West Des Moines, Iowa – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig, presented the Agricultural Leader Awards during the annual Agriculture Leaders Dinner held at the FFA Enrichment Center on Tuesday, March 21. The Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) network, including the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF), was presented the award for Leadership in Agriculture Education.

AITC, which is part of a nationwide network, educates Iowa Pre-K through 12th grade students about all aspects of agriculture through math, science, social studies, and language arts subjects they’re already learning about in classrooms. IALF serves as the state contact and central resource for the National Agriculture in the Classroom effort.

“As a leading producer of agricultural products, it’s important for all Iowans to understand the essential role agriculture has in their lives,” said Kelly Foss, executive director of IALF. “Agriculture in the Classroom relies on a network of volunteers and organizations, like Farm Bureau, who share a vested interest in helping students and their communities learn about agriculture.”

IALF and the AITC network provide teachers with educational resources that are aligned to core standards they can easily implement in their classrooms. Students are also exposed to agriculture through Ag Days, STEM Festivals, and other community events throughout the year in an effort to educate them about agriculture and its importance in their everyday lives. It’s estimated that the AITC network of professionals and volunteers reach nearly 160,000 students and 3,000 teachers annually across hundreds of Iowa schools. 

“Every day, we interact with thousands of food and industrial products that come from agriculture. The work our county Agriculture in the Classroom coordinators and volunteers do locally helps students understand that everything comes from agriculture,” said Marty Schwager, executive director of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. “Not just the delicious foods they eat, but the jeans they wear, and even their favorite candy…all of it is only possible with the important work that farmers do for all of us.”

IALF and the AITC network believe agricultural literacy is critical to the agricultural industry and by extension to the Iowa economy. Helping students and adults understand where their food, fiber, and fuel come from and how it is important in their daily lives is vital.  

“I know I speak on behalf of all the Agriculture in the Classroom professionals and volunteers when I say we are honored to receive this award,” said Foss. “Our network has worked tirelessly to bring agriculture into as many local classroom programs as we possibly can. It’s wonderful when you see students light up with those ‘aha’ moments when they really see how agriculture is connected to them. Our hope is that they also see a future for themselves in agriculture through the hundreds of careers available to them.” 

Watch the Ag Leader Video issued by the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.  

About Agriculture in the Classroom
Agriculture in the Classroom was created in the early 1980s as a way to re-integrate agriculture knowledge through education programs starting first with our youngest students and continuing through high school. IALF serves as the Iowa state contact and affiliate member of the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization. To find a local Ag in the Classroom contact in your area, visit the IALF website or contact your local county Farm Bureau or Iowa State University Extension office. 

About the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation
IALF serves as a central resource for educators and volunteers who want to teach Iowa’s students about agriculture. The mission is to educate Iowans, with a focus on youth, regarding the breadth and global significance of agriculture. Iowa is a leading producer of agricultural products that are essential to feed a growing world population, estimated to reach more than nine billion by 2050. IALF believes it is important for all Iowans to understand the essential role agriculture has in their lives. IALF will support existing agriculture education efforts such as FFA, 4-H and Ag in the Classroom. IALF was created through a joint effort of agricultural stakeholders, including the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area, Corteva Agriscience, GROWMARK, and the Iowa Beef Industry Council. For more information visit IALF online at www.IowaAgLiteracy.org, on Facebook, and Twitter