Planting the seed: Classroom leaders served up helping of agriculture knowledge 

Like many of her counterparts, Heather More, a fourth-grade teacher at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Elementary School, spends most of her year brainstorming ingredients to whip up a recipe for the perfect lesson plans to feed her students with knowledge.  

“I hope to be able to collaborate with different educators on agriculture resources that I can take back to my classroom,” she said. “We want to be able to find new ideas and work together with different teachers to bring agricultural knowledge to our students for the upcoming school year.” 

And just like the best chefs taste their dishes before they leave the kitchen, soy checkoff-funded tools provided to Minnesota Ag in the Classroom (MAITC) gave teachers the chance to dip their toes into an ag-centric lesson ahead of the new school year as part of The Hands That Feed Us, a hands-on event taking teachers from farm to plate. While Mother Nature moved the originally scheduled farm tour indoors, MAITC leaders say that didn’t stunt the growth of their lesson in agriculture.  

“Our biggest goal is to help empower teachers with the knowledge they need to be able to confidently teach agriculture concepts to their students,” said Emily Ponwith, resource specialist with MAITC. “We know that many teachers do not have any connection to a farm. Really the purpose of today is to help them build knowledge so they can take that back to their classrooms.” 

The original farm hosts remained an integral part of the event, stopping by the Mankato Area Business Center to share their farming experiences with ag tourism and commodity crops, including soybeans and corn. The layered lesson served as an eye-opening experience for classroom leaders, who realized the farm to fork journey is multi-faceted.  

“Just the different community members that go into agriculture,” More said. “It is not just farmers. It is not just a one-person show. It is a team of people and a team effort, so that is a really cool thing.” 

With several statewide teacher tours under their belt, and many more on the horizon, MAITC believes its partnership with the soy checkoff will only help beef up the spread of agricultural education to future generations.  

“It’s really just this ripple effect, because if the adults feel confident about agriculture, it’s not only spilling over into their classrooms, but also into their life as a consumer,” Ponwith said.  “There are many misconceptions about the ag industry, so it’s really just a way we can equip them with knowledge and facts about what it is that we do as agriculture producers.” 

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