ALBANY — State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball and State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, along with more than 30 employees from the Department of Agriculture and Markets, are proud to participate in the 2019 NY Agricultural Literacy Week. Agricultural Literacy Week is a statewide effort to educate students about the importance of agriculture and opportunities for careers in the industry. Beginning next week, volunteers will visit elementary schools, libraries, and Agri-Business Child Development (ABCD) centers across the state to engage with students through literature and hands-on activities.
New York State has one of the longest running and largest Agricultural Literacy Week programs in the country. This year, more than 65,000 students across 61 counties will participate in Agricultural Literacy Week, more than have ever participated before.
Commissioner Ball said, “One of the most important responsibilities we have as an agricultural community is to instill in our young people the understanding and appreciation of how our food is grown and where it comes from. I am heartened to see the tremendous response we have from our fellow State Commissioners, from our Department employees and so many other volunteers from across the State who will head into the classroom this week to share our story. There are so many opportunities in the industry and we hope to educate and inspire our students.”
Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “I really love Agricultural Literacy Week because it provides an opportunity to engage students in a discussion about where the food on their table comes from and the jobs that that help get it there. By reading and talking about the book, we can help young people understand that the agricultural industry in New York is not only growing but also changing and there are lots of exciting opportunities there.”
NY Agricultural Literacy Week is organized by New York Agriculture in the Classroom (NYAITC). Each year, thousands of volunteers visit schools throughout the state to read an agricultural-themed book to first through third graders. Students also benefit from an interactive lesson with volunteers sharing their experiences in agriculture. Teachers are provided with follow up activities to continue these important educational opportunities throughout the school year. All follow up lessons, activities and supplementary materials are aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards.
For the first time, volunteers will also read to children who attend the ABCD centers in Holley, NY, Kingston, NY and Florida, NY. Agri-Business Child Development supports New York State agriculture by providing a comprehensive early childhood education to the children of New York’s farmworkers.
Volunteers will read “On the Farm, At the Market.” This is a unique tale of agriculture with vivid illustrations and a community-centric storyline. The book will help students understand the importance of agriculture as an economic driver in communities across New York and learn about the journey their food takes to get to them. The books are then donated to the school or classroom library.
The Commissioners will be reading to students at the following schools and ABCD centers:
- Milton Terrace Elementary, Ballston Spa
Wednesday, March 20
**Commissioner Reardon’s classroom teacher was the National Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year in 2018
- Schoharie Elementary School, Schoharie
Wednesday, March 20
- ABCD Center, Kingston
Thursday, March 21
To learn more about the program, including previous Agricultural Literacy Week books and NYAITC, visit https://www.agclassroom.org/ny/programs/literacy.cfm.
Expanding Agricultural Education Throughout New York State
Agricultural Literacy Week is part of a larger effort by NYAITC to educate students on food production and to raise awareness of career opportunities in this field. To advance the mission of NYAITC and similar organizations, the State committed a record $3.6 million in the 2017-18 State Budget for agricultural education programs, including a state-of-the-art test kitchen and food science lab. The funding is also being used to expand NYAITC, double the number of certified agricultural educators and add 100 New York Future Farmers of America (NY FFA) chapters across the state.
Significant progress is already being made to accomplish these goals while supporting healthy eating habits and future workforce development among students:
- Approximately 170,000 students reached with New York Agriculture in the Classroom programming.
- Over 2,500 hours of professional development earned by New York State teachers on how to include food and agriculture education in their classrooms.
- 10% increase in new NYS Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters this year, and a 28% increase in new chapters over the last three years.
- FFA membership has increased to more than 4,500 members statewide.
Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, said, “The innovation to support tomorrow’s food and agriculture systems will come from the inspired young minds of today. Agricultural Literacy Week is an ideal opportunity to explore the powerful connection between resilient food systems and the health and well-being of our citizens. Few careers rival agriculture for impact, which yields the satisfaction of providing adequate healthy and delicious food to sustainably feed our population.”
Katie Carpenter, Director of New York Agriculture in the Classroom, said, “Agricultural Literacy Week is a true celebration of agriculture and education. I feel very proud that so many people in multiple facets of the agriculture industry feel compelled to volunteer their time to increase the agricultural literacy of students in their communities. Through the classroom experience, we hope that our New York students are better able to understand and communicate the source and value of agriculture in their daily lives.”
Derek Hill, New York FFA Director, said, “NY FFA is proud to support NYAITC and the Agricultural Literacy Week program. This is a great way to introduce elementary students to the agricultural industry. We are excited that many of our local FFA chapters choose to participate in this program as volunteer readers or as coordinators. The more we do to help educate and inspire students to discover the many opportunities that are available within agriculture, will support a bright future for the industry. NY FFA is proud to do its part by not only supporting NYAITC but by supporting local school district as many have realized the importance of agriculture and have started new Agricultural Education and FFA programs.”
About New York Agriculture in the Classroom
Established in 1985, New York Agriculture in the Classroom (NYAITC) is a partnership of Cornell University, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, the NYS Education Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the New York Farm Bureau.
Its mission is to foster awareness, understanding, and appreciation of how food and fiber are produced, what we eat and how we live, by helping educators, students, and their communities learn about and engage with agriculture and food systems.
Learn more at https://www.agclassroom.org/ny.
–NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
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