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June 22, 2012   Email to Friend 

TEACHERS TAKE TO THE FIELDS AT AG IN THE CLASSROOM INSTITUTE
Mary Johnson
334-235-1406
June 22, 2012

Margaret Elementary School teacher pose in a field of corn at the Lazenby Farms in Auburn during the 2012 Alabama Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute. Educators from across the state participated in the three-day conference, learning new ways to integrate agriculture lessons into their classrooms. From left are Christi Thompson, Katie Hopson and Sue Wood.
OPELIKA, Ala. Educators from across the state converged in Opelika to learn new and innovative ways to incorporate agriculture in their classrooms. The Alabama Ag in the Classroom (AITC) Summer Institute for K-6 teachers and administrators took place June 12-14 at the Grand National Marriott.

Jennifer Walker, a kindergarten teacher at Sweet Water High School in Marengo County, said she was surprised by the number of commodities grown in Alabama, and said she is excited to teach her students the importance of agriculture.

“Children these days don’t understand where things come from,” Walker said. “They just assume things come from the grocery store. They don’t know it takes a lot of work and effort from many, many people. I think they need to understand more than just momma bought it and I eat it or wear it.”

Along with conference seminars, participants spent a day visiting local farms in Auburn and agriculture centers at Auburn University.

Randle Farms provided an example of a Community Supported Agriculture program. The Randles supply seasonal fruits and vegetables to patrons each week for a yearly fee. Attendees walked the grounds, munching fresh-picked blueberries and carrots as sheep grazed nearby.

A stop at Lazenby Farms exposed educators to a row-crop farm with an agritourism element. The pavilion offers a site for family gatherings, birthday parties and weddings. In October, the site becomes an autumn wonderland with a pumpkin patch, corn maze and hayrides.

Other tour stops included the Southeastern Raptor Center, the Horticulture Department and the Fisheries Department at Auburn University’s Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.

Teachers will have a running start on incorporating agriculture in their classrooms next year. They left the institute armed with farming books, lesson plans, DVDs and other educational resources.

Faucett Vestavia Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jacqueline Hope said the entire experience was valuable.

“It has been so enlightening, and it is something authentic that I never would have gotten back sitting in the classroom,” Hope said.


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