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‘Farmer for a Day’ project earns Van Buren national kudos

Van Buren County’s Farmer for a Day event flipped the Project RED script by taking interactive ag education directly to schools.
Date Posted: October 12, 2023

Mere state-level recognition just wasn’t enough for the Van Buren County Farm Bureau, whose Farmer for a Day program has now earned it national-level honors from the American Farm Bureau Federation. 

AFBF’s Leadership, Education & Engagement Department recently announced its 2023 County Awards of Excellence, with the sole Michigan award going to…You guessed it:

Van Buren’s Promotion & Education team last spring conducted Farmer for a Day events at two local elementary schools, answering those schools’ direct requests for an agricultural learning experience.

Outside each building, volunteers set up five education stations: farm equipment (tractors, combines, etc.); livestock (cows, poultry, ponies, etc.); pollinators (bees); blueberries; and a make-n-take station where students made farm charms to take home.

Altogether some 900 students, grades K-5, and 50 teachers rotated through the stations, learning about Michigan agriculture from real-life farmers manning them. At day’s end teachers got gift bags including topical Ag Mags for follow-up classroom lessons.

Farmer for a Day was innovative in that Farm Bureau went to the school, eliminating the need for the bussing traditional Projects RED require. Time outside the classroom was spent directly engaged in learning, not traveling to a remote facility. The on-site model was beneficial for all and made it possible to keep the program concise and efficient for educators, students and volunteers alike.

Van Buren engaged almost 20 volunteers between the two events, including eight uninvolved or non-members who took home their own lesson in the value of the organization and membership in it.

Farmer for a Day educated both students and their teachers about where food comes from, advancing Farm Bureau’s goal of connecting with consumers and spreading the good word about Michigan agriculture.

As one of only 24 national County Activities of Excellence (CAE) winners — selected from 151 entries — Van Buren earns the opportunity to showcase its innovative program at the 2024 American Farm Bureau Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

The program previously earned Van Buren state-level recognition in the Grassroots category of this year’s Champions of Excellence honors, recognizing achievement in innovative member-involvement activities.

Sarah Pion headshot

Sarah Pion

Southwest Advanced Regional Manager
[email protected]