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If you have an elementary-age child and are interested in getting Ag in the Classroom started in your school, contact Allison Kepner at akepner@vitaplus.com.


“We have learned about cows, pigs, corn and seeds. But this is the coolest thing we’ve done so far!” said Sofia, a fifth-grader in the class. While the kids played with their Gluep (some made jewelry, some made animal figures and others experimented with the funny noises their Gluep made), the instructors finished up with a fun review quiz where the kids shouted out, “True” or “False” “I absolutely love it when these guys come in,” added Torgerson. “Not only are the kids learning, but I’m learning too!” The demand from teachers for Ag in the Classroom is growing. “The kids must talk about Ag in the Classroom to all of their friends in other classes, because the other teachers are asking me how I got involved, or how my class got chosen. I just replied to an email!” The email Torgerson is referring to is the email that Allison Kepner sends out. Kepner is the Ag in the Classroom coordinator for the Dane County Farm Bureau. “Every school year I reach out to the principals in Dane County and ask them to extend my invitation for an Ag in the Classroom lesson to their 4th and 5th grade teachers,” said Kepner Why is agriculture education important? “Simply knowing where your food comes from is extremely important,” concluded Arneson. “It’s essential to know that there is a human element to all of the food you eat. SOMEBODY produced it. They worked the field, planted the seed, watched it grow, and harvested it. There are a lot of critics of agriculture out there. We are just trying to spread the word of how hard farmers work in order to provide us with a safe, quality and affordable product.”


students in helping them learn more about agriculture, where their food comes from, and potential agricultural careers.” According to the Ag in the Classroom website, there are only 50 Ag in the Classroom committees in Wisconsin. In 2011, they reached a total of 46,293 students. They do this by giving in-classroom presentations, hosting farm tours, and putting on Farm Education & Safety Day at county fairgrounds, as well as in nearly 40 other ways. In Dane County alone, five school districts have been reached. With the help of agriculture-based lesson plans, volunteers come to the classroom anywhere from one to five times a semester and teach elementary students something new about agriculture. In March, a group of University of Wisconsin-Madison students attended the Crestwood Elementary School in Madison and presented an Ag in the Classroom lesson plan. The lesson plan was all about polymers (groups of molecules that are all linked together). To help demonstrate what a polymer was to the class, the instructors made Gluep. Gluep is a Silly Puddy-like substance made from glue, borax and water. Together, the class saw a physical reaction when all three ingredients were combined. “It’s really nice to have these students come in and teach the class,” said Erin Torgerson, a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Crestwood Elementary. “It’s refreshing to the kids to have someone else teach them the material other than me, who they have to listen to all day.” In the past, the UW-Madison students talked with the fourth and fifth-grade students about corn and livestock.


Agriculture is Coming to a Classroom Near You By: Abbey Wethal

Where does our food come from? Do you know? You know it doesn’t just magically appear on the shelves, but what do children think? It seems like many kids today don’t know where their food comes from, and they don’t care. “Since the 1940s, agriculture education has been on the decline, and every generation is one more generation removed from the farm,” said Darlene Arneson, the Ag in the Classroom Coordinator for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. “That’s why Ag in the Classroom was started in 1981.” Ag in the Classroom originally began in Washington D.C. at a national Farm Bureau conference. A group of agriculture educators were concerned about the decreasing education. It came to Wisconsin in 1983. Agriculture educators and volunteers from around the state gathered to review existing ag-related teaching resources. Then, they specifically reached out to fourth and fifth-grade students to teach them basic, yet essential information about agricultural related topics. “Basically, we try to help educate students, teachers and volunteers about agriculture,” said Arneson. “It’s a great way to reach the non-farm public and especially


Ag in the Classroom