Commentary: With schools closed, kids can LearnAboutAg@Home

Issue Date: April 15, 2020
By Judy Culbertson
Judy Culbertson
Through its LearnAboutAg@Home program, the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom provides daily educational activities for teachers and parents to share with students.

Just as farmers, ranchers and their employees have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps taken to combat it, so have students, parents and teachers, as schools throughout California canceled classes and learning moved from the classroom to the home. The team at the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom is pitching in to help, through an initiative called LearnAboutAg@Home.

This campaign is a fun, exciting way to bring agricultural ag-tivities from the classroom into the home. With more teachers providing digital classroom instruction and parents needing high-quality educational activities while at home, LearnAboutAg@Home was developed—a social media campaign to continue teaching about a part of the economy deemed "essential" during the pandemic.

The project stemmed from a conversation with Ag in the Classroom Board Member Becca Whitman, senior manager of community relations for the Raley's supermarket company.

Becca was teaching her two sons while working from home on a Friday morning because their school was closed—a challenge parents throughout the country are facing each day.

We learned of her frustration and started the LearnAboutAg@Home campaign. Our first post was shared on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter the very next Monday morning. Our goal is that through ag-tivities shared on our social media platforms, students throughout California will continue to learn how and where their food comes from.

"In this ever-changing landscape where remotely working parents have instantly become home-school teachers, we can relax a bit knowing there is a ton of amazing resources at LearnAboutAg.org," Becca said. "The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom has free resources online, all the time, and is here to help. And parents can feel good about using these lessons because everything lines up with California Content Standards."

The posts feature fun and educational information, such as: Did you know that cattle curl their tongues around grass instead of biting it? Or, that one serving of strawberries contains 140% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C?

The team at Ag in the Classroom recognizes that each school district is operating differently, but we hope LearnAboutAg@Home will help students continue to LearnAboutAg! We hope teachers will be inspired to use the lessons to share with their students digitally, that the lessons will be helpful for parents trying to navigate this new dynamic, or even provide fun ag-tivities for neighbors to LearnAboutAg. Teachers can stockpile the lessons for when they meet back with their students in their classrooms next fall.

Each day at 10 a.m., the Ag in the Classroom team shares via social media educational ag-tivities that can be enjoyed at home. Ag-tivities have ranged from making butter to a Water Cycle in a Cup lesson and everything in between. Importantly, the ag-tivities are not just for elementary students, but learners of all grade levels.

One of the most popular posts featured one of the CFAITC Ag-Bites— bite-sized activities that align to California Content Standards and can be done with many items found around the house. This particular Ag-Bite, Ice Cream in a Bag, explores the science of ice cream by studying the chemistry of ice, salt and exothermic reactions—processes that give off heat. At the end of the ag-tivity, students get to enjoy their ice cream—does learning get any better? This post in particular has reached more than 12,500 people with nearly 80 shares.

Ag in the Classroom has had a great response to LearnAboutAg@Home and has been able to share the work offered by other organizations, such as the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization and the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. Ag in the Classroom has also used this opportunity to connect with community partners such as the California Beef Council. CFAITC shared its "Beef Up Your Math" activity, and partnered on promotion with the team at the Beef Council to reach an even bigger audience.

Food is something everyone can relate to, and LearnAboutAg@Home is a fun and realistic, real-life way to incorporate agriculture into everyday life with an approach that students, parents and everyone at any age can appreciate.

As we have long known, agriculture fits into every subject area, and LearnAboutAg@Home provides a hands-on way for students to learn. If you or someone you know has also suddenly become a home-school teacher the last few weeks, please follow or share our website address to teach your students and neighbors about the essential value of California agriculture.

You can find the LearnAboutAg@Home ag-tivities at https://learnaboutagathome.wordpress.com.

(Judy Culbertson is executive director of the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. She may be contacted at Judy@LearnAboutAg.org.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.




Special Reports

Features

Series

Special Issues

Special Sections