By Marlee Moore
Library collections across Alabama grew by one sweet, farm friendly illustrated book this winter as local Women’s Leadership Committees (WLC) delivered copies of “I Love Strawberries” by Shannon Anderson.
Alabama Ag In The Classroom (AITC) and the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation provided the brightly colored books and corresponding educator guides for public and elementary school libraries in each county. Similar book donations have occurred throughout the last decade.
“The specific act of delivering the book shows that we’re willing to come in, meet the kids and go the extra mile, instead of relying only on teachers and adding to their workload,” said Henry County WLC Co-chair Gracie Woodall. “You also get to see the little people you will be educating. It’s exciting for them.”
“I Love Strawberries” uses a series of easy-to-read diary entries to chronicle young protagonist Jolie’s journey to grow her own food.
The book delivery was one of the first events for Woodall, Co-chair Olivia Shelley and their growing list of members in the newly re-formed committee. It’s Henry County’s first active WLC in decades.
The energetic committee’s work is already impacting their communities.
“A lot of our members have young kids,” Woodall said. “We’re really pushing AITC and ag literacy because that’s something our committee members want their kids to understand. They feel like their kids are directly impacted when we push agriculture and help educate their teachers and fellow students.”
Over in Clarke County, Marie Slade has led the local WLC for more than 20 years. The longtime advocate said she enjoys paging through the accurate agriculture book produced by Feeding Minds Press.
“We need to get the word out to people about where our food comes from and let them know it doesn’t come from a grocery store,” Slade said. “Someone has to grow that food.”
Slade’s delivery to one local school coincided with story time — a lucky happenstance, she said.
“I got to talk to the students about the book and where our food comes from,” she said. “It’s a well-written book, and the pink cover pops. We think the children will enjoy hearing it during story time.”
WLCs organize other outreach opportunities through the year, including Farm-City celebrations, cooking competitions and sewing contests. Farm-to-school connections are formed through coloring book donations, field trips and story hour in classrooms.
A chance meeting with the principal at Abbeville Christian Academy while dropping off “I Love Strawberries” gave Henry County’s WLC an inroad to ag literacy efforts. This spring, the group plans to visit the school, teach lessons and help students plant strawberries. Summer camp attendees will taste the fruits of that labor later this year.
“Some kids may grow up on a farm, but not everyone is a farm kid,” Woodall said. “No matter what we do, I want us to be a voice for farmers and help teach children about agriculture.”
To learn more about AITC and WLCs, contact Kim Earwood of the Alabama Farmers Federation Women’s Leadership Division by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.