Supporting Agricultural Education in Classrooms Across Missouri
February 27, 2023
Written By Adam Buckallew
As the number of American farming families shrinks, the general population’s understanding of agricultural production has declined. The Missouri Farmers Care Foundation is working to address this information gap through its Agriculture Education on the Move™ (AEOTM) program, which builds agriculture and food science literacy in third-grade students.
The program’s curriculum highlights the important journey of food and everyday products grown and raised by Missouri farm families while aligning with key classroom objectives and standards in science, math, reading and writing.
The MFA Oil Foundation has supported this educational effort since 2017 with annual grants of $50,000. The $300,000 investment has helped bring lessons on topics such as plant and animal sciences, soil, nutrition, ag-based careers and more to thousands of Show-Me State students. The curriculum is taught through interactive instruction once a week for about an hour over two-and-a-half months.
The program is free and available to all interested Missouri elementary schools. Participating students receive a workbook and supplies for STEM-related activities designed for the third-grade level. Knowledgeable guest instructors lead 30- to 40-minute interactive presentations that often include a virtual farm tour or video related to the lesson. The final 20 minutes are reserved for hands-on activities such as planting seeds, making butter, calculating food costs and creating feed rations.
“The hands-on aspect of AEOTM is so powerful, as students get to take part in the concepts of agriculture they learn about,” said Heather Fletcher, AEOTM program director. “Whether they’re making corn plastic or identifying parts of a boiled egg before enjoying it as a tasty snack, it’s great to see those light bulb moments when students get to see, taste, touch and feel as part of the learning process. The fact that students have these experiences while building on the science, math and language arts concepts they are already studying makes AEOTM a pretty fantastic addition to any classroom.”
Approximately 450 FFA members attended a 2022 training event at the University of Missouri, where they prepared for their roles as partner educators. Another FFA training opportunity is planned for 2023.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth in the FFA partnership in recent years, and the addition of an in-person training opportunity has enhanced the experience for our FFA partners as they become both advocates for agriculture and teachers in their local communities,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said the goal is to increase AEOTM enrollment to 10,000 students in 2023. She and her team are looking to grow the program participation in all areas of the state to broaden agricultural understanding. To find out how to invite this program into your school or classroom in 2023, visit www.agmoves.com