Indiana Ag in the Classroom
Not every school has a cattle farm on site, but one program ensures kids from pre-kindergarten through high school know where their food, clothes and even fuel comes from.
Agriculture in the Classroom is a national initiative established in 1981 and coordinated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At the state level, Indiana Farm Bureau runs the vital and growing program, which provides educational resources to schools in all 92 counties of the state.
“In Indiana, we use a network of volunteers who are Farm Bureau members to go into classrooms and help educate students about the importance of agriculture,” says Julie Taylor, education coordinator for Indiana Farm Bureau. “Just about anything that’s ag-related, we’ve got volunteers presenting – things that they feel passionate or they’re knowledgeable about.”
Lesson topics include corn and soybeans, fibers such as wool and cotton, dairy and meat, biotechnology, and science.
The program also offers teachers a variety of lesson plans and curriculum on its website, inaitc.org. The national website, agclassroom.org, has a searchable curriculum matrix based on common core standards.
A grant from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture funded three workshops for teachers in 2014, as well as free ag literacy toolkits for schools featuring a full-color Ag-Mag magazine targeting grades 3-6 and other resources.
“Agriculture is everywhere,” Taylor says. “It’s important to know how it impacts your life.”