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June 21, 2011   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
June 21, 2011

Lawrence County farmer Brian Glenn, left, talks to Ceil Sikes, headmaster of Pike Liberal Arts School in Troy and Ulanda Washington of South Dale Middle School in Pinckard who were among the 76 educators who toured his farm as part of the Alabama Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute.
FLORENCE, Ala. -- Teachers turned into students as they stepped off the bus at the farm of Brian and Don Glenn in Lawrence County as part of the annual Alabama Agriculture in the Classroom Summer Institute, June 15-17. The teachers were willing to learn, and the Glenns were eager to share their story.

"People remember their granddaddy's farm, maybe, and the things they did then were so much smaller that most people don't understand the scope and size of what we're dealing with," said Brian. "The public doesn't realize what we do and even though we're busy, it's important that we take time to explain it to groups like this. We need the voice of the general public to understand what we do. There are so many regulations and so many demands that are placed on us by folks in Washington who have never seen a farm that we need the public, especially teachers, to see what we're all about."

Don agreed, adding that there are too many groups today who are painting an incorrect picture of production agriculture, especially from an environmental point of view.

"We're trying to do the right things and for the right reasons," Don said. "We have to get our message out to the general public and what better way to do it than through the teachers who are teaching in the classroom?"

The teachers who attended the institute say they can't wait to get back to the classroom and share what they've learned. "This entire program is superior to any workshop I've ever attended," said second-grade teacher Lydia Davis of Indian Valley Elementary School in Sylacauga. "I've been absolutely wowed. The impact it has had on me is phenomenal. Going to the farms was wonderful. When I saw the seed, the tractor and the soil and then saw the pride in the farmer's eye as he showed us what he did, it was so impactful. I can't wait to share it with my students."

Sherene Langham of Hazelwood School in Town Creek said the institute was unlike any workshop she's ever attended.

"I've learned about the food chain and how we can use agriculture to teach all across the curriculum," she said. "We can use agriculture to teach math, science, social studies, reading comprehension -- everything! And they gave us the tools to do it with. It couldn't be much easier than that."

In addition to Glenn Farms, teachers toured Jack-O-Lantern Farms, Servico Cotton Gin, the Music Hall of Fame and Ivy Green, the childhood home of Helen Keller. They also heard from ag literacy expert Betty Wolanyk and participated in several workshops where agriculture was the focus of hand-made crafts students could make in the classroom.

The 76 teachers who graduated from the summer institute left the three-day workshop loaded down with supplies that included books, DVDs and classroom materials. The AITC program is funded largely from support of the Farming Feeds Alabama ag tags. For more information about the program, visit Alabama Ag In The Classroom

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