Council Bluffs, Iowa, – Jan. 11, 2021 – Members of the West Pottawattamie Co. Farm Bureau have recently approved another $10,000 donation to Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom (LHAITC). This donation will support in-classroom programming, educational support, and teacher professional development. Funding for (LHAITC) began in 2018 and has helped ensure the continued success of agricultural programing for students in Council Bluffs and in the surrounding areas.
Even before LHAITC hired Melanie Bruck, full-time education program coordinator, West Pottawattamie Co. Farm Bureau was helping students learn about where their food with Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) programs. Sherri Olsen, West Pottawattamie Co. Farm Bureau office administrator headed up the AITC efforts for years and established numerous connections with teachers in the area. She has been able to visit K-3rd grade classroom including those of some of her grandchildren. Since 2018, in addition to her role as office administrator, she has continued to present to classrooms in collaboration with the Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom program efforts. Both Olsen and Bruck conduct programs in classrooms, at agriculture safety days, at the county fair and LHAITC offers virtual programs as well.
“This has been a very good program for the kids” says Adam Sudmann, member of the West Pottawattamie Co. Farm Bureau. “It is import to us to continue funding LHAITC so that the next generation can know about and experience agriculture.”
Last summer, Olsen helped student make seed germination necklaces at Westfair. Students learned what a seed needs to germinate. Materials included a plastic bag on a long piece of yarn, Orbeez, or wet cotton balls and a seed. One high school student in particular was impacted by the event.
“I still have my necklace and I’m waiting for it to sprout,” the student told Olsen as she was leaving the fairgrounds.
Schools that the LHAITC programs and West Pottawattamie Co. Farm Bureau work with include the Council Bluffs Community School District, Lewis Central Community School Districts, St. Albert Catholic School District, Treynor Community School District, Tri-Center Community School District, and the Underwood Community School District.
“I am pleased to be able to work with Sherri and the Farm Bureau as we reach out to students who would otherwise have no exposure to agriculture,” says Bruck.
Due to COVID-19, in person programs are limited but LHAITC is still making a difference. Tri-Center elementary students had the opportunity to learn about Christmas tree farms. Branches and pinecones were delivered to the school beforehand and Bruck then connected virtually from her farm’s windbreak made up of Blue Spruce trees. She talked about animals that would live on a Christmas tree farm and students learn the triangle shaped trees are called evergreens because their needles stay green year-round. Students used magnifying glasses during class time to explore the branches and the square-shaped needles
As part of this past year’s programming, LHAITC has conducted 177 programs impacting 3,423 students - 1,381 of those from school districts in Pottawattamie Co. Virtual programs were also conducted and reached nearly 10,000 viewers. Agriculture in the Classroom strives to increase agricultural literacy through Pre-K-12 education. An agriculturally literate person is defined as one who understands and can communicate the source and value of agriculture as it affects quality of life. LHAITC 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, LHAITC cultivates an understanding and appreciation of the food and fiber system that we rely on every day.
For more information, please visit www.IowaAgLiteracy.org.
About Loess Hills Agriculture in the ClassroomLoess 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.". 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.