By Elizabeth Esparza, Communications Intern
Food and agriculture education is a core element of farm to school and is vital to developing comprehensive and impactful farm to school programs. The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) and its member state programs, such as the Healthy Communities of the Capital Area (HCCA) in Maine, provide K-12 teachers with educational resources and programs that use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and more.
Education is a priority area for farm to school, making NAITCO and HCCA natural and ideal partners for increasing farm to school efforts at both the national and state level. The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization is a national nonprofit aimed at working in K-12 education to increase agricultural literacy, the ability to understand and communicate the source and value of agriculture as it affects our quality of life. They work with agriculture programs in most of the 50 states and D.C. to provide resources and standards-based lesson plans and activities. In 2017 alone, NAITCO reached 7.3 million students and 118,000 teachers in K-12, and uses their state partnerships and national conference to demonstrate agriculture related lessons to K-12 classroom teachers from around the US.
Florida Agriculture in the Classroom (FAITC), in partnership with the Florida Nutrition and Wellness Program works to increase agriculture education by holding teacher workshops together throughout the state.FAITC demonstrates K-12 lessons and activities, while FNW’s Chef Paula talks about food and garden harvest, safety, and demonstrates simple recipes that teachers can prepare in the classroom. Together, the two organizations partner to hold a statewide recipe contest to further promote each groups’ programs and increase agricultural education throughout Florida.
Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC), a part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, works to promote the understanding of agriculture and natural resources among students, educators, and the general public. MAITC works closely with Maine Farm to School Network (MFSN) to further increase the reach of the resources, trainings, and conferences available to teachers. MAITC offers grant support to teachers for a broad range of farm to school activities, which provide teachers with training and resources to help start and maintain school gardens, bring agriculture activities to their classrooms, and attend conferences
In addition to helping educators attend the MFSN conference, MAITC works to increase access to resources that enhance farm to school activities in their classrooms and schools. The Read ME Ag program enlists volunteers to read a new book written each year about Maine agriculture.
To learn more about the opportunities and benefits of partnerships between agriculture in the classroom and farm to school, watch a recording of our May 2019 Trending Topics Webinar: Farm to School and National Agriculture in the Classroom.