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Tilling the Soil for Agricultural Education

Zippy Duvall


photo credit: AFBF photo by Bailey Corwine

Summer break is just around the corner, but learning is always in season. The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is abuzz with resources, activities and literacy items for learners of all ages to continue their education after that last bell rings for the school year.

I'm especially excited about "The Soil in Jackie's Garden," the newest release from our Foundation's book publishing arm, Feeding Minds Press. Written by Peggy Thomas and illustrated by Neely Dagget, this engaging picture book brings young readers along with Jackie and her garden friends as they discover the wonders of gardening, soil secrets and the magic of composting. An excellent way for our next generation to learn how to care for a garden, understand a plant-life cycle, the role of pollinators and decomposers, and the importance of environmental stewardship. This science-rich book is now available, and you can order your copy today from our Foundation.

We need to ensure we can continue to plant the seeds that yield a harvest of knowledge.

Did you know that today, May 29, is National Compost Day? Well, it’s no coincidence that this book on soil was released today for kids to dig into. After learning about soil health with Jackie, kids and their parents might be inspired to work in their own gardens or to start a compost pile. Thanks to the Foundation team, the book also provides practical information for families looking to boost sustainability in their own backyards. There are also plenty of other great learning resourcesand materials for educators and parents.

This latest title will grow the Feeding Minds Press library to 10 as it continues to produce educational books and materials which help kids, and their parents, better understand where their food comes from. The Foundation’s previous titles, "I Love Strawberries" and "Tales of the Dairy Godmother: Chuck's Ice Cream Wish," to name a couple, have already garnered national recognition and numerous awards. “I LOVE Strawberries,” alone, is a winner of seven awards, including the Good Housekeeping 2022 Best Kids’ Book Award. We also recently saw one of our 2023 publications, "Farm Boots," be awarded the GOLD Benjamin Franklin Award, one of the highest national honors in independent publishing.

In addition to these great books, the Foundation continues to provide an array of educator resources from special conference and resource grants to On the Farm STEM training. The Foundation’s classroom resources cover various agricultural topics and allow teachers to connect agriculture as an integral part of science and technology education, through STEM lessons, activities and videos.

I couldn't be prouder of our staff and board at the Foundation for their dedication to growing awareness and understanding around agriculture. If we are going to educate and inspire the next generation to appreciate and perhaps even pursue careers in agriculture, we need to ensure we can continue to plant the seeds that yield a harvest of knowledge.

So whether you're a parent looking for some summer activities, a teacher looking to plan ahead for bringing ag into the classroom, or someone simply wanting to learn something new, I encourage you to join in and check out everything the Foundation has to offer. Parents, volunteers and educators can search for resources here: https://www.agfoundation.org/resources/search. You might even grab a copy of “The Soil in Jackie's Garden" for the young readers in your life.