Volunteers to connect students with agriculture

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2022

As younger generations of Virginians grow up removed from the farm, connecting children to agriculture has never been more important.

For the 12th year, Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) will celebrate Agriculture Literacy Week March 14-18, and volunteers will read Tales of the Dairy Godmother: Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish by Viola Butler to children in their communities.

Agriculture Literacy Week is Virginia AITC’s largest educational event, with approximately 2,000 volunteers reading to 60,000 children statewide. To date, more than 22,000 agriculture-related books have been placed in classrooms, and more than 15,000 volunteers have read to about half a million children.

The event is one of numerous initiatives Virginia AITC utilizes to help students and educators gain a greater awareness and understanding of agriculture.

“During Agriculture Literacy Week, volunteer readers from across the state help our youth learn about the sources of their food, make connections with local farms and agribusinesses and discover the importance of agriculture in their daily lives,” said Tammy Maxey, programs director for Virginia AITC.

“This special week grows in popularity each year among classes and volunteers, and often features fun bonus activities like interacting with farm animals or making ice cream in class.”

In addition to reading activities, volunteers often share with students what their agricultural occupations entail through show-and-tell exercises. This includes farmers bringing in items such as calf-feeding bottles, poultry waterers or photos.

Children also are encouraged to quiz guests about their jobs to learn more about their daily activities.

“These presentations provide a wonderful opportunity to increase interest among children of how food and other goods are produced, and to meet the men and women who ensure we are fed and clothed,” Maxey added.

Volunteers include members from Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s Women’s Leadership and Young Farmers committees, FFA and 4-H participants and partners from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and other state agencies.

Other agricultural businesses and organizations such as Colonial Farm Credit, Farm Credit of the Virginias and Southern States Cooperative Inc. are supporters of the annual event.

This year’s sponsors include The Dairy Alliance and Virginia-based creameries Homestead Creamery and Moo Thru.

To learn more about Agriculture Literacy Week and how to support Virginia AITC, visit virginia.agclassroom.org.