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A new school year for Ag in the Classroom

It back to school time again in Bureau County. As the literacy coordinator for Bureau County, my main objective is to introduce agriculture to the public and the area’s youth. Most often I do this through great hands-on activities, resources and academic literature – all through Bureau County Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program.

To recap what we have been up to for the past few months, this past summer the Bureau County Farm Bureau and Ag in the Classroom connected with local libraries for their summer reading program. Many of the libraries had a program theme of “Have Book-Will Travel.” Ag in the Classroom linked programs to this main theme, with presentations about “Fruits and Vegetables around the World.” We provided information about nutritional fruits and vegetables in different places throughout the world. We read books aloud and explored an assortment of exciting hands-on activities with the children. Overall, many of the local libraries participated with Ag in Classroom presentations, and it was a joy to provide a fun event for kids during the summer.

In June, Ag in the Classroom and the Bureau County Farm Bureau offered a Tractor Trek to raise funds for our local Ag in the Classroom program. We are pleased to announce we had more than 60 riders and raised a total of $1,800. It was a lovely ride and very wonderful event. We also hosted the Bureau and Lee County Farm Bureau golf outing at Hunter’s Ridge in Princeton – 24 teams participated, and 25 companies sponsored holes, carts, meals and prizes. The event raised more than $5,500 total for both counties. It was the fourth year for the event, and it was fun and a successful turnout. Thank you to everyone who took part in these events.

Also in June, we hosted our annual Summer Ag Institute for Teachers. The primary goal for the week-long class is to give a basic understanding about agriculture along with lots of ideas for hands-on activities and lessons for the classroom – 12 teachers from three counties took part in this summer’s SAI. The schedule was set up for two days in the classroom and three days of field trips/tours of farms and agribusinesses. Tours ranged from a grain farm to a membership cooperative and from a confinement beef farm to an organic dairy.

As the summer comes to an end and fall begins, we start to focus and prepare for the new school year. This school year we will offer an assortment of activities from agriculture presentations, Ag magazines with activities, educational newsletters and a variety of educational kits. Our goal is to be able to provide lessons and agriculture information to all ages and to all classes in Bureau County. In the fall, we focus on connecting with libraries and schools to present and to offer kits about apples, pumpkins, fall crops, animals and many more topics. We are also working with family farmers in the area as they open their farms for classroom tours.

As with all of the programs, volunteers are always needed. If you would like to learn more about what is offered through Ag in the Classroom or how you can volunteer, please consider attending our fall educational meeting in October. On Oct. 23 at the Bureau County Farm Bureau, we are offering a meeting to introduce myself and to present the kits and presentations we are presenting for the fall. We are offering continuing education credits for teachers and information for teachers, librarians and interested public. The meeting will run from 4 to 6 p.m.; please call and make a reservation if you are interested in attending.

The educational opportunities are endless with the Ag in the Classroom program. For more information about any of our programs, call our office at 815-875-6468 or email aitc.bcfb@comcast.net. We would be more than happy to help you become involved in this wonderful program.

Sara Hildebrand is the ag literacy coordinator at the Bureau County Farm Bureau.

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