Ag-in-the-classroom applications sought




Applications are being accepted until April 15 for the annual Alabama Ag in the Classroom summer institute, a grassroots program coordinated by the United States Department of Agriculture that prepares teachers to increase student knowledge of agriculture.

Set for June 15-17 at the Marriott Shoals in Florence, the workshop will include activities for teachers of grades kindergarten through sixth and field trips to several area farms.

“The program educates teachers and students about agriculture in our state and teaches children how important it is to our daily lives,” said program chairman Kim Earwood.

“The summer institute provides books and hands-on activities that teachers can carry back to their classrooms. While teaching children about agriculture, the activities will reinforce classroom curriculums of history, math, science, reading, and writing that complement the Alabama Department of Education’s course of study,” she said.

“There was a time when most children in Alabama grew up on farms. But today, fewer children are raised in a rural setting, and many really don’t understand how important farms are,” Earwood said. “Agriculture is part of the history of our state and nation, and it’s definitely part of our future as we look for ways to feed a hungry world and find renewable fuels.”

The farm tours are the most popular part of the summer institute, however, Earwood said. “Our tours allow the teachers to ask farmers questions about what happens at their farms. It helps make farming seem real, especially to those teachers who have never lived on a farm.”

Sponsors of the program include the Alabama Farmers Federation, Alfa Insurance, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, Alabama Poultry Contract Growers Association, Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, Alabama Farmers Federation State Soybean Committee and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. Proceeds from the sale of ag tags also benefit the program.

The institute will be limited to 95 educators, and applicants will be selected on the basis of an application form provided by the AITC Planning Committee. It is available online at AlabamaAITC.org.

Lodging, most meals, and workshop materials will be furnished. Teachers also can receive continuing education credits. For more information, contact Kim Earwood, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Women’s Division and institute chairman, at (334) 612-5370 or email KEarwood@AlfaFarmers.org.

Applications should be sent to: Amy Belcher, Alabama Ag in the Classroom, P.O. Box 3336, Montgomery, AL 36109- 0336 or faxed to (334) 240-7169.