FOREST CITY, Pa. — Susquehanna County is known for its strong roots in agriculture. That’s why it’s so important for us to educate our youth and inspire them to discover the world of agriculture all around them. Susquehanna County Dairy promoters like me use Ag Literacy week to reach out to these young students.
Ag Literacy Week is a program of Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation supported by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau which educates children in kindergarten, first and second grade with a fun story and a game. This year’s story was Right This Very Minute by Lisl H. Detlefsen, a farm-to-table book about food and farming. Throughout the week of March 18-22, Ag Literacy week was celebrated across Pennsylvania.
In our county alone, eight schools will be visited. That’s 71 different classrooms and over 1,600 students. Agriculture is important to our county so why wouldn’t we want to promote and educate our youth about it.
Agriculture is the practice of farming and can be broken up into different subdivisions such as livestock and horticulture. Livestock and horticulture can then be divided into other categories such as dairy, beef, pork and produce. So, what do all these different categories have in common? They all have the same goal in mind, to preserve, protect and care for all the animals and land that they have.
Farmers work every day of every year doing all they can to achieve this goal, and they need our support. Without our farmers, fields would grow uncontrollable weeds, animals would become sick and our land would lose its caregivers. Without our farmers we wouldn’t have the beautiful rolling hills and endless mountains that we all love.
Through Ag Literacy Week we can teach young students about the importance of Agriculture. We read a story to the students and had the students ask us questions if they didn’t understand a concept in the story. For example, in this year’s story the author mentions crop rotation schedules which most students have never heard of, so we explained to them what they are and how they affect the crops grown in those fields.
In every class, we encourage students to ask questions during our visit so they have a better understanding of where their food comes from. During the activity, we had them match the picture of what a farmer might be doing “Right this very minute” to the food pictured on the plate (i.e. orange juice would be matched to the picture of farmers tending to an orange grove). The students really enjoyed the game as well as having us visit, and we all enjoyed teaching them about agriculture. At the end of the visit we gave the teacher the book to keep along with learning center cards, so they could incorporate the story into their lesson plans.
As a Susquehanna County Dairy Ambassador, I see firsthand how important dairy farming is in our community. Without our dairy farmers we wouldn’t have our fresh, delicious milk that we enjoy. Milk is important for the proper growth and brain development of children. Milk also has nine essential vitamins and nutrients that are needed for healthy bone development. Milk can then be made into other delicious products such as yogurt, cheese and ice cream. Dairy products are a healthy and delicious part of every balanced diet. Throughout our classroom visits we explained to the students why it’s important to include these healthy vitamins and nutrients into their own diets.
As you can see farming and agriculture are important to not only our county, but to our country as well. We need farmers everyday of our lives to provide us with food and other useful products. Susquehanna County has many farms and farmers that provide us with locally sourced products, and we should support them. That’s why it’s important to continue Ag Literacy week in our local schools, so we can teach these young students to appreciate and respect our hardworking farmers and their local farms.
— Elizabeth Chidester, Dairy Ambassador
Susquehanna County Dairy Promotion