by Heather Lang
Well, the time has come to pack up the summer floaties, put away the campers and start packing the kids’ school backpacks, lunches and minds. Right this very minute you might be rolling your eyes at me for talking about back to school. August is back-to-school month, but it is also Kids Eat Right Month, Peach Month, Sandwich Month, along with Catfish Month and Get Acquainted with Kiwifruit Month. Plus, the first full week of August is Farmers Market Week.
There is a national holiday for just about everything, however agriculture is one that gets highlighted in great detail. “Why?” you might ask. Because agriculture touches every aspect of your lives, not just the food you eat.
Here is a short back-to-school list of supplies that are made possible because of agriculture.
1. Tree farms are essential in providing us with products such as pencils, paper and even Kleenexes.
2. Art supplies - Some crayons are made with soybean oil, paintbrushes contain pig hair or cattle hair as the bristles, pig by-products are used to make chalk and glue, plus soy byproducts are found in many cleaning agents that we use to clean up the art room.
3. Cotton – every kid enjoys picking out some new clothes for the school year. We can thank the cotton farmers for growing the cotton for your jeans, many t-shirts and even your gym tops.
4. Lanolin from sheep can be found in your hand lotions and their wool makes up your warm sweater, hats, gloves or even your scarves.
5. Ethanol from corn is used in your gas for your cars and soy biodiesel is used in your school buses.
Education is important to everyone’s future. Education makes you think, grow, explore and imagine. Agriculture education is a passion I enjoy sharing with children and organizations throughout the year. When I go into classrooms, I read an accurate ag book to the students (which they get to keep in their school library afterwards), followed by a short lesson plan and ending with an activity.
Right This Very Minute by Lisl H. Detlefsen is a table to farm book about food and farming that is super easy reading for the kids to follow along with. This summer, I gave a guided farm tour to a group of moms and their young children who were eager to learn and see for themselves where their food comes from. They got to enjoy a wagon ride being pulled by one of our John Deere tractors, be up close and interacting with the animals, see our original farm homestead from 1906 and finish off the day with me reading Right This Very Minute on our lawn while indulging in a light snack.
Educating doesn’t have to be sitting in a classroom waiting for the time to go by, it can be so much more!