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Agrimarketing : October 2009
Editor’s note: We invited some of the ag industry’s organizations with projects aimed at educating the consumer about modern agriculture to share their thoughts about their programs. For more background, see “For Openers” on page 6. AG IN THE CLASSROOM by P. Gregory Smith Acting National Program Leader and G . Lindell Williams USDA,Washington, D.C . In 1981, USDA implemented the Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) program, an initiative for K-12 teachers to advance agricultural literacy by helping students in the classroom learn how food is produced, and what steps it takes for food to get from the farm gate to the dinner plate. Through its mission of increasing agricultural and science literacy, AITC provides resources for teachers and students to gain a greater aware- ness of the role of agriculture in the economy and society. Over the years, the program’s activities have focused on incorpo- rating agriculture into core class- room curricula and on educating teachers about the effectiveness of agriculture’s use as a teaching tool. Our AITC network comprises national and state program staffs who annually reach approximately 120,000 teachers, other educators and volunteers. This primary audience and AITC program staff, in turn, reach approxi- mately five million students each year. This outreach is a critical first step in developing the necessary awareness of agriculture’s role in society. By educating about agricul- tural related careers, the program also helps address the declining workforce in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A premier product of AITC effort is the National Resource Directory (http://www.agclassroom.org/directory/) a nationally reviewed repository containing hundreds of classroom resources for teachers. This database of lesson plans, web quests, DVDs, virtual tours, kits, books, maps, posters, and more supports any K-12 teacher in any subject area. Other resources provided by AITC fund more regional or state- focused projects. One example is a project entitled “Agricultural Liter- acy — Missouri.” This web-based agricultural learning project provides teacher developed agricultural literacy mate- rials, available to thousands of teach- ers through the internet. The learn- ing resources are designed to be upgraded to meet national learning standards. This project also includes a state-of-the-art model community learning center for learning about agriculture. Another regional project builds upon the educational use of USDA’s new food guide pyramid. In this effort, North Carolina AITC staff developed classroom lessons that connect agricultural awareness with science and healthful living instruc- tional standards. In this “Farmer Grows a Rain- bow” project, an $80,000 grant from Agriculture in the Classroom sup- ports the distribution of sets of lesson plans (one per grade level, PreK-5), several teaching “props” to be used for designated grade levels, and song lyrics that outline the colored segments of the food guide pyramid. Lessons have been demon- strated at several teacher and profes- sional development workshops throughout the country. To learn more about these and other exciting initiatives underway through AITC, please visit our web site at: http://www.agclassroom.org. AMERICA’S HEARTLAND by Jason Shoultz America’s Heartland, Sacramento, CA As we ride across the swampy Florida pastureland, the eyes of our host light up. He’s tended to the cattle on this land for 72 years, and now rancher Alto “Bud” Adams is sharing his passion with America’s Heartland. We stop and look at the cattle breed he helped develop. We explore the preserved thickets of brush and trees — bursting with wildlife. And as Adams takes out his digital SLR camera to capture photos of the scene, it occurs to me: This is exactly what the program is about — A rancher whose love of the land has preserved his family business and the environ- ment for generations to come. For five seasons, it has been sharing the story of American agriculture with a non-farming TV audience. America’s Heartland has visited all 50 states to share the stories of the hard-working men and women providing our food, fuel and fiber. We’ve even visited China, Taiwan, Egypt and Morocco to explore over- seas trade opportunities. Produced by KVIE public televi- 24 Agri Marketing I October 2009 COVER STORY AGRICULTURE’S CONSUMER OUTREACH Shoultz 24 Feature Story:32 Feature Story 10/1/09 4:22 PM Page 24
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