Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cut to the Chase: Country Girl

Country Girl
By Diane Olson

You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. As a child growing up in a small farming community, I was often envious of my city friends. After-school hours found my brothers and me arriving home to complete daily tasks. My counterparts in town did not have those commitments, and were free to go out and play.

Time puts things into perspective. Years after leaving my rural roots, I realized the valuable life lessons provided by this ‘work-study’ upbringing. I had hands-on experience with farm life and insight into how my food and fiber was produced.

While attending the recent National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, I was reminded of my strong roots in agriculture – roots most other Americans don’t share.

Most students sitting in classrooms across the country are four generations removed from any hands-on experience with production agriculture. Yet, all of them benefit from what agriculture provides each day – food, clothing, shelter, school supplies, medical items, transportation, sports equipment…the list is endless.

The Missouri Farm Bureau Agriculture in the Classroom Program includes a unique online resource for educators and students called Webquest. One of the workshop offerings at this year’s national conference showcased this educational tool. Participants, be it educators, volunteers or program directors learned about this unique approach to helping students understand the important role of agriculture .

This web-based program helps teachers integrate agricultural concepts into their curriculum while making learning fun. This resource is hosted on the Missouri Farm Bureau website Click on Ag in the Classroom to view all the resources and links for classroom use.

If you click on Webquest, you can choose from 51 complete lessons ready for using. Hook the computer up to an interactive whiteboard and you have hours of learning for the students. Each lesson is teacher-created and contains a teacher page, live links to appropriate websites, an evaluation rubric and alignment to both state and national learning standards.

Not everyone can experience agriculture first-hand, but children can learn to appreciate what this important industry provides through Ag in the Classroom. Encouraging educators and families to utilize this resource builds a better understanding of agriculture, the source of food and fiber.

(Diane Olson, of Jefferson City, Mo., is the director of promotion and education for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.)

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