According to Indiana Farm Bureau’s mission statement, promoting agriculture through public education is one of the organization’s key goals. That is exactly what is accomplished through the Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) program.
Each year since the program began in 1980, thousands of students across the state have been reached by volunteers who have a passion to teach children of all ages about agriculture.
Sixty-three of Indiana’s 92 counties have volunteers actively promoting agriculture education, teaching kids as young as pre-kindergarten all the way up to grade 12.
Julie Taylor is INFB’s Ag in the Classroom coordinator, and each year she helps provide new, exciting and educational activities and lessons to teachers and volunteers across the state so they can better inform the students about the importance of agriculture in their everyday lives.
From making DIY soy ink and corn plastic to agriculture literacy programs, the Agriculture in the Classroom program covers a wide range of ag-related topics.
AITC is coordinated by the USDA, and therefore there are standards that the program’s lessons must meet. Taylor, who prior to coming to Farm Bureau was a family and consumer science teacher in Boone County, makes sure that the lessons being taught easily correlate with those schools’ education standards.
Melba Loyd and Karen King are two women who have served their county Farm Bureaus and the Ag in the Classroom program as volunteers for many years. When Loyd first began working with the program, there was a delay in the school system allowing organizations to come into the schools. But now, just a few years later, Ag in the Classroom is in six of the 13 schools in Loyd’s district. When asked why she is so passionate about AITC, Loyd said, “I just love to work with the kiddos. Kids are my thing!”
Karen King also has a passion for teaching children the importance of agriculture. Because she was previously a teacher and principal, she was able to get her school on board right away with the program.
From talking about apples in fall to honey bees in spring, “You can teach almost anything through fun activities,” King said. These women, along with many other volunteers throughout the state, are making impacts on multiple children’s lives.
“You do make a difference in their life,” said King.
Ag in the Classroom continues to grow every year and make an impact on all students who have the opportunity to be a part of the program.