HOWARD, Pa. — Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding visited Howard Elementary School in Centre County to celebrate Ag Literacy Week. There, he encouraged students to think about where their food comes from and to explore careers in agriculture as he read Katie Olthoff’s My Family’s Soybean Farm and Phyllis Root’s Anywhere Farm to kindergarten, first- and second-grade students.
“Agriculture influences our lives every day. It provides us with the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and many of the products we use each day,” said Redding. “Ag Literacy Week helps students make that connection. It fosters an early appreciation for agriculture and the farmers and food workers who ensure food reaches tables across the commonwealth and the world. It also encourages students to consider opportunities in agriculture, growing the next generation of agriculturalists.”
Deputy Secretary Fred Strathmeyer, Western Region Coordinator Mark Critz, and Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence Stephon Fitzpatrick will read to students in Tioga, Westmoreland and Philadelphia counties later in the week. They join agriculture leaders celebrating Ag Literacy Week throughout the commonwealth, which aims to raise student awareness of the value of agriculture to society. The week is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture FoundationOpens In A New Window and the Pennsylvania Farm BureauOpens In A New Window.
“We are pleased Secretary Redding has chosen to participate in Ag Literacy Week, a program created by our charitable organization, the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation,” said PA Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert. “The program encourages farmers and agriculture officials to read a book to young students during school visits, helping them gain a better understanding about how farmers care for their land and animals and the role farmers play in producing the food they eat.”
Engaging Pennsylvania’s youngest students and peaking early interest in careers available after graduation is part of the Wolf Administration’s workforce development strategy, and a key element in the governor’s PA Farm Bill Farm to School Grant program.
The Pennsylvania Farm to School Grant program provides schools with funding to improve access to healthy, local foods and increases agriculture education opportunities for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. The program aims to bridge the gap between children and the food system by connecting them to the fresh, healthy food available from Pennsylvania agricultural producers in their community and the surrounding areas.
Howard Elementary School, part of Bald Eagle Area School District, is one of more than 130 PA Farm to School Grant recipients. The school district used Farm to School dollars to grow their elementary agriculture, food and nutrition classroom curriculum and expand fresh food offerings through their hydroponics program.
To learn more about Ag Literacy Week and the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation’s educational programs, visit pfbfriends.com.
More information about the Wolf Administration’s commitment to growing agriculture education opportunities is available at agriculture.pa.gov.
–Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture