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Agricultural News

Ag In The Classroom Connecting with Teachers

Thu, 07 Aug 2014 16:27:51 CDT

Ag In The Classroom Connecting with Teachers

The Ag in the Classroom (AITC) program is connecting thousands of Oklahoma students and teachers to the state's farmers and ranchers. During the school year the program educates student grades K-12 about their food. In the summer months the program works to connect with teachers. Coming up on Saturday's In The Field segment with Ron Hays, AITC Coordinator Dana Bessinger will talk about the program's activities.   Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear her comments.

"We work with educators and besides the three road trips that we have taken with teachers connecting them up close and personal with agriculture and our lesson in resources, we've had a state conference," Bessinger said.   "We did four workshops at Vision 20/20, which is the state department of education state conference."

This summer AITC offered the "The Rolling Classroom" that took a group of teachers out to the country to visit a ranch and feedlot. The Oklahoma Beef Council surveyed participants view points before and after the event to see if the program had a impact.

"We try to dispel some of the misinformation and on those trips they hear the flat out facts and they get to visit with the ranchers," Bessinger said.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry coordinates this popular agricultural literacy program, along with support from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development. The program also receives funding from Farm Credit, Oklahoma Beef Council, Oklahoma Pork Council, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, along with many other commodity groups that provide funding necessary to offer ag education to students and teachers.

The "Meat and Potatoes" of the program is the extensive work that has been done to develop curriculum. Bessinger said they have developed 300 lessons aligned to state standards, so activities can be easily integrated into the classroom. She said this program is making a difference for the state.

"I believe its helping the students of today, voters of tomorrow have a clue from where their food comes from, so whenever they get out there to make voting decisions... they can see I got to have food to eat and Oklahoma farmers and ranchers are providing safe, available, affordable nutritious food and they will make the right decisions as they become adults," Bessinger said.

The Ag in the Classroom (AITC) program is receiving more than statewide acclaim. Oklahoma's AITC Teacher of the Year Lisa Storm was recognized at the national AITC conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania for her exemplary work in promoting agricultural literacy. She is a third-grade teacher at Heritage Elementary in Kingfisher.

Three AITC coordinators from Oklahoma City also attended the conference. Three days of workshops showed kindergarten through 12th grade teachers how to use agriculture to teach core subjects of language arts, science, social studies and health. Oklahoma's AITC coordinators highlighted science and technology in their STEM workshop for 65 educators. They also met with dozens of AITC trainers from other states and compared issues and solutions.

One of the ways Oklahoma's program is making a difference nationally is by contributing unique lessons to the national AITC website. The Action Agriculture Exercise DVD and math lesson "By the Pound" are included on the newly-launched website. Click Here for crafts, recipes, games, songs and all the curriculum lessons offered in Oklahoma's AITC program.   

Be sure to watch Saturday's In the Field segment with Hays and Bessinger on KWTV News9 during the Saturday morning news block around 6:40 am.



Ron Hays Visits with Dana Bessinger on Ag In The Classroom
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