Through its annual County Activities of Excellence Awards, the American Farm Bureau Federation celebrates county Farm Bureaus for their unique, volunteer-driven programming. The following counties were among 12 recognized for their programs and activities in 2019 and 2020. The programs featured here focused on outreach to school children.
Lesson in a Bucket
Woodford County (Ill.) Farm Bureau's Lesson in a Bucket program reaches about 500 elementary students each year and ensures that every third grader in the county learns more about agriculture.
The buckets, which contain lesson materials on crops, livestock and natural resources, are distributed by the county Women’s Committee; committee members are assigned a school and establish themselves as the go-to for all things agriculture in the third-grade classroom(s).
Each of the 24 third-grade classrooms in the county receives a total of six lessons throughout the year. The lessons are delivered in buckets, two at a time. The buckets are labeled with a Lesson in a Bucket graphic and the Woodford County Farm Bureau contact information. In addition to two lessons, the first bucket of the school year also contains Ag in the Classroom calendars, contact information for the classroom’s designated Women’s Committee member, general information about GMOs and other hot agriculture topics and information on becoming a Farm Bureau member.
Each of the buckets has a theme and contains related teaching materials, including Illinois Ag Mags for each student, books (which are returned to the county Farm Bureau) and STEM-based lessons and activities from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture and Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom. The buckets cover grain (corn and soybeans), livestock (beef and pork) and natural resources (pollinators and soil).
In addition to setting their assigned classroom up with the buckets, the Women’s Committee member also keeps in touch with the teacher via email to provide any additional information the students or teachers may need and to share current agriculture news that would be of interest to that age group.
Farm Bureau Forestry Days
Students participate in one of the many hands-on activities during Harlan County (Ky.) Farm Bureau's Forestry Days.
To teach students the value of Kentucky’s vast woodland and forestry industry, Harlan County Farm Bureau in 2019 offered more than 100 fifth grade students an up-close look at forestry. HCFB partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Kentucky Division of Forestry, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Harlan County Board of Education, Corum Tree Farm and the Kentucky Woodland Owners Association for the Harlan County Farm Bureau Forestry Days.
An in-school session on tree identification and timber stand management taught by the members of the Harlan County Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Women’s Committees primed the 104 fifth grade students for the field trip portion of the event.
During the field trip, which took place on the grounds of the Pine Mountain Settlement School, every student participated in hands-on educational activities related to tree identification, forest management, timber stand improvement, measuring tree volume with a Biltmore stick, the ecological and financial value of a healthy managed forest and natural land trusts. The activities were led by school staff, state foresters and county Farm Bureau board members.
Tomato Plants to Grow and Feed Your Family
Daviess County Farm Bureau
Tomato plants for donation.
With more people eating at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Daviess County (Ky.) Farm Bureau wanted to give students and their families a taste of growing – and eating – their own food. The tomato plants they distributed in conjunction with the meals provided to students through the free and reduced school lunch program were provided by a board member who owned a roadside market. Another board member who is the county horticulture agent provided growing and care instructions.
The tomato plants were started in a greenhouse and ready for distribution three weeks later. The care instructions were posted on the Daviess County Farm Bureau Facebook page, which encouraged ongoing engagement with the organization. More than 650 tomato plants were handed out to students and their families at four school sites across the county.
Greenup County Farm Bureau
To enhance student’s knowledge about the importance of pollinators, Greenup County (Ky.) Farm Bureau’s extensive efforts included helping launch a Junior Bee Club in each of the district’s four elementary schools during the 2019/2020 school year.
In addition, the county Farm Bureau conducted an Ag Adventure Day in September 2019 featuring a bees and pollinator habitat station; around 315 fourth graders attended. The County Farm Bureau also hosted beekeepers at the elementary schools to demonstrate how to set up beehives, discuss caring for and maintaining beehives, and explain how bees help the local economy through honey sales and pollination of flowers, gardens and crops.
National Honeybee Day
Greenup County Farm Bureau also passed out seeds that benefit pollinators at beekeepers’ meetings, gardeners’ meetings and other community events. The group celebrated National Honeybee Day, Aug. 15, with community activities.
Greenup County Farm Bureau’s efforts brought many organizations together including the local cooperative Extension service, FFA, the county elementary schools, the Beekeepers’ Association, Master Gardeners Club, Soil and Water Conservation Service, Bayer Crop Science and others.
Even the county war memorial was involved; students, teacher advisors and parents planted bulbs there both for forage and decoration.
Applications are now open for the 2021 County Activities of Excellence. Up to 24 counties will display their winning activities at the 2021 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention and Trade Show in Atlanta in January. County award winners receive up to four free registrations to the Annual Convention (cost of travel and housing not included) and a $2,250 stipend to apply toward the cost of travel and exhibition.