There’s no question that folks today have a real hunger to understand where their food comes from, and the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is filling plates with books, resources and experiences for learners of all ages. I am going to take a minute here to brag on this team as their work is receiving national recognition. And just as importantly, I want to thank you all for your support of the Foundation. It’s your support that waters the seeds, making it possible for us to grow and harvest our top-notch resources and award-winning books.
Just this week, “I LOVE Strawberries”—one of our new titles from Feeding Minds Press—was recognized by Good Housekeeping’s Best Kids Book Awards. This is awesome news! If you haven’t picked up a copy, this book, written by Shannon Anderson and illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett, makes a great holiday gift for your kids or grandkids. It’s not just a great story, with engaging illustrations; it also sparks excitement in kids about growing food. Just like other Feeding Minds Press books like “Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish” and “Right This Very Minute,” it shows young readers all the work that goes into growing the foods and treats they enjoy. And it doesn’t surprise me one bit to share that this isn’t the only Feeding Minds Press book to be recognized this year. “Barn at Night,” written by Michelle Houts and illustrated by Jen Betton, recently received a Silver Moonbeam Award in the children’s picture book category for how this story celebrates curiosity and discovery.
These books are an exciting first step for kids to learn more about agriculture, but we know there is so much more for them to explore when it comes to understanding the science and innovation that drives modern farming. One of the Foundation’s hallmark programs for educators is On the Farm STEM, where urban and suburban teachers get out on the farm to see firsthand the care farmers and ranchers take in growing safe and sustainable food. These teachers take a new understanding of agriculture and excitement from the farm back to their classrooms to share what they have learned with their students.
Many of these teachers become advocates for agriculture themselves like On the Farm graduates Chidi Duru of Maryland who received a Fulbright Scholarship and Christine Girtain who just was named New Jersey State Teacher of the Year. Christine will be taking her platform as teacher of the year to share the importance of agricultural literacy. I cannot wait to hear about future farmers and agriculturalists who were inspired by these teachers and others who are bringing the farm to the classroom thanks to the Foundation and our supporters.
Together, we are truly reaching beyond our fencerows and engaging with consumers to share agriculture’s story. And these examples aren’t even the half of the work the Foundation is doing. From educator grants to interactive games like My American Farm to engaging educational activities like the Purple Plow Challenge, the Foundation truly reaps a bountiful harvest with the seeds sown from your support. If you’re not familiar with the work of the Foundation, I hope you’ll check out our website to learn more, visit the new Feeding Minds Press website to order books and get a preview of what’s coming, and check out our easy-to-use online Ag Lit Catalog to help you build on ag literacy efforts in your community. I think you’ll join me in bursting with pride for the work we’re doing together. And I’ll leave you with this challenge. If you’re already a supporter, please renew your support as we look to a new year, and if you’re new to the Foundation’s work, I invite you to join us today. Let’s keep filling plates with farm-fresh content that sparks curiosity and renews the trust the American people have in us to grow the food, fiber and fuel we all enjoy.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.