West Des Moines, Iowa – July 7, 2022 – Two Iowa students – a 5th grader from Farley and a 6th grader from Belle Plaine – have been named the winners of the second 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. Twenty 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. 

“This was the second year of this contest,” said Kelly Foss, executive director of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. “We hope that this not only helps inspire young authors, but also helps provide more accurate agriculture books to bookshelves everywhere.” 

Elementary Division Winners

  • 1st Place: Lucille Boge is a 5th grade student at Farley Elementary in Farley, Iowa. She submitted a book titled, The A-Z Book of Fresh Foods from the Farm. Her teacher is Angie Christensen.
  • 2nd Place: Ben Skinner is a 3rd grade student at Peosta Elementary in Peosta, Iowa. He submitted a book titled, How Carrots Grow. His teacher is Angie Christensen.
  • 3rd Place: Claire Schieltz is a 5th grade student at Farley Elementary in Farley, Iowa. She submitted a book titled, The Agriculture ABCs. Her teacher is Angie Christensen. 

Middle School Division Winners

  • 1st Place: Kyla Elliott is a 6th grade at Longfellow Elementary in Belle Plaine, Iowa. She submitted a book titled, Izzy McBride: Escaping the Dust. Her teacher is Sadie Andersen. 
  • 2nd Place: Rachael Weber is a 7th grade student at Drexler Middle School in Farley, Iowa. She submitted a book titled, The Alphabet Around the Farm. Her teacher’s name is Peggy Keegan.
  • 3rd Place: Karina Bloom is a 7th grade student at Sioux Central Middle School in Sioux Rapids, Iowa. She submitted a book titled, Cattle Feed from Start to Finish. Her teacher is Kelly Tate. 

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 and have for their portfolios. Katie Duncan, a student at Wartburg College, will design the first-place elementary book. She is studying art education and studio art. Mira Jung, a student at Iowa State University, will design the first-place middle school book. She is studying for a Master of Fine Arts. 

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 practice them by creating their own fiction or non-fiction story about agriculture or food production. 

The Bushel of Stories student writing competition is funded in part by a Fire-Up Grant from the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization. The purpose of this grant program is to strengthen state programs by funding innovative ideas and proven outreach strategies to increase agricultural literacy among Pre-K-12 teachers and their students.  

Copies of the books will be available to Iowa residents for free upon request once the books are printed. 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.  

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