Seeds of Change: Learning about Agricultural Practices, Economics, and the Importance of Farming Will Go a Long Way in Helping Students Understand One Aspect of Global Interdependence

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Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man.

--George Washington

HAVING grown up on a family farm, there is something endearing to me about those memories of free roaming chickens, pigs cooling themselves in the mud, cows following a wagon loaded with hay, cornstalks rustling in the wind, and fresh apple pie. Farming practices have changed significantly over the past 50 years. Family farms have decreased and agribusiness has increased. New farming techniques have sparked environmental, health, and safety debates. Foods that were once considered seasonal are now available year-round. Grocery stores feature sections of organically grown food and offer more choices from whole grains to special grades of meat. Uses for agricultural products have also changed. In 2006, nearly 18% of the nation's corn crop was used to produce ethanol, a renewable energy source. With agricultural commodities so readily accessible in the U.S., it is easy to forget how the baked ham, green beans, pineapple, and rolls with butter arrive on the dinner plate in some countries, but not in others. Learning about agricultural practices, economics, and the importance of farming will go a long way in helping students understand one aspect of global interdependence. Prepare your students for a trip to a working farm by visiting these websites.

4-H VIRTUAL FARM

Discover daily farming operations by choosing a type of farm to visit virtually. Choices include horse, aquaculture, beef, dairy, poultry, and grain farms. Meet the farmer, learn about the production process, study the vocabulary, and assess your knowledge. A combination of video clips, photographs, text, and games are the instructional tools for teaching basic concepts. This is a wonderful site if you are unable to visit a farm.

AGRICULTURE IN THE CLASSROOM

Each state has an Agriculture in the Classroom program designed to help students understand the role of agriculture in the economy and society. State contacts, websites, and summaries of accomplishments are supplied. In addition, teachers can search or browse an extensive online directory that lists hundreds of educational materials about agriculture--teachers can locate state agricultural profiles and use Science in Your Shopping Cart to teach secondary students about high-tech foods, biotechnology, and careers. Students can access games and learn about issues in the Teen Scene or Kid Zone. This site is a good starting point for preparing curriculum.

BARNYARD PALACE

The North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine has created a website to show students how the school manages dairy and beef cows, horses, poultry, goats, and sheep. Click on the aerial map to view different animal areas at the farm. Learn about the value and care of each animal. Great photographs accompany the information. Select the General Ag and History page for games and more interactive fun. For younger students, download coloring pages from the Down on the Farm Coloring Book (www.agr.state.nc.us/markets/kidstuff/dotf/colbook.htm).

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EDUCATING ABOUT AGRICULTURE

If you are looking for an annotated list of books about agriculture or need to know the date for National Cream Puff Day or International Pickles Week, look no further than the American Farm Bureau Foundation. One of the foundation's goals is to create and distribute high-quality educational materials to improve agricultural literacy. The Teacher's Toolbox features some great graphs to download and print. Finding state agricultural statistics is a mouse click away. The graphs and statistics are ideal for math lessons. Other resources including videos, stickers, and books can be ordered online.

FSA KIDS

Whip up some tasty dishes, color your state, print puzzles for your students to solve, and discover fun food facts. …