Consumers of all ages have a real hunger for more information about where their food comes from, and that gives farmers a great opportunity to share about the work we love. Who better to answer questions about how animals are cared for, why certain seeds are used, what role technology plays on a farm, and how our water and soil are being protected than the folks who are out in the field every day?
Studies show that consumers trust farmers and ranchers and want to hear our stories. But we also know that with social media and the constant news and entertainment cycle, there’s a lot of competition for “airtime.” We can’t be in all places at once. But we can work together to promote ag literacy.
That’s why the mission of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is devoted to ag education. When it comes to ag education, you can never start too early either.
From lesson plans to classroom activities to accurate ag books, the Foundation continues to expand its offerings and resources every year. We want all children—and their parents—to understand what goes into growing a safe, sustainable food supply and how innovation is turning crops into clean energy and climate-friendly textiles.
I’m especially excited about the newest release coming from the Foundation’s new book publishing venture, Feeding Minds Press. “Tales of the Dairy Godmother: Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish” will be available for online purchase in just a few weeks, on March 17. This beautifully illustrated children’s book follows a young boy who’d rather have some ice cream than do his chores, but then his Dairy Godmother appears to make his dreams come true in a way he doesn’t expect. Both Chuck and young readers then go on a special adventure to learn all about the work that goes into making one of our favorite treats.
As a former dairyman, I can’t wait for kids like Chuck to learn more about the care and hard work that goes into running a dairy farm. Feeding Minds Press is committed to producing kids’ books like this one, that tell the real story of modern agriculture. Too many folks have a romanticized view of agriculture, rather than see it as the innovative industry it is. We need more kids to see this and pursue careers in agriculture if we’re going to continue to be sustainable into the future. And who knows, maybe this dairy-tale will inspire the next farmer, veterinarian or ag researcher out there!
The Foundation is also looking to tend the soil of ag curiosity throughout a young person’s education, into middle and high school by connecting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) lessons to agriculture.
Agriculture education and STEM are a natural fit because farming is science in action, and each STEM field is critical to the sustainability of our industry. We’d love nothing more than to see an ag component in the STEM curriculum of all our nation’s schools. To that end, the Foundation has partnered with the Beef Checkoff to bring teachers out to farms so they can apply what they learn about agriculture to their classroom lessons and activities. And soon, we will offer a new science curriculum based on beef production, also developed in partnership with the Beef Checkoff, to teach middle- and high-school students about sustainable agricultural production methods and how agriculture practices apply science to the care of animals and the environment.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to see agriculture as a core component of every classroom? We believe it’s possible and are continuing to work toward that goal.
These resources are just a sampling of the generous servings of ag education tools, books and activities available from the Foundation. You can keep up on the latest and connect your local schools and teachers in your communities with these resources by checking out our website or signing up for the Foundation newsletter. Together we can share the story of agriculture with consumers of all ages.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.