A Year in the Making – Ag Across Iowa

We come to the close of 2015. It’s been an awesome year of growing, learning and reaching out for agriculture literacy… we seek to provide every student in Iowa an agricultural based learning experience. The Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation had the privilege to walk alongside and observe Agriculture in the Classroom taking place all over the state of Iowa. There were just too many examples of how this is being done to share them all in this short blog. We wanted to highlight a sampling of the ingenuity and creativity of individuals that share our passion.

January~ IALF launched the first issue of Iowa Ag Today. The student reader helped students explore the connections between agriculture and themselves. You know that “Agriculture is Everywhere!” It’s the business, science and practices of growing and selling plants and animals to be used for food, fiber and fuel. Iowa Ag Today goes out to every school across Iowa reaching students and making learning about agriculture fun!

February~ Linn County Farm Bureau raised awareness about agriculture by doing Pizz-A-Thon throughout the year. Pizza-A-Thon is an easy to implement, multi-day curriculum that engages students in exciting team activities to create and market a pizza business. Students explore, experiment and discover – linking food to careers, farming, soil and conservation. It employs critical thinking skills and presentation skills.

March~ Two Parkersburg second grade classes attended a Dr. Seuss Birthday. The Ag in the Classroom coordinator read the book “Green Eggs and Ham”. Students received books on chicken facts & pig facts to learn more about the two animals that made the cat’s breakfast possible. Students also learned how farmers take good care of the animals. They discovered that corn and soybeans are the main components of the feed the animals eat. Students were treated to a snack of “green eggs” made with pretzels, almond bark, and green M&Ms. After a quiz on the pig facts, students received a pig eraser to help them remember this special visit.  Awesome ag party!

April~ North Central Ag in the Classroom conducts Ag Education weeks in an effort to maintain consistent contact with students in a seven county area.  They provide up to a full week of ag lessons. Lessons are fun, innovative and are offered for preschool through sixth grade. Lessons are taught about Iowa’s agriculture and its importance to Iowa economy and society. Students learn where there food comes from and that we grow corn and soybeans and those plants become other products we eat and use every day.

May~ Eagle Grove, Barnum, Humboldt, Bode, Gilmore City, LuVerne and Algone schools all attended the Davis Dairy Farm Day. The Davis family opens their farm to over 400 students for tours milking barns, many different farm animals, a magician, horse drawn wagon rides and yummy milk, cheese curds and sugar cookies. What a fun day!

June~ A very busy month of learning across the state of Iowa as five 2-day teacher training workshops were held. Fast-paced professional development gave teachers background knowledge, instructional strategies, lessons and hands-on activity ideas to prepare them to immediately incorporate agriculture into classroom lessons! Teacher presentations included: the Family & Consumer Science conference A Journey from Education to Career and at the Iowa Reading Conference Iowa Ag Today: Putting an Iowa Spin on Language Arts Learning.

July~ IALF offered Fun with Drones, Plants and Power a fun STEM Camp at UNI! Students were engaged throughout the four day camp. Students IMG_0963learned corn and soybean plant anatomy at a farm,  about harvest technology at an implement dealership, and how corn is transported and stored at a coop. They made germination seed necklaces, conducted ethanol experiments, and visited with corn growers at the farm and at the elevator. Four days of Ag Fun!

September~ Siouxland Ag in the Classroom taught students about how our food, fuel and fiber all comes from a farm by reading The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen and by working on source search lessons. Siouxland Ag in the Classroom also has a program called “Adopt-a-farmer”. Thirty classrooms across a five county region are paired with farmers. The farmers represent different aspects of agriculture including sheep, cattle, hogs and grain. Some classes went on field trips to their farmer’s operation or have plans to in the spring. Several farmers visited classrooms with examples of feedstuffs, cornstalks or soybean plants. In one instance the farmer brought a piglet for the students to see. Teachers and farmers work together to provide examples like how farmers use math on a daily basis.

October~ Jasper County Farm Bureau used Skype and an iPad to help students in Newton chat with a farmer about cover crops and Baxter Ag Day-2conservation. During the virtual fieldtrip, students were able to take a close-up look at cover crops planted near Prairie City and ask the farmer questions about what they saw. The teacher used IALF’s Iowa Ag Today to help her students learn more about conservation methods used by farmers. After the FarmChat students watched short video clips of moldboard plows and the vertical tillage tools of today. The students made “tillage brownies” to demonstrate how farming practices continue to change to protect the soil and for the class to enjoy!

November~ IALF held an Ag in the Classroom workshop for county contacts. There were 60 in attendance. It was a day filled with very positive examples of great things happening around the state. Attendees were thrilled to have the hands on learning to be able to share with their own communities. Great information, lessons plans and resources were shared and great connections were made.

~ Four classes of third grade students from Taft Elementary enjoyed a harvest tour on Nov. 3 at the Coleman farm west of Humboldt. Eighty-six students
visited the farm for a tour as part of their ‘Adopt-a-Farmer’ program. Participants were given several opportunities to learn about soybeans and corn. The students watched one of the farmers harvest corn with a combine and were able to pick their own ear of corn.

December~ IALF honored the 1st recipient of the Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award. John Seiser is a fifth and sixth grade teacher from 1797485_653063721425708_665726682248900771_nBlairsburg, Iowa. Seiser competed against other elementary, middle and high school teachers to earn the honor. Seiser regularly integrates agriculture into his classroom curriculum including science, math, social studies, reading and language. He involved the students in raising turkeys, creating compost, and exploring agriculture in Iowa history.

We are excited to see what plans are in the making for 2016. We hope that more individuals recognize the value and importance of agriculture literacy and join us in this journey of learning and sharing agriculture in Iowa. With that we say goodbye to 2015 and await new adventures in 2016.

– Sheri

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