Columbia, S.C. – Thirty-six educators from across South Carolina recently learned how to bring agriculture into their classrooms. The South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation hosted its annual Ag in the Classroom Summer Teacher Institute June 10-14 in Columbia, S.C., where teachers of grades pre-K through 8th grade in public and private schools learned the importance of family farms and farmers and how to teach agricultural lesson to their students.
“The Ag in the Classroom program has many benefits because through hands-on learning, we can help teachers understand the importance of agriculture, and those teachers are then going to take that back to their own classrooms of sometimes thirty students. The overall outreach of the program is unmatched,” said Harry Ott, SCFB President.
In addition to learning strategies for bringing agriculture into their daily lessons, Institute participants heard from agriculture and education experts from Clemson University Extension, the SC Ag Statistics Department, the SC Department of Agriculture among others. Participants also experienced two days of farm tours in the Midlands, including the State Farmers Market, the Governor’s mansion grounds, Saluda Shoals, UofSC’s Williams Brice stadium and fruit, vegetable, rowcrop, beef and dairy farms.
“I never cease to be amazed at the positive agricultural impact this course makes in the lives of teachers from across the state during this one week,” said Tracy Miskelly, director of the Ag in the Classroom program. “Teachers leave with a greater understanding of and appreciation for agriculture and those who grow their food, fiber and shelter.”
“It is so important that students learn where their food and resources come from,” said Stephanie Sox, director of Promotion and Education for SCFB. “Providing teachers with not only the information and lesson plans they need, but also the confidence to teach agriculture, makes it easy for them to do just that.”
Ag in the Classroom Institute participants received lesson plans aligned to the state curriculum standards to use in their own classrooms. They also left with resources they can use to teach students about agriculture and the benefits farmers add to the economy, the environment and the community.
Participants earned three hours of graduate credit for recertification from Winthrop University, courtesy of SCFB’s Ag in the Classroom Fund. Along with a modest registration fee, which many County Farm Bureau chapters reimburse to participants, sponsorships raised through the fund cover the cost of tuition, room and board, resources, speakers and tours, and materials for the week-long Institute.
“If agriculture is to maintain its status as South Carolina’s largest business sector – providing more than 212,000 jobs and nearly a $42 billion impact on South Carolina’s economy – we’ve got to help people understand the link between their food and fiber and the farm,” said Ott. “Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program is a tool to help us accomplish that goal through our state’s teachers, and in turn, to our state’s children.”
The 2019 SCFB Ag in the Classroom Summer Teacher Institute was funded through generous support from the SC Ag in the Classroom Fund, the Dairy Alliance, SC Cattlemen’s Association, SC Beef Council, SC Soybean Board, SC Cotton Board, SC Peanut Board, SC Advocates for Agriculture, Amick Farms, SC Pork Board, Newberry Electric Co-op, York Electric Co-op, Ag South, ArborOne, Chester County Farm Bureau, Richland County Farm Bureau and York County Farm Bureau.
SCFB’s Ag in the Classroom program also offers year-round, no-cost in-service workshops to South Carolina pre-kindergarten through middle school teachers, schools and school districts. To make a tax deductible contribution to the 501(c)(3) Ag in the Classroom program, for more information or to schedule an in-service workshop, contact Tracy Miskelly at 803-936-4237 or firstname.lastname@example.org.