As a Teacher, you know the importance of educating your students. Thanks, in part to you, children and young adults are taught manners and socialization amongst many other skills. You have the ability to shape minds and influence kids to grow up and become knowledgeable and educated adults.
So why should you include AG into your classroom?
Agriculture is one of the most influential industries In the world. Every Country, every Human, every economy relies on Agriculture. Regardless if you're a Vegan or prefer Organic, your life is still heavily dependent on the farmers and ranchers around you for survival. As Teachers you should consider using AG in your curriculum to teach kids where their food comes from, what labels on food mean, how technological advances have increased and enhanced production, how by-products such as insulin and heart valves are provided for modern medicine and how educating yourself on controversial topics means more than googling an article written from a biased viewpoint to form an opinion on your food choices.
You can do this by opening up a discussion with your students. Let students discuss what they know, ask questions about what they don't and give their opinions on what they think. The most important thing is to teach them the difference between fear mongering vs. the truth and how to handle a debate, against someone who's ideas are not the same, with maturity and intelligence.
Another way to include AG into your curriculum is a field trip. Obviously younger children should be exposed to something simple, like when I was small our school visited a cotton gin to learn the basics of cotton, and some schools even take kids to farms that have friendly animals to interact with (The local high school FFA advisor may be willing to allow your class to come tour the school farm). Older kids can be taken to the same places but with a little more complexity in the lesson. This is a great way to have a hands-on experience which is always more memorable and can inspire kids to learn more about AG.
Speaking of, FFA and 4H are both nationally recognized organizations that teach a wide range of skills. From livestock management to welding and plant judging, there are opportunities for every single kid. If they enjoy public speaking, archery or even training service dogs, there is a project for that in one of those organizations. This is a low commitment way for you to introduce your students to AG; let a participating student come in to speak to the class about what they offer or hang up flyers in class and make sure your student's parents' know the opportunities that lead to life-long friendships, real-life skills and even college scholarships.
As an example, I have included a list of just a few ways you can include AG into your lessons. Even the smallest amount can inspire a student and, as an educator, that is your job. More importantly, it opens up their minds to independent thinking and decision making about agriculture. Let's make AG a priority in schools and give kids the chance to learn the truth about the industry! You may be surprised at what your students will accomplish in AG by being an AGvocate and maybe you'll even learn something yourself!
For English classes:
Teaching your kids proper writing and grammar is crucial in today's text-talk society. It is also a great way to encourage kids to write educated, well- researched papers on AG related topics. Have them read parts of books such as "Food Inc" and debate the topics using credible pro- AG sources (FYI- books such as these are known to be biased and fear mongering, so it's also a great way to teach them why their "campaign" shouldn't be believed).
For Spanish classes:
The importance of this language is underrated. It is well known that many farm laborers, especially from my home state of California, are of Hispanic descent and speak limited English, if any. Remind your students the importance of learning to communicate with them by teaching AG related words. This is a great way to teach them respect as well. I am not saying you should get political with immigration laws, but teaching kids human decency is something we should all use and without farm laborers, AG would suffer greatly. This is where a field trip to see what farm laborers do on a daily basis, or even having one come in to speak to them, in Spanish preferably, would be a great opportunity.
For Politics or Government:
Immigration laws and how they would affect AG. Water allocation drama in California. How to get more involved politically as an AG supporter. What laws are trying to be passed in what states.The list could be much longer than this, but the point is that you can throw AG in there somewhere.
Guess what was most shocking about moving from California to Alabama? The fact that hardly anyone knew about the huge, HUGE, AG industry there. Dive into geography more by teaching students what states/countries produce and what each one is most known for as far as crop/animal production. And why their land is a good candidate for that type of agriculture. California shouldn't be most famous for Hollywood when AG is a multi-billion dollar industry in the state alone.
How is local economy influenced by AG? Students can research this and even do a presentation. This opens their eyes to how much their lives are affected by AG.
Farmers rely on formulas to determine how much pesticide they should spray on a field, this is a very important factor because it is costly and illegal to spray incorrect amounts on crops. They also use math to determine grade and weight of seeds as well as budgeting and how to locate a specific area on a field. I'm not a math expert by any means at all, so do what you will with this information in your classroom. I'm just here to throw ideas out to you.
Hope these ideas inspire you to inspire your students, the point is that even though some of these are simple lessons, it gets your class discussing AG in a positive way, we need more of that in today's world where it seems everyone wants to be against the industry that provides so much for humankind