By: Samantha Ludlam
Agriculture teachers help students become entrepreneurs and agriculturalists who will help shape the future of agriculture through development of skills, problem solving, and experiential learning.
On September 20, National Teach Ag Day celebrates these teachers and encourages students to consider a career in agricultural education. In honor of this celebration, Michigan Farm Bureau is highlighting the eight Michigan FFA Chapters which received the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture’s #SpeakAgMichigan award in 2018.
This award is given to chapters engaged in agricultural education and outreach activities in their communities. Winning chapters set clear goals and worked with partnering organizations and teachers to deliver dynamic learning experiences for youth and adults. The 2018 #SpeakAgMichigan application deadline is December 1, 2018.
Ubly County FFA Chapter was selected as the third place chapter for their elementary March is Reading Month and gardening outreach.
Q: What does receiving the #SpeakAgMichigan award mean to you and your students?
In our community, there is a need for elementary students to be exposed to agriculture and have hands-on experiences in life science. Agriculture is all around us; the students see it every day but don’t always connect what they see to the food they eat. The reading and gardening activities allow students in K-6 grade to learn about healthy eating choices as well as plant life cycles. This also helps the high school FFA students consider techniques for educating others about agriculture.
Q: What are your chapter’s goals for increasing your community’s understanding of agriculture?
Our first goal was to create a partnership with all elementary school classes. To do this we needed to involve at least 25 FFA members and build relationships with elementary teachers. This helped us understand elementary students’ needs to better plan our program. We also partnered with the elementary librarian to purchase accurate books about agriculture for use in our lessons and to leave in the library.
Q: What will your program do with the funds from the #SpeakAgMichigan award?
In 2017 we started a community garden and incorporated this garden into our elementary lessons. With our award funds from 2018, we will expand this garden and to begin a pumpkin growing contest with the elementary students at the community garden.
Q: What does the support of organizations like Michigan Farm Bureau mean to your program?
Through partnerships with our FFA Alumni, Farm Bureau members and local businesses we were able to access the knowledge of current agriculture industry professionals which exposes our students to many career options. Also, these partnerships have allowed our award dollars to go farther by offering us at cost or discounts on the supplies for this and other projects. By partnering with these organizations we are involving the community in the school and helping students to build connections that may lead to future employment.
The #SpeakAgricultureMichigan awards are presented by Michigan Farm Bureau with financial support from the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture. The Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, a 501(c)(3) governed by Michigan Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors, positively contributes to the future of Michigan agriculture through leadership and educational programming.