As a member of the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Committee, I recently spent six days in San Antonio for the AFBF Annual Convention. I always look forward to this event and the chance to catch up with folks I haven’t seen since the last convention.
Each year before the convention kicks off; the national committee reads to students at a local school and presents an agriculture lesson. This year, we visited a school in New Braunfels where we paired off in groups of two so we could visit 12 different classrooms and more than 200 children. Many of these kids had never met or even seen a farmer before, so it was a pretty neat experience to tell them that we were the people who grew their hamburgers and milk.
Although many farmers and ranchers encourage ag literacy among adults, it is just as important to take our message to children. One way my state’s Young Farmer and Rancher Committee does this is with our Book Barn project. For the last five years, we have donated red painted bookshelves in the shape of a barn filled with “accurate ag” books to schools and libraries. The Book Barn project has been a huge hit and many county Farm Bureaus have begun buying the barns so every school in their district can have one.
Reading to school children is, perhaps, one of the easiest ways to share our stories as farmers and ranchers. It takes only a few minutes and most teachers are eager to let guest readers come into their classrooms. I encourage you to think about reading to a class (or two or three!) in your own community. If you need help selecting an “accurate ag” book, the American Farm Bureau Foundation has a wonderful searchable database and list of recommended books available online at www.agfoundation.org/bookdb.