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SC Farm Bureau teaches agriculture in the classroom

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COLUMBIA – Forty-seven educators from across the state recently learned how to incorporate agricultural lesson plans into their daily teaching schedules. The South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation (SCFB) hosted its annual Ag in the Classroom Summer Teacher Institute June 8-12 in Columbia, where teachers of grades pre-K through 8 in public or private schools learned how to teach the importance of family farmers and domestically produced food, fiber, forestry products, and fuel to their students. “It is so important that students learn where their food and resources come from,” Vonne Knight, SCFB Director of Ag Literacy said. “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.” In addition to instruction about their learning and teaching styles, Institute participants also heard from agriculture and education experts from Clemson University’s College Relations/Ag Careers Department and Department of Animal and Veterinary Science, and the SC Department of Agriculture. Participants also experienced two days of touring Midlands area farms. “It all starts with our students,” said Kirby Player, Director of College Relations at Clemson University. “If we can help them understand where there food comes from – instead of them thinking it comes from the grocery store – then we are doing our job.” Marianne Copelan of the South Carolina Peanut Board said, “The Ag in the Classroom program is so beneficial because we can educate our teachers on the importance of agriculture, and those teachers are then going to take that back to their classrooms of sometimes thirty students. The overall outreach of the program is ideal.” “I never cease to be amazed at the positive impact agriculture makes in the lives of teachers from across the state during this one week,” said Knight. “Teachers leave with a greater understanding of and appreciation for agriculture. I have never been part of a more rewarding higher education experience.” Ag in the Classroom Institute participants earned a set of grade-specific lesson plans aligned to the State curriculum standards to use in their own classroom this fall. 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 also received three hours of graduate credit 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 SCFB’s Ag in the Classroom Fund cover the cost of tuition, room and board, resource speakers and tours, and materials for the week-long Institute. SCFB President David Winkles said, “If agriculture is to maintain its status as South Carolina’s largest business sector – providing more than 212,000 jobs and more than a $42 billion impact on South Carolina’s economy – we’ve got to help people understand the link between their food, fiber, and shelter and the farm. 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 2014 SCFB Ag in the Classroom Summer Teacher Institute was funded through generous support from the SC Ag in the Classroom Fund, SC Farm Bureau Federation, SC Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., the SC Beef Board, the SC Cattlemen’s Association, the SC Soybean Board, the SC Peanut Board, SC Advocates for Agriculture, Newberry Electric Cooperative, the SC Pork Board, AgSouth Farm Credit, the SC Greenhouse Growers Association and Lynches River Electric Cooperative. 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 SCFB Ag Literacy Program Director Vonne Knight at 803-936-4409 or vknight@scfb.org. The SC Farm Bureau Federation is a non-profit membership organization formed to promote and preserve the work of family farmers and rural lifestyles across the state. In exchange for their annual dues and financial support of education, promotion and lobbying efforts on behalf of agriculture and family farmers, Farm Bureau members are entitled to discounts and access to a number of quality products. The organization serves more than 100,000 member families in 47 chapters and has been around since 1944. Persons interested in supporting agricultural education are encouraged to contact their county Farm Bureau office or the South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation at www.scfb.org for additional information.

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