News Ag in the Classroom Inspires Educators

Ag in the Classroom Inspires Educators

Ag in the Classroom Inspires Educators
June 20, 2024 |

By Jeff Helms

When classes begin in August, teachers from Alabama Christian Academy in Montgomery will be geared up to implement ideas gleaned during the Ag in the Classroom (AITC) Summer Institute June 12-14.

“We’ve already been texting our principal and telling him what we want to do,” said fourth-grade teacher Suzy Weed. “We would love to start out small and bring some chickens to the school. We all signed up for (The Dairy Alliance) Adopt-A-Cow program, too.”

Weed’s enthusiasm was shared by 75 educators who gathered in Tuscaloosa for workshops and tours focused on integrating lessons about food, farming and forestry with core curricula.

Andrea Riley, a kindergarten teacher at Grantswood Community School in Jefferson County, said diversifying the education experience is more important than ever. 

“We have to do so much math and reading that agriculture is getting left out; science is getting left out; history is getting left out,” she said. “But if you can develop some sort of outdoor classroom, you can cover all the standards.”

It was Riley’s second year to attend the AITC event. She spoke to fellow teachers about her class’s Rise and Shine honey project.

“In my classroom, we have bees, chickens and a small garden,” she said. “They are starting a new program at the Helen Keller School in Talladega and came for a visit. They wanted to see how littles can do beekeeping. I was explaining how you can integrate lessons about bees into your classroom no matter the age of your students.”

Other workshops included George Washington Carver’s agricultural research; robotics; All About Dairy Cows; Wise Weeds; make-and-take crafts; and a brain break exercise led by the Alabama Extension SNAP-Ed team. 

Barbour County’s Michelle Puckett was among Extension agents who attended the conference. 

“Being a SNAP-Ed agent, part of my job is to connect people with their food, so I do a lot of work in grocery stores, food pantries and with Farm to School,” she said. “There are so many areas I can connect farming to my job.”

A highlight of AITC’s summer event was a tour with stops at the Tuscaloosa County School System Agriscience Teaching Farm, Drury Catfish and Cattle Farms in Greensboro and Griffin Farms, an agritourism destination in West Blocton. 

Wallace Drury said the tour was well worth the farmers’ time. 

“We owe it to them,” he said. “If they are going to teach about the things we do, we can take a little bit of time to show our appreciation for what they do. We want kids to know where their food is coming from.”

While in Greensboro, the teachers heard from a farmer panel including Alabama Farmers Federation State Women’s Leadership Committee members Monica Carroll of Dale County, Lisa Lake of Cullman County and Debbie Miller of Mobile County. They were joined by Hale County farmers Townsend Kyser and Tommy Martin. 

Hale County’s Townsend Kyser and Mobile County’s Debbie Miller were two of the farmers who participated in the farmer panel Day 2.

Federation Women’s Leadership Division Director and Alabama AITC Chair Kim Earwood said she heard multiple teachers say this year’s Summer Institute was the best ever.  

“Being in west Alabama for the Alabama Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute was phenomenal,” she said. “Educators were able to not only hear but also see how many hats are worn on a daily basis by Alabama farmers. We are thrilled so many teachers, Extension staff as well as Soil and Water Conservation district coordinators were able to participate.”

As the teachers headed back to school, they left equipped with totes full of books and educator guides valued at $400 each. Twenty door prize winners also got incubators and scopes to begin hatching eggs at their schools, while 20 more got farm-related games.

Weed said the resources will be put to good use. 

“It has been amazing. I’m so glad I signed up and was selected to attend,” she said. “We have a lot to take back to our classrooms.”

For more information about Ag in the Classroom, visit

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