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Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) is a statewide program that helps K-12 students and teachers develop an awareness and understanding that agriculture is their source of life’s necessities. AITC has a long history of creating resources tied to state education standards to assist teachers in connecting their students to their source of food, fiber, and fuel – agriculture!

Agriculture in the Classroom ® is a program coordinated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In Nebraska, the Agriculture in the Classroom program is managed by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, whose mission is to engage youth, educators, and the general public to promote an understanding of the vital importance of agriculture in the lives of all Nebraskans.

Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom

  • Offers materials to encourage active learning with hands-on activities for youth.
  • Creates instructional materials aligned to Nebraska State Standards.
  • Equips teachers with free programs and resources to bring agriculture alive in the classroom.

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Why Agriculture

Agriculture means survival. In Nebraska, 1 in 4 jobs are related to agriculture. Agriculture provides a rich context for learning about:

  • Nebraska’s Past & Present
  • The Environment
  • Food Production
  • Nutrition
  • Economics

Agricultural Literacy

What is agricultural literacy?

Agricultural Literacy Programs promote an understanding of the connection and value of agriculture in the lives of all people.

An agriculturally literate person understands the relationship between agriculture and the environment, food, fiber and energy, animals, lifestyle, the economy and technology. (Source: American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.

The Importance of Agricultural Literacy

An increased knowledge of agriculture allows individuals to:

  • Make informed personal choices about diet and health.
  • Participate in establishing the policies that support a competitive agricultural industry.
  • Gain an understanding of historical and current economic, social, and environmental issues that affect all Americans.
  • Explore employment opportunities in agriculture.

Pillars of Agricultural Literacy

American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s Pillars of Agricultural Literacy group our agricultural literacy efforts into categories of information. Learning objectives associated with each pillar can be found at www.agfoundation.org/resources/ag-pillars. These learning objectives provide a starting point for planning appropriate activities for each age group, child through adult. Whether it is in the classroom, at a county fair, local festival or on-farm event, consider focusing on just a few objectives.

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National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

To help agriculture be understood by all, the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITC) and the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA- NIFA) created benchmarks related to agricultural literacy and academic achievement. The following National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes (NALO’s) are the themes that contextualize agricultural concepts.

Learn More

Teachers - Get Involved!

Ag Pen Pal Program. Connect with a farmer or rancher by exchanging three letters during the school year. Learn about natural resources, seasons, nutrition, communities, the environment, weather, and the culture of rural Nebraska. The program begins September 1 every year.

Classroom Visits. AITC staff leads customized, hands-on lessons aligned to Nebraska State Education Standards within science, social studies, and language arts for grades K-5 in schools across Nebraska.

Virtual Field Trips. Connect with a farmer via a live, video-chat to see inside the barn doors of a real Nebraska farm. Second and third grade students can visit a pig farm, and fourth and fifth grade students can ride along in the combine and planter on a corn farm.

Teacher Engagement. Customized workshops provide educators opportunities to obtain resources and develop strategies to enhance standard-aligned curriculum within science, social studies, math, and language arts.

Teacher Resources

AgMag. This learning tool introduces new, non-fiction text to support Nebraska fourth grade content area standards for language arts, social studies, and science. 

Camps & Clubs. Find materials to equip after-school programs and summer camps that encourage active learning with hands-on activities for youth in custom programs.

 

Children’s Books. Explore children’s literature books covering interests to children, from birth to adolescence, that reflect reliable information and meet today’s standards of agricultural learning.

Curriculum Matrix. Search this online, standards-based curriculum map for K-12 teachers. Instructional, classroom-ready resources and lessons from all 50 states are included in this matrix.

Lesson Plan Activities. Engage K-12 students in activities that allow students to learn through many of their senses, while aligning to Nebraska State Education Content Standards.

Literature Guides. Each guide introduces a beautiful, imaginative, lively text or picture book and is accompanied by professionally designed curriculum for grades K-5.

Nebraska Interactive Map. This online resource gives third-fifth grade students and educators a more interactive and useful way to understand facts, events, and places that impact our daily lives as they relate to agriculture.

Supplemental Materials. Explore these informative cards, posters, coloring pages and games that are informative across all ages in all educational settings.

Grants & Awards

Agricultural Literacy Grant. Awarded to PreK-8 teachers who have classroom projects that use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and more. Eligible projects include classroom and schoolyard gardens, aquaculture projects, and agricultural literacy programs to name a few.

Field Trip Grants. PreK – 8th grade teachers can apply in January to receive up to $700 in transportation funding to travel to a working farm or ranch.

Teacher of the Year. K-8 grade teachers can apply in October to be recognized for their innovative methods to incorporate agriculture into their classroom. Winners receive an all-expense paid trip to the National Agriculture in the Classroom conference, a book bundle, and a $250 cash prize.

Connect with Us

Courtney SchaardtCourtney Schaardt

Director of Outreach Education courtneys@nefb.org 402-421-4461

Courtney Schaardt joined the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation in 2014. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education- Leadership with minors in Agribusiness and Animal Science.

Courtney directs the foundation’s agricultural literacy programming and serves as the Nebraska State Contact to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Program. She leads curriculum development, teacher engagement, and volunteer training. Courtney serves as an expert source of information on agriculture, food, and natural resources to students, consumers, educators, and curriculum specialists.

Courtney grew up in Table Rock and spent most of her time working in her parent’s custom meat processing plan. She was active in 4-H and FFA which allowed her to spend time on her grandparent’s farm where she raised horses, cattle, and chickens.

Brooke Tempel

Brooke Tempel

Education Specialist brooket@nefb.org

Brooke Tempel joined the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation in 2018. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education- Teaching with minors in Agribusiness, Agricultural Economics, and Horticulture.

Brooke specializes in developing efforts related to agricultural literacy activities at events including fairs, festivals, and classroom presentations. She works in collaboration with the Director of Outreach Education to create agricultural literacy activities and lessons.

Brooke grew up on an acreage west of Seward where she was actively involved in 4-H and FFA. This is where her passion for agriculture grew. She loves working with youth to explore our state’s agricultural industries.