The story about agriculture, in Florida and across the nation, is a great story. It’s a story worth telling — a story with sharing with people of all ages and from all walks of life. I’m among those who think it’s important to get out the good word about agriculture to our children — if for no other reason than to help them understand that food doesn’t originate at the grocery store.
I like and appreciate the fine work the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), Florida Agriculture in the Classroom (FAITC), the Florida Farm Bureau (FFB), and other organizations are doing to teach kids about “all things ag.” The FDACS has many educational programs, most of which are focused on kids. The FFB offers several resources to help children learn more about agriculture and to help the educators who teach them. Over at Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, the name of the not-for-profit organization kind of says it all.
Florida Department of Agriculture.
An online visit to freshfromflorida.com/Education will introduce you to programs For the Community, For Educators, For Parents and Students, and For Researchers. Among the programs for students, “Planet Ag” offers ideas for ag-based science fair projects. “After all,” the section reads, “agriculture is science — the science of growing plants, breeding animals, and producing other food products.” The FDACS also offers information about starting school gardens — tools for outdoor science and environmental education — and planning for careers in agriculture.
Florida Agriculture in the Classroom.
The mission of FAITC (faitc.org) is “To increase agricultural literacy through K-12 education in Florida.” The organization is funded by sales of the specialty license plate known as the Ag Tag. Among the FAITC’s resources are “Gardening for Nutrition,” a guide for Florida educators who want to teach health, science, language arts, math, and more using a school garden; and “STEMming Up Gardening,” a guide to integrating science, technology, engineering, and math into a school garden.
Florida Farm Bureau
The Florida Farm Bureau (floridafarmbureau.org/education-outreach) often collaborates with FAITC, and bureau volunteers participate in Ag Literacy Day, an interactive reading exercise for students. In addition, the bureau sponsors an annual speech contest for older students to help them get a better understanding of and appreciation for agriculture. To find out what resources are available for teachers in your community, contact your local county farm bureau. To learn about opportunities for ag-based volunteering in the schools, contact your local school district office.
BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing agency with five locations in Polk, Hillsborough, and DeSoto counties. You can visit his Agritourism/Ranching operation at www.DH-LR.com. A cattle rancher, citrus grower, and former member of the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges, concerns, and importance of today’s farmer. Together we can Keep Florida Growing!