CAMP HILL, Pa. — The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) has selected the Community Agricultural Partnership at Summit (CAPS) Elementary School, in Pennsylvania’s Butler Area School District, as the recipient of its 2023 Partnership in Agricultural Literacy (PAL) Award.
CAPS was selected for its innovative effort to use an agricultural focus to expand student learning and meet the needs of the whole child. CAPS is committed to cultivating lifelong learners and informed citizens with respect and appreciation for conservation, agriculture, and the outdoor environment.
The Foundation and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau celebrated CAPS on May 25 in the school’s outdoor classroom.
“Summit (CAPS) has created an environment of agricultural literacy by providing opportunities for students and occasionally their families to be immersed in agriculture throughout the year by incorporating it into the students’ learning throughout the day,” said Chris Hoffman, foundation chairman. Hoffman is a Juniata County hog farmer and president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.
With the support of community partners, the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation, and many others including the county 4-H Extension Educator, Audubon Society, conservation district members, CAPS is working to use agricultural concepts as a pathway to learning. Donated resources, educational presentations, and unique hands-on experiences such as the Mobile Ag Ed Science Lab have helped provide the means for students, teachers, staff, and families to immerse themselves in a world of agriculture, both during the school day and at home.
In order to accomplish this goal, CAPS has taken an aggressive approach to curriculum development and professional learning, offering staff an opportunity to participate in the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation’s Educator’s Ag Institute, both virtually and in person. In addition, building staff have been working to design lessons for their classrooms centered around National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes, utilizing resources and materials made available from NAITCO. These resources have been piloted at the Summit building and will be shared with the other six elementary buildings in the Butler Area School District to ensure all students are introduced to vital agricultural concepts. Grade-level teachers have worked together to develop ag kits for use within the established curriculum, allowing for an agricultural overlay for classroom instruction.
“CAPS is committed to cultivating lifelong learners by providing engaging lessons for students in all content areas. Students are excelling academically and achieving social emotional growth while also developing respect and appreciation for conservations, agriculture and the outdoor environment through the different agricultural components we have available on our campus.” said Chad Broman, the school’s principal.
“This has truly been a partnership, as CAPS has worked with a wide range of community groups, foundations, and others to expand agricultural literacy access. These dedicated individuals have built a program that, with the right leadership and commitment, could be replicated at other schools,” said Charlene Shupp Espenshade, executive director of Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation.
They will be honored at the 2023 NAITCO Conference “Beyond the Beaches” taking place June 26-29 in Orlando, Florida.
–David Varner, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau