By Stacey Lauwers
I recently joined more than 400 educators from around the country to learn how to use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies and more at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. The three-day conference featured workshops focused on educational lessons taught through the lens of agriculture.
As a farmer and educator, it was a win-win for me. Being at an event focused on agriculture and education meant I was encircled by two of my passions. I was excited to be “wearing two hats” at this conference as I attended sessions and gathered information.
As a regional educator in Michigan Farm Bureau’s FARM (Food, Agriculture and Resources in Motion) Science Lab, I gathered resources to support current and future agriculture-focused lessons. This included fun information and cool supplies to incorporate into our soil lesson to help explain why water testing, crop nutrients, seed selection and healthy soil are essential to farmers as they work to feed our world’s growing population.
As chairperson of my county Farm Bureau’s Promotion & Education Committee, I found many resources that can be used at public outreach events and in classrooms for hands-on learning about agriculture. For example, I loved the Escape Room, which used challenges, riddles and mysteries to unlock boxes and offer fun ag education opportunities for students. The quick lesson ideas and “make-and-take” crafts that were provided will be a great addition to our county’s Project Rural Education Day (Project RED) or family agriculture nights at local parks.
Great conversations and networking opportunities with other attendees are often the best part of conferences like this because in my experience, one of the most natural ways to connect with other people is over a shared passion.
It’s during these networking occasions that I am able to expand my educational support network, exchange fresh ideas and help others by sharing my own experiences. I know that many of the people I met will become a great resource for me in the future because as the old saying goes, “Two minds are better than one.” I’m also sure that many of the ideas I’ve picked up from other educators and Farm Bureau members at the conference will be of great use during future educational and outreach opportunities as I continue my work in ag-vocating.
Stacey Lauwers is a Farm Bureau member in Michigan. She serves on AFBF’s Promotion & Education Committee and received a White-Reinhardt scholarship from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture to attend the 2019 National Ag in the Classroom Conference.