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January 23, 2009   Email to Friend 

TEACHERS SOUGHT FOR AITC SUMMER INSTITUTE
Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
January 23, 2009

Madison County farmer Dennis Bragg, right, talks to teachers about his wheat harvest during the 2008 Alabama Ag in the Classroom summer conference in Huntsville. The conference included workshops, seminars and farm tours.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Applications are being accepted until April 15 for the annual Alabama Ag in the Classroom (AITC) Summer Institute, a grassroots program coordinated by the United States Department of Agriculture that arms teachers with materials and strategies to increase student knowledge of agriculture.

Set for June 16-18 at the Marriott at Capitol Hill in Prattville, the workshop will include activities for kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers and field trips to several area farms. The activities incorporate language arts, science, social studies and math skills.

"AITC provides educators with exciting ways to incorporate agriculture into their daily classroom activities while also teaching their students where their food and fiber comes from," said AITC Chairman Kim Earwood. "The curriculum uses books and hands-on activities that teachers can carry back to their classrooms."

Educating teachers about agriculture, Alabama's largest industry, is important for several reasons, Earwood said.

"There was a time when most children in Alabama grew up on a farm. But today fewer children are raised in a rural setting and many really don't understand how important farms are to their daily lives," she said. "Agriculture is part of our state and nation's history, and it's definitely part of our future as we look for ways to feed a hungry world and find renewable fuels."

The oohs and ahs, smiles and laughter from teachers who participated in the institute last summer were a sure sign they enjoyed learning about agriculture.

Workshops included hands-on activities teachers can do with their students like making butter, chemical reactions used to make glue and arts and crafts projects used to demonstrate the water cycle and how plants grow.

Nettie Edwards of Summerdale School in Baldwin County was among those who attended last year's institute in Huntsville. She said it was the best teacher program she had ever attended.

"It isn't a workshop where you listen to someone talk for 90 minutes; it's really hands-on," she said. "The highlight of the meeting for me was going to the fields and actually watching the farmers work. We take for granted what farmers do for us. I can incorporate so much of what I've learned here into the curriculum for my classroom for reading, language arts, science and social studies.

"I won't complain about the price of food any more. I appreciate farmers for everything they do. I just didn't realize all that they do to help us," she added.

The Institute will be limited to 95 educators, and applicants will be selected on the basis of an application form provided by the AITC Planning Committee. It is available online at www.AlabamaAITC.org.

Roundtrip mileage to the workshop, lodging, meals and workshop materials will be furnished. For more information, contact Kim Earwood, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation's Women's Division and AITC chairman, at (334) 612-5370 or email KEarwood@AlfaFarmers.org.

Applications should be sent to: Amy Belcher, Alabama Ag in the Classroom, P.O. Box 3336, Montgomery, AL 36109-0336 or faxed to (334) 240-7169.




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