In Tough Year for Agriculture, Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom Builds Awareness, Support
Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC), a program of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, headed back to school this fall with new, grade-specific lessons and activities for Nebraska teachers. AITC has a long history of creating resources tied to state education standards to assist teachers in connecting students to agriculture – their source of food, fiber and fuel.
“The Foundation has taken big steps forward this year and looks forward to continued positive momentum. There has been growth in the number of participating schools, students and lessons offered,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director.
As part of the effort, Classroom Visits provide students with opportunities to develop an awareness that agriculture is their source of food, clothing and shelter. Since the beginning of the school year, Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation staff have taught in 21 classrooms, reaching 453 students. Over the summer, staff developed Classroom Visit lessons that complement core subject-area learning and focus on a unique commodity related to the grade level.
“For the 2019-2020 school year, the Classroom Visit program was updated to offer two unique agricultural lessons for each elementary grade level that aligns to science, social studies and language arts learning targets. Each lesson builds year-to-year for sustained impact in the classroom. Programming continues to build and link experiences together for a lasting effect,” said Schafer.
Meanwhile, the third year of the Connecting Chapters program kicked off this fall with 72 FFA chapter participants. The program equips high school FFA members to connect with elementary students and peers to introduce agricultural literacy – awareness, knowledge and appreciation of agriculture – in their communities.
“Through Connecting Chapters, FFA members gain practice with listening, understanding and sharing agriculture in a meaningful way. This program builds confident agricultural advocates and community leaders,” said Courtney Schaardt, director of outreach education and program leader.
Newly created interactive displays also rolled out this fall for engagement outside of classroom walls. These displays share with students and consumers information about careers in agriculture, food labeling and biotechnology. The volunteers of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education Committee have led these activities and conversations at the state fair and other public events across the state. Through these events, the committee and staff have reached approximately 2,650 Nebraskans.
“The number of students and families reached through volunteers nearly doubled this past year. Volunteers enrich programs, bring together a community of leaders and share a passion for helping Nebraskans understand the importance of Nebraska agriculture,” said Schafer.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is grateful for the support of numerous volunteers and partners.
“We are proud to partner with all the major commodity groups and the University of Nebraska to provide comprehensive agricultural literacy programming statewide. In a year where devastating storms and floods have impacted much of rural Nebraska, we know it is more important than ever for all Nebraskans to understand and support the work of farm and ranch families and their contributions to our great state,” said Schafer.
Agriculture in the Classroom® is a program coordinated by the United States Department of Agriculture through the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization. In Nebraska, the Agriculture in the Classroom program is managed by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.