Ag In The Classroom Celebrates 3 Decades

Kansas Foundation for Ag in the Classroom grew from challenge to first program in nation to be non-profit foundation.

Published on: Sep 30, 2013

The Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom is celebrating three decades of providing agricultural education to the youth of the state.

It all began 30 years ago when Barbara Meyer, a representative from Kansas Farm Bureau attended a meeting in Lincoln, Neb., where she was challenged by former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture John Block to form a chapter of Ag in the Classroom in Kansas. She returned home and invited influential leaders in Kansas agriculture to form a committee that grew into the foundation that exists today.

"After the committee was established, we thought it would be a good idea to be a not-for-profit foundation," Meyer said. "We did, and we were the first ag in the classroom program in the nation to become a foundation."

"We are not interested in making farmers out of everyone or getting everyone back on the farm," former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture John Block says of KFAC. "We simply want a nation of people who understand the significance of agriculture – who appreciate the impact that its food, fiber and forestry have on their lives."
"We are not interested in making farmers out of everyone or getting everyone back on the farm," former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture John Block says of KFAC. "We simply want a nation of people who understand the significance of agriculture – who appreciate the impact that its food, fiber and forestry have on their lives."

Incorporation under Kansas law came in July 1983, which allowed the Foundation to legally accept contributions from individuals and companies that may be deducted from the donor's tax liability.

Shortly after, in 1985, KFAC held its first summer graduate course for Kansas teachers, marking KFAC's commitment to providing teachers with agricultural experiences, credible resources and standards-based, hands-on lesson plans.

Program provides supplemental ag education

KFAC does not add to the school curriculum, but provides supplemental education to help teachers. Block explains the mission this way: "We are not interested in making farmers out of everyone or getting everyone back on the farm. We simply want a nation of people who understand the significance of agriculture – who appreciate the impact that its food, fiber and forestry have on their lives."

The summer courses KFAC has offered throughout the years have resulted in numerous teacher-created lesson plans. KFAC has also created in-depth background pieces for teachers to utilize in their classrooms.

During its first three decades, KFAC developed four educator guides, Exploring Kansas Farm Animals for first grade, Exploring Kansas Crops for third grade, Exploring Kansas Natural Resources targeting fifth grade, and the new Exploring Plants: Kansas Crops also targeting third grade. The recently completed Exploring Plants guide, which replaces the earlier Exploring Kansas Crops guide, features 38 Kansas crops and several new units.

The educator's guides and their corresponding student magazines, Kansas Kids Connection, are available at no charge to Kansas educators (small fee for postage). Other educational outreach programs include in-service training, the Teacher of the Year Award and an annual art contest. KFAC, in cooperation with Kansas State University and Friends University, also offers summer courses to educators.

KFAC also offers a series of Be Ag-Wise workshops for educators and volunteers working in classrooms across the state as a joint project with the Kansas Farm Bureau. Information on these and other KFAC activities, as well as resource order forms, lesson plans, and other educational materials, is available on the website, www.ksagclassroom.org. All KFAC materials align with State of Kansas curriculum standards.

Watch this space and check your monthly Kansas Farmer magazine for more information on the KFAC effort to help teachers help Kansas students know more about where their food comes from.