion.
Offering tips on where to seek information and funding at the recent Farm Bureau Fusion event were Chris Young, project coordinator with AFB, and Patti Fisher, the District 7 representative on the New York Farm Bureau State Promotion & Education Committee.
The first resource they mentioned was Feeding Minds Press, which publishes accurate and engaging books about agriculture that connect readers to where their food comes from and to who grows it. Current titles cover topics like corn and soybeans, potatoes, strawberries, dairy farms and more.
Programs beside Ag in the Classroom are out there to support the mission as well. On the Farm STEM brings together teams of educators with experts in science education and ag science to envision a model for science learning that equips teachers with free lessons, activities, online learning tools and enriching professional development events. Webinars and immersive in-person experiences are available.
The White-Reinhardt Fund for Education is a special project of the American Farm Bureau Foundation in cooperation with the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee established to honor two former chairs of that committee, Berta White and Linda Reinhardt, who were leaders in the national effort to improve ag literacy. This fund allows county Farm Bureaus to apply for $1,000 grants for education programs for grades K-12 in order to initiate new ag literacy programs or expand existing programs. Organizations or schools may work with their local Farm Bureau to apply. Spring 2023 applications are closed, but watch the website (at agfoundation.org/projects/wr-grants-home) for upcoming opportunities.
Young and Fisher also mentioned the Christy Sue Lilja Resource Grants. These provide 50 educators with $100 each to purchase ag literacy resources from the Farm Bureau Foundation store for their classrooms. Lilja was the former executive director of the foundation.
With a May 1 deadline for applications is the Purple Plow Challenge, which aims to engage students in creating solutions for real world, complex issues related to agriculture. The spring 2023 project is the Pollinator Challenge.
Other notable resources for those wishing to become Ag Literacy Champions are My American Farm, with agricultural games and education resources. Agriculture in the Classroom programs also offer hard copies of their Ag Mags, each focused on specific sector of agriculture. The best part about these is they can be recycled to inform adult learners once the students are done with them.
by Courtney Llewellyn
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