MORRISVILLE, N.Y. — While agriculture is a key industry in Madison County, the aging farming population and industry economic down-turn calls for increased attention to the education of our local youth about the importance of agriculture and associated career opportunities. Recognizing this need, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County launched a pilot Cornell in the Classroom project in 2018 and it was met with much enthusiasm from teachers and county legislators. Schools in the county have been placing renewed emphasis on Ag Education at the high school level yet we know that elementary classrooms are a key place to engage and inspire youth in content areas and future career paths.
Thanks to the generous donations of $5,000 from Green Empire Farms, $2,000 from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/New York Foundation Grant, $250 from the Hamilton Community Chest, we are able to continue to provide materials and supplies to support interactions with these elementary age youth. These donations and funds have allowed us to purchase materials to create lessons that not only engage, but also inspire future agricultural exploration. This year alone Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County’s 4-H Youth Development Program will be providing over 300 lessons in support of more than 700 Madison County youth!
As students continue to receive virtual instruction and socially distance in our NY schools, we must continue to find ways to connect them to hands-on agricultural education. This year’s programming goes beyond our current agricultural literacy efforts by adding a 4-H focused hands-on learning component to our new virtually tailored lessons for 3rd and 4th grade participants. All our current Cornell in the Classroom school districts have expressed a desire to continue our agricultural programming the 2020/2021 academic year, but most districts have requested their lessons be delivered virtually as per COVID-19 safety protocols. To accommodate each district’s unique needs, we are providing kits and books prior to lessons to ensure a more interactive and memorable experience for our youth participants. These kits will ensure we continue to meet the diverse needs of our Madison County schools regardless of their choice of in-person or virtual programming.
Our primary goal is to increase agricultural literacy in K-12 education through teaching where our food comes from and introducing them to the benefits and opportunities in the agricultural industry. An agriculturally literate person is defined as “one who understands and can communicate the source and value of agriculture as it affects quality of life.” We seek to improve student achievement by applying authentic, agricultural-based content as the context to teach core curriculum concepts in science, social studies, language arts, and nutrition. Cornell in the Classroom cultivates an understanding and appreciation of the food and fiber system that we all rely on every day. By completing each monthly project, youth learn the different career opportunities that are available in the agricultural industry, learn the connections that bring food from fields to forks, and develop an understanding of the connections between agriculture, science, and economics. The value of the information learned is immeasurable.
4-H Fun: “What do you call cattle with a sense of humor? Laughing stock!
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