Harlan, Iowa – March 5th, 2021 – Bringing farmers and kids together is one of the ways that Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom (LHAITC) is celebrating the month of March, a month dedicated to reading across Iowa. 

Agriculture literacy programs are gaining more recognition as LHAITC serves five counties and over 21 school districts. Education program coordinator, Melanie Bruck realized this was the time to call on the Farm Bureau volunteers.

“My goal was to reach one school in each county with one read aloud program to be held on March the 1st,” said Bruck. “Boy was I surprised – and impressed – when 27 teachers and activity leaders signed up for programming.”

Bruck connected and paired farmers and Farm Bureau members with teachers and classes. Jeremy Stangl of Crawford Co. Farm Bureau, Shellene Feld of Carroll Co. Farm Bureau, Mike and Kara Dickinson, and Richard Bruck of Harrison Co. Farm Bureau, Mike Fara and Jerod Johnson of Shelby Co. Farm Bureau, and Luke Stamp and Erik Pedersen of West Pott. Co. Farm Bureau all volunteered to read to students. Bruck selected books for each grade level or had volunteers bring books they’ve shared with their own children. PreK-4th grade students spent time Monday listening to farmers read, as well as read along with My Family Farm books. Second, third, and fourth grade students each got copies of the corresponding book that was read.

Luke Stamp read the book Right This Very Minute to the first-grade classes at Tri-Center Community Schools. First grade teacher Wendy Matson (who was also Stamp’s first grade teacher) said, “count me in for next year!”

Read aloud events are planned throughout the LHAITC region for the rest of March. Library afterschool activities, read along video links, Clover Kids 4-H club meetings, Virtual Story Times, FarmChat® virtual classroom programs, and virtual tours and read alouds from the Bruck cattle farm will all take place this month.

“Getting a chance to meet a real farmer is a unique opportunity for students,” said Bruck. “Listening to them read a book about agriculture and being allowed to ask questions made for a very interactive day. The farmers told me they enjoyed it as much as the students.”

Read Across Iowa is organized as a collaborative effort between the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa 4-H, and the Iowa State Education Association. Some books and materials were provided by generous donations and grants from Dollar General, GROWMARK, the National Education Association, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and other partners of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. For more information, please visit www.IowaAgLiteracy.org.

About Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom

Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom (LHAITC) is a regional effort of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF). The inception of LHAITC was led by Carroll Co. Farm Bureau, Crawford Co. Farm Bureau, Harrison Co. Farm Bureau, Shelby Co. Farm Bureau, and West Pottawattamie Co. Farm Bureau and serves school districts in those counties. The mission of Agriculture in the Classroom is to "increase agricultural literacy through PK-12 education." An agriculturally literate person is "one who understands and can communicate the source and value of agriculture as it affects quality of life." AITC programs seek to improve student achievement by applying authentic, agricultural-based content as the context to teach core curriculum concepts in science, social studies, language arts and nutrition. By embedding agriculture into curriculum, AITC cultivates an understanding and appreciation of the food and fiber system that we rely on every day. AITC is unique within the agricultural education community as the lead organization to serve the full spectrum of PK-12 formal education.  For more information visit IALF online at www.IowaAgLiteracy.org, on Facebook, and Twitter.