Persia, Iowa, – May 8th, 2020 – Melanie Bruck looks out her home office window and sees a tractor pass by pulling a feed wagon. The cows are bellowing loudly. It is feeding time. It is also almost time to begin class. She is about to conduct a virtual lesson from her farm with Underwood Elementary. She has brought lessons on agriculture to almost 10,000 students, but never from her computer before.

With the onset of COVID-19 and schools closing their doors it looked like the school year was over, but as the education program coordinator for Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom, Bruck, reached out to teachers she had worked with in the past and programs were scheduled. Lessons like, Caring for Chickens, Conservation Nation, and A Day Without Agriculture will be taught to Underwood 4th graders, IKM-Manning 2nd graders, and Logan-Magnolia 1st graders.

“Learning about agriculture can happen anywhere,” says Bruck. “In a classroom, on a farm, in a grocery store, or even in your own home in front of a computer monitor.” 

Students join their teacher’s online meeting, like they have been for the past month, and Bruck logged on as well. After an introduction from the teacher, the lesson was conducted just as it would be in a classroom. First, Bruck read the My Family’s Egg Farm book by sharing her screen with students and walking them through the digital copy, page by page. Next, she  presented visuals for the lesson. She showed the students the five-week-old chickens as well as their feeder and waterer.

“We add nutrients to the water to make sure the chicks do not develop deficiencies. That is why it is not clear and appears brownish,” says Bruck.

She showed pictures of different breeds of chicken and answered students questions.

Fourth grade teacher, Jeni Sondag says, “Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom provides students with real life experiences and meets standards in different subject areas as well as 21st Century Skills. Melanie Bruck does an excellent job providing students with hands-on, real life experiences. With a large variety of different classes, there is an opportunity to reach all learners. I highly recommend Agriculture in the Classroom.”

While nothing can replace in classroom programs with hands on activities, Bruck and the students make the best of it and continue learning about agriculture together.

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About Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom

Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom is a regional effort of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF) established August of 2018. It serves school districts in five counties in southwest Iowa including Carroll Co., Crawford Co., Harrison Co., Shelby Co., and West Pottawattamie Co. The IALF mission is to educate Iowans, with a focus on youth, regarding the breadth and global significance of agriculture. IALF serves as a central resource for educators and volunteers who want to teach Iowa's students about agriculture. As leading producer of agricultural products, it is important for all Iowans to understand the essential role agriculture has in their lives. 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, on Facebook, and Twitter.