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Farm Bureau awards over $17,000 in ag literacy grants

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The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has announced a total of $17,550 in scholarships and grant awards to recognize exceptional agricultural literacy programs conducted by educators, volunteers and communities across the country who work to connect students with how their food is grown.

The foundation sponsors the scholarships and grants in cooperation with the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee through the White-Reinhardt Fund for Education.

The foundation awarded five teachers and classroom volunteers with $1,500 scholarships to attend the National Ag in the Classroom Conference, to be held in Des Moines, Iowa, June 28 to July 1, 2021. 

This year’s recipients are:

  • Lucas Shivers, Unified School District 383, Manhattan, Kansas
  • Abby Plummer, Edna Drinkwater School, Camden, Maine
  • Cindy Brison, all schools in Douglas and Sarpy counties, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Regina Peery, Riverside Elementary and Maury County Boys and Girls Club, Columbia, Tennessee
  • Natalie Fullmer, Sevier County School District/Sevier County Farm Bureau, Aurora, Utah

The conference helps educators from across the nation learn how to incorporate real-life agricultural applications into science, social studies, language arts, math and nutrition lessons. 

The foundation also awarded 10 communities with grants totaling $11,550, which will be allocated through county Farm Bureaus this spring and used to create new agricultural literacy projects or expand existing agricultural literacy efforts.

Criteria for selecting winners included: the effectiveness of demonstrating a strong connection between agriculture and education; how successfully the project enhances learner engagement in today’s food, fiber and fuel systems; and the processes and timelines for accomplishing project goals.

The 2021 spring grant recipients are:

Stephens County Farm Bureau, Georgia

Stephens County has developed their Grow Real Opportunities With Students (GROWS) program over the past two years and seeks to expand its focus and audience. With this additional funding, the GROWS program seeks to expand to include a mobile cooking cart including a breakfast station and pressure cooker, a drone, a hydroponic garden and two raised garden beds. This new technology will be used at three elementary schools. Volunteers plan to use this technology to provide an opportunity for interactive learning experiences and introduce technology in agriculture as a career set.

Clay County Farm Bureau, Iowa

Clay County Farm Bureau plans to partner with Sacred Heart Elementary School to create a Tower Garden. This Tower Garden will allow students to witness firsthand where their food comes from. Foods harvested from this garden will be used for classroom snacks and school lunches. 

Whiteside County Farm Bureau, Illinois

Whiteside County Farm Bureau plans to partner with local kindergarten-fifth grade classrooms to increase their library of agriculture-focused children’s books. These books will be a small piece of a multi-faceted approach to agricultural education. Additional components include virtual field trips to local farms, in-person and virtual hands-on science and social science activities, and literature-based reading and writing activities complementing each lesson.

Cass-Morgan County Farm Bureau, Illinois

Cass-Morgan Farm Bureau seeks to work with kindergarten-eighth grade students to build four chicken incubator kits. Each kit would contain 12 eggs and be accompanied by relevant and entertaining lessons and books related to chicken production. The goal of this project is to reach 12 classrooms and for students to learn more about the life cycle of chickens, understand specific poultry vocabulary and know the path from farm to consumer.

Edwards County Farm Bureau, Illinois

Edwards County Farm Bureau, along with Edwards County Farm Bureau Ag Literacy Coordinators, the Edwards County High School Ag teachers, the Albion Grade School elementary teachers, and the Edwards County FFA Chapter members collaborated to create portable ag literacy libraries. The libraries will be used by volunteers to read to elementary students at various scheduled times. The goal of this project is to increase students’ reading level and agricultural engagement in Edwards County while also creating the opportunity for students to learn about the intersection of agriculture and society.

Leavenworth County Farm Bureau, Kansas

Leavenworth County Farm Bureau seeks to create an interactive learning experience for kindergarten-third grade students by creating ag literacy kits with various books and activities designed to teach about farm-to-table production practices. Each kit will include a gameboard style map, family activities, waymarking/geocaching and other inspiring hands-on creative projects. The goal of this project is to encourage parent-child learning while providing an understanding of the intersection between agriculture and society.

Hopkins County Farm Bureau, Kentucky

Hopkins County Farm Bureau developed an education program for elementary students based on Peggy Thomas’s book “Full of Beans.” The first part of the project will focus on using the book to enhance the economic curriculum at elementary schools. Hopkins County Farm Bureau board members will then reach out to several local soybean farmers to teach about the basics of soybean production. Finally, the students will participate in multiple science experiments with Soybean Science Kits.

Allegany County Farm Bureau, New York

In partnership with Bolivar-Richburg Central School, Allegany County Farm Bureau seeks to expand its Wolverine Environmental Education (WEE) Center. This center has a garden and multiple resources that allow it to serve as an interactive learning laboratory for students. The goal of the project is to add maple syruping equipment to the WEE to increase the efficacy of the maple syrup production process.

Madison County Farm Bureau, New York

In partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Madison County Farm Bureau seeks to create agriculturally focused, hands-on lessons that can be completed in schools or virtually with live virtual instruction. This program will reach third and fourth grade students and focus on wheat production. Overall, the project aims to increase ag literacy among students while also demonstrating the significance of agriculture and potential careers.

Brazos County Farm Bureau, Texas

Brazos County Farm Bureau seeks to improve and sustain the chicken coop on their campus. This coop has served as a great resource for students as they were able to sell eggs and gain hands-on experience raising chickens and learning about the chicken life cycle. The expansion of the project will allow the coop to be fortified and protected from predators.

Brazoria-Galveston County Farm Bureau, Texas

In partnership with multiple local FFA chapters, Brazoria-Galveston Farm Bureau is providing accurate ag books and agriculture-related materials to third grade classes across three school districts. Volunteers will visit the classrooms, read books aloud and complete corresponding activities. The goal of this project is to visit 45 total classrooms and build a relationship between the schools and the County Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom volunteers.

Wood County Farm Bureau, Wisconsin

Wood County Farm Bureau plans to develop a portable agriculture trailer highlighting top commodities including dairy, beef, cranberries, wheat and soybeans. The trailer will include kiosks with educational videos and a hands-on opportunity to milk a cow. The goal of this project is to educate students and consumers about Wood County’s specific agricultural commodities and help them develop firsthand knowledge about where their food comes from.

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