West Des Moines, Iowa – Two Iowa sisters, a 4th grader and a 7th grader, from Charles City have each been named the winner of their respective divisions in the annual Bushel of Stories agriculture writing contest. The contest for Iowa students in grades 3-8 was organized by the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF).  

Elementary and middle school students were challenged to write a story book about agriculture or food. Nineteen student entries were submitted and judged. The top winner in the elementary and middle school categories will have their book designed by Iowa artists and published. 

“In its third year this ag literacy program has inspired more than 115 Iowa students to write and submit agriculture themed stories,” said Kelly Foss, executive director of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. “It’s exciting to see these student-authored stories, created through Iowa’s classrooms, come to life with creative illustration and professional editing. Our hope is to continue to inspire young authors, while providing more accurate agriculture books for young readers on bookshelves everywhere.” 

Elementary Division Winners

  • 1st Place: Lucy Kehret, a 4th grade student in an elementary homeschool program taught by Alissa Kehret, in the Charles City, Iowa school district, submitted a book titled, R.P. The Farm Dog
  • 2nd Place: Eliza Hoy and Artemis Maddox, 4th grade students from Ionia, Iowa, taught by India May, co-authored a book titled, I Don’t Live on a Farm
  • 3rd Place: Madelyn Kehret, a 5th grade student in an elementary homeschool program in the Charles City, Iowa school district, submitted a book titled, Skidder

Middle School Division Winners

  • 1st Place: Sydney Kehret, a 7th grade student in a middle school homeschool program taught by Alissa Kehret, in the Charles City, Iowa school district submitted a book titled, Megg and the Eggstraordinary Egg
  • 2nd Place: Rachael Weber, an 8th grade student taught by Peggy Keegan at Drexler Middle School in Farley, Iowa, submitted a book titled, The County Fair.
  • 3rd Place: Gentry Grantz, a 6th grade student taught by Lisa LeConte at Northeast Central School District in Goose Lake, Iowa, submitted a book titled, Iowa Agriculture Story

First place winners will have their book published and receive a $100 check and a plaque. Second place winners will have their name noted in the winning book, receive $75 and a plaque. Third place winners will have their name noted in the winning book, receive $50 and a plaque. Their teachers will receive a set of either My Family Farm books or Iowa Ag Today publications.  

This contest is also a chance for artists in Iowa to design an agriculturally accurate book for their portfolios. Chloe Safley, a student at Drake University, will design the first-place elementary book. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education, K-12 Art Endorsement, and an Iowa Teaching License in 2022. She is currently studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting with a Graphic Design minor. Dylan Jacobson is an Iowa artist from Nevada, Iowa. He received his Bachelor of Science in Digital Arts and Design from Dakota State University. He is currently on the Teaching Artist Roster for Throughline Arts (Iowa), Nebraska Arts Council, and South Dakota Arts Council where he works with teachers, libraries, and other organizations to incorporate art and storytelling into their programming to encourage students to embrace their inner creativity and expression. He will be designing the first-place middle school book in a graphic novel format, which will be the first graphic novel-style book created by IALF as part of this program.  

Educators who worked with their students through this contest used lesson plans and other resources to guide their students through the writing process. The educator resources that support the contest teach the basics of books, the process of publication, and the writing process. Students learned about features of books including authors, illustrators, fiction vs nonfiction, writing perspectives, the purpose of a story, and analyzed these features in agricultural books. Students learned about how books are written and produced, from the author’s idea to the library. Students learned writing skills and practiced them by creating their own fiction or non-fiction story about agriculture or food production. 

The Bushel of Stories student writing competition is one of dozens of programs produced and directed by IALF, in effort to advance the agriculture literacy efforts across communities in Iowa through agriculture education projects, programs, initiatives, and activities, in collaboration with educators Pre-K through 12th grade.

Digital copies of the books will be available to Iowa educators for free upon request. The Bushel of Stories program has free, accompanying lesson plans available to teachers that will help them integrate the book into language arts lessons. The lesson plans are aligned with Iowa Core standards and easily fit into an approved course of study.  

To learn more and help students participate in future A Bushel of Stories writing contests, visit https://www.iowaagliteracy.org/Tools-Resources/General/For-Students/A-Bushel-of-Stories.  

About the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation
Iowa is the 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. Through Agriculture in the Classroom efforts, IALF engages with teachers and students throughout Iowa. 

IALF is supported by the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, GROWMARK, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Turkey Federation, Corteva Agriscience, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Nutrien, Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area, and others in support of strengthening agriculture literacy among Pre-K through 12th grade teachers and their students. For more information visit IALF online at www.IowaAgLiteracy.org, on Facebook, and Twitter.