Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Education Deputy Secretary for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries Glenn R. Miller kicked off Ag Literacy Week, March 15-19, across the state last week with virtual readings for elementary classrooms.
Redding read to students at York City School District’s Jackson School, while Miller read to students at Arthur Street Elementary School in Hazleton, Luzerne County.
“With the majority of children today three to four generations removed from living and working on farms, we must provide that connection for the next generation,” Redding said. “Attracting future generations of the skilled workers our industry needs begins with introducing our youngest students to the people of agriculture and the work they do every day to feed our families and our economy.”
Redding and Miller shared stories about behind the scenes on a dairy farm to learn how we get milk used to make ice cream, in Viola Butler’s book, “Tales of the Dairy Godmother — Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish.” The book shows students the hard work farmers do each day to produce our food and how that food gets from the farm to their tables.
Leaders nationwide are celebrating the annual event, sponsored in Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. The week aims to raise student awareness of the value of agriculture to society.
Getting Young Minds Interested in Ag
Engaging Pennsylvania’s youngest students, and piquing early interest in careers available after graduation is part of the Wolf Administration’s workforce development strategy, and a key element in the governor’s PA Farm Bill Farm to School Grant Program.
The Pennsylvania Farm to School Grant Program will provide schools with funding to improve access to healthy, local foods and increase agriculture education opportunities for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. The program aims to bridge the gap between children and the food system by connecting them to the fresh, healthy food available from Pennsylvania agricultural producers in their community and the surrounding areas.
“You don’t have to live near a farm to discover how it runs — books help share the stories, inviting readers to explore agriculture and learn more about the important role it plays in our lives,” said Miller. “Ag Literacy Week creates opportunities for students to visit farms without leaving their physical or virtual classrooms and make connections to careers in the agriculture industry at an early age.”
For more information about Ag Literacy Week, including ways to become a volunteer, visit the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau website. For more about Pennsylvania’s strategies to sustain the agriculture industry and educate future leaders, visit agriculture.pa.gov and education.pa.gov.