The Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom program combines the efforts of the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Commodity Groups, Illinois Agriculture Education Programs, University Extension, and other agribusinesses to help infuse agriculture into the curriculum of students across the state. It was founded in 1981 as USDA Secretary John Block and the Reagan administration realized that fewer and fewer people were familiar with the sources of their food and fiber.
The goal of the Ag (Agriculture) in the Classroom (AITC) program is to use agriculture as a springboard to help teachers teach science, math, social studies, and language arts. There is an AITC program in every state and a national website provides broad-scale information. One way to help infuse agriculture into existing classroom curriculum is to find great pieces of literature that help showcase the ‘farm to plate’ scenarios that exist all around us.
A great example of this is the newly released The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen by Diana Pritchard. Although cows don’t show up in our kitchens, the rich vocabulary used in the book makes for an excellent comparison with the Illinois AITC Ag Mags, four-color tabloids related to specific agricultural commodities. These Ag Mags (available to teachers across the state of Illinois at no charge) provide teachers with a non-fiction resource to pair with fiction resources to allow students to gain a better understanding of agriculture related topics.
The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen is currently finding its way into classrooms and libraries across the state of Illinois thanks to generous benefactors that are placing the books in celebration of National Ag Day on March 25!
Illinois AITC has a rich tradition of finding outstanding sources of literature to showcase agriculture and develops lesson plans related to these sources. The current companion guide for The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen is called A Bowlful of Agriculture and features all things breakfast. The lessons and activities are correlated to Common Core State Standards and can be found here.
The Illinois AITC Program is excited to work with Little Pickle Press, and looks forward to more books featuring the stories of food and fiber, because just like Patrick O’Shanahan, as you wake up in your flannel pajamas (cotton), and enjoy a nice French toast breakfast (wheat, eggs, milk), and drive to work in a flex fuel vehicle (corn), you certainly can’t have a day without agriculture!
Learn more about how the Illinois AITC Program reaches teachers and students across Illinois on Facebook at Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom!
Kevin Daugherty became Illinois Farm Bureau Education Manager in April 2000. In that role he is responsible for the IFB Board’s Expansion Plan for Agriculture in the Classroom. He was named Education Director June 1, 2009
Kevin came to Illinois Farm Bureau following 10 years as a classroom teacher and work as a marketing and implementation specialist for an educational materials publishing company. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from the University of Illinois and a Masters in Technology with focus on human resources and training from Eastern Illinois University. He and his wife, Katherine (Senior Marketing Research Analyst for GROWMARK), and their three children live in LeRoy, where he is active in church and serves as President of the LeRoy School Board.