By Mary Dunckel, Michigan State University Extension
National Ag Week, March 17-23, and National Ag Day, Tuesday March 19, may be right around the corner, but there is still time to plan a commemorative activity in your community. Organized by the Agriculture Council of America (ACA) 40 years ago, the goals of the national program include helping every American:
•understand how food, fiber and renewable resource products are produced
•value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy
•appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products
•acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and renewable resource industry
The ACA is a nonprofit organization that dedicates its efforts to increasing the public's awareness of agriculture's vital role in our society. The council's primary initiative is to conduct the National Ag Day Program which occurs in March of every year. The council has a whole host of materials available to help individuals and communities recognize and celebrate agriculture. The National Ag Day website, is loaded with event ideas, planning tips, sample timelines, checklists, media resources, agriculture facts and more.
The Alpena County Michigan State University Extension is putting these tools to use and partnering with the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan to showcase agriculture's past, present and future. With the national theme of 'Generations Feeding Generations', our local museum in Alpena seemed like the perfect place and partner for this year's celebration. The March 23 event will feature an agricultural film series, educational learning stations, activities for youth and an interesting historical exhibit. With consumers being two, maybe three generations removed from the farm, and less than one percent of the population living on farms, our intent is to provide an experience that recognizes the past contributions of agriculture and celebrates the present.
Ways to get involved and share the passion for agriculture might include: writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper describing the impact of agriculture in your community; volunteer to read a book about agriculture
at a local school or daycare facility; invite legislators or other community decision makers to your farm or agribusiness for a first-hand look at modern agriculture; invite your neighbors to the farm for an ice cream sundae; ask your local library to display agriculture related books, resources and art.