Students learn about agriculture through TFB programs

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By Julie Tomascik
Editor

The new school year offers opportunities to build an understanding of agriculture in Texas classrooms through several Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) programs.

“The classroom agriculture programs are designed to meet Texas teaching standards and connect agriculture to what students are already learning in the classroom,” said Jordan Bartels, associate director of the organization’s division of TFB, education awareness. “We want to introduce the world of agriculture to young minds and help students of all levels learn more about where their food, fiber and fuel come from.”

Resources available to teachers include the Farm From School program, the Learning from the Ground Up Garden Grant program, lesson plans and short videos with guided activities.

school farm
Students can virtually visit farms and ranches from their classrooms with TFB’s Farm From School program.

This is the fourth semester of the free program, which aims to show students in kindergarten through fifth grade the diversity of Texas agriculture. It is open to public, private and home educators.

Classrooms will virtually connect with farmers and herders once a month from September to December. Student questions can be submitted through the Q&A function on the virtual platform during visits.

Throughout the semester, students will participate in agriculture-integrated classes and learn about agricultural concepts introduced during virtual field trips.

TFB will also provide TEKS-aligned lessons, activity books and other complementary resources for virtual farm tours.

Registration for the fall semester closes August 29.

Garden grants
Students can dive into agriculture through TFB’s Learning From the Ground Up Garden Scholarship Program.

The grant was created to support schools as they teach students about the sources of their food, fiber and fuel.

Eligible projects must provide students with hands-on, experiential learning about agriculture through the funding of a new garden project or the enhancement of an existing garden or greenhouse.

Aquaponic and hydroponic systems are eligible if used to teach students about food production.

Grants can be requested from TFB up to $500, and Bartels noted that some county agricultural offices offer matching funds.

To be eligible, the applicant must be a teacher or administrator at any Texas PK-12 school. Parent-teacher associations or other organizations can apply when the project directly involves students.

Agricultural concepts should be used in teaching. Preference will be given to projects that directly engage students in hands-on agricultural experience. The project must be scientific in nature to be considered.

All applications must include a project schedule, a list of community partners, and a detailed budget with estimated expenses.

TFB will only accept one grant application per school per grant cycle. For example, an elementary school and a middle school from the same district can each apply, but two applications from the same elementary school cannot be submitted.

Applications must be submitted online by October 14.

lesson plans
Agriculture can come to life in classrooms across the state, thanks to TFB’s interactive lesson plans and virtual resources.

The program available online explores concepts such as sustainability, technology and science. The lessons also aim to stimulate thoughtful conversations about innovations on farms and ranches, supply and demand, and the challenges facing agriculture.

Short videos and guided activities bring the farm into the classroom and deepen understanding of agriculture.

Also available for teachers is the Agriculture in the Classroom Curriculum Matrix, which gives teachers access to over 500 lessons that integrate agricultural concepts across all subject areas and grade levels. Many of these lessons meet TEKS standards set by the state.

Additional Resources
TFB has resources and materials available for free download, as well as some items available for purchase. Items include class sets, bookmarks and coloring books.

Educators can also download product-specific posters and Farm Connection publications for free.

Over 70 videos are available for classroom use, including harvest footage, crop-specific videos, and “Meet a Farmer” videos.

Links to the National Classroom Agriculture Organization, American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, grant information, and other programs can also be found on TFB’s Ag in the Classroom webpage.

Outstanding Ag in Classroom Teacher App
Each year, the TFB awards a teacher the Agriculture in the Classroom Outstanding Teacher Award.

This award is given to the teacher for their innovative, multi-disciplinary, and ongoing efforts to teach students about the importance of agriculture.

A county agricultural office must appoint the teacher.

Certified teachers who actively teach agriculture in PK-12 level classrooms are eligible for the award. They can teach any subject or content area except professional agriculture.

Previous winners of the award are not eligible. Teachers who have already been appointed but not selected may be reappointed by a county agricultural office.

Interested teachers who qualify can contact their county Farm Bureau office to inquire about the nomination.

Nominations are due October 7.

More information
Information about Ag in the Classroom programs, lessons and materials, as well as the Outstanding Ag in the Classroom Teacher app, is available online at texasfarmbureau.org/aitc.

For questions or more information, contact Bartels at 254-751-2569 or [email protected]

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