Alabama educators had the chance to become students of agriculture at the Ag In The Classroom (AITC) Summer Institute in Prattville June 1-3.
Kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers from across the state attended workshops and farm tours at EAT South, an urban farm in downtown Montgomery; Petals from the Past, a garden supplier in Jemison; and the Chilton County Research and Extension Center.
Peggie Montgomery, a second-grade teacher at Foley Elementary, said she will use what she learned at AITC to educate her students about agriculture in a school garden.
“It’s important for the kids to see the different variables responsible for making plants grow,” Montgomery said. “I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge here to share with my students.”
During an AITC panel discussion, teachers questioned farmers about biotechnology, animal feed and care, food labeling and weed control.
Bobbie Bankston, a first-grade teacher at Glenwood School in Smiths Station, said she didn’t realize agriculture was so broad.
“Our students often aren’t exposed to where their food comes from,” Bankston said. “Now that I have curriculum materials to take back with me, I can engage them in hands-on activities to educate them about the different aspects of this industry.”
A craft workshop also helped teachers learn classroom activities that educate students about agriculture.
The Alabama Farmers Federation sponsors AITC with funding primarily from the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation’s ag tag sales. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries and state agriculture organizations also support AITC.
“This institute provides teachers with tools and curricula that are ag based and help teach history, science, math and reading,” said Federation Women’s Leadership Director Kim Ramsey, who is AITC state committee chairman. “It’s exciting to have attendees see farms, some of them for the first time, and be able to take back information to share in their classrooms.”
In addition to what they learned at the institute, teachers earned professional development hours and took home hundreds of dollars in classroom supplies.
For more information about AITC or the summer institute visit alabamaaitc.org.