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Planting Agricultural Understanding for Future Generations

By Katelyn Karney

As the disconnect between urban America and agriculture continues to grow at an alarming rate with new subdivisions popping up in place of crops, Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) is working to educate youth on the importance of agriculture in their area. Last year, TFB teamed up with PCCA, Ag Texas Farm Credit Services, Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, and Chick-fil-A to continue bringing an event called Ag in theClassroom (AITC) to Lubbock-area teachers.

“Ag in the Classroom was first proposed by USDA Secretary of Agriculture John Block in 1985,” said Tad Duncan, Director of Agriculture Education for Texas Farm Bureau. “The program encouraged states to establish their own Ag in the Classroom program. There is a program in all 50 states, and about half of them are coordinated through the state farm bureau.”

Originally overseen by the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, PCCA volunteered to coordinate the program beginning in 2012. The workshop is geared toward teachers, providing them with techniques about educating students who might be three or four generations removed from agriculture, and about where their food, fuel and fiber come from.

“AITC provides teachers with quality resource materials they can use to integrate agriculture across the curriculum-math, science, social studies, and language arts,” Duncan said. “Most states’ AITC programs, Texas included, are science heavy to meet the new national STEM initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).”

Teachers also receive continuing professional development credit for attending AITC workshops which are credits required by state law for a teacher to maintain their teaching certification. The eight-hour workshop also provides educators with real-world techniques and science experiments to encourage students to learn about the world around them.

“Ag in the Classroom is another great avenue for teaching agriculture,” said John Johnson, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs for PCCA. “Instead of trying to reach students ourselves, we are providing all of the necessary resources to those who can best reach the next generation. There is no question this is a program worthy of our time, and when it only requires a few hours out of our day, it is well worth it.”