FLORENCE — Paige Starnes of Newberry County was among 49 educators from across South Carolina who recently learned how to bring agriculture into their classrooms.
The South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation (SCFB) hosted its annual Ag in the Classroom Summer Teacher Institute June 18-22 in Florence, where teachers of grades pre-K through eighth grade in public and private schools learned the importance of family farms and farmers and how to teach agricultural lesson to their students.
“The Ag in the Classroom program has many benefits because we can educate teachers about the importance of agriculture, and those teachers are then going to take that back to their own classrooms of sometimes thirty students. The overall outreach of the program is unmatched,” said Harry Ott, SCFB president.
In addition to instruction about their learning and teaching styles, participants heard from agriculture and education experts from Clemson University’s College Relations/Ag Careers Department, Department of Animal and Veterinary Science, the S.C. Ag Statistics Department, and the S.C. Department of Agriculture. Participants also experienced two days of farm tours in the Pee Dee, including Clemson University’s Pee Dee Research and Education Center, the Inland Port in Dillon, the South Carolina Cotton Museum and industrial hemp, row crop and beef farms.
“It is so important that students learn where their food and resources come from,” said Stephanie Sox, director of Promotion and Education for SCFB. “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. I never cease to be amazed at the positive agricultural impact this course makes in the lives of teachers from across the state during this one week. Teachers leave with a greater understanding of and appreciation for agriculture and those who grow their food, fiber and shelter.”
Ag in the Classroom Institute participants received 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 earned three hours of graduate credit for re-certification from Winthrop University, courtesy of SCFB’s Ag in the Classroom Fund. Along with a 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.
“If agriculture is to maintain its status as South Carolina’s largest business sector – providing more than 212,000 jobs and nearly a $42 billion impact on South Carolina’s economy – we’ve got to help people understand the link between their food and fiber and the farm,” said Ott. “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 2018 SCFB Ag in the Classroom Summer Teacher Institute was funded through support from the S.C. Ag in the Classroom Fund, S.C. Farm Bureau Federation, S.C. Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, the Dairy Alliance, S.C. Beef Council, S.C. Soybean Board, S.C. Peanut Board, S.C. Advocates for Agriculture, Amick Farms, S.C. Pork Board, Blue Ridge Electric Co-op, Newberry Electric Co-op, ArborOne Farm Credit, Scoular, First Citizens Bank and S.C. Greenhouse Growers Association.