Ag in the Classroom grant deadline looms
BY KAREN SCHWALLER
SPIRIT LAKE – It’s no secret that many Iowa families today are two or three generations removed from the family farm resulting in a growing number of Iowans don’t really know the sources of their food.
It’s one fact that prompted the Iowa Farm Bureau to create a grant program to help teachers teach about agriculture in the classroom.
“Ag in the Classroom” is a supplemental grant program. Teachers can apply for up to $200 in grant funding for programs that promote agricultural literacy and awareness.
“This is the fourth year of the program, and we’ve given out about $120,000 in that time,” said Mark Bohner, regional manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau. “It’s been a very good program for the state.
“There is about $40,000 overall available for these grants.”
Bohner said educators have used the dollars to buy books about agriculture for school or classroom libraries, pre-school educators have used it to purchase farm toys for their young students, and science teachers have purchased equipment to create greenhouses.
Some northwest Iowa educators have used the money to secure funding for transportation to take their students to the Clay County Fair’s “Ag-Citing” exhibit in Spencer, which introduces fair-goers to Iowa farms and what happens on them.
“The application process is competitive,” Bohner said, “but the closer the grant request relates to agriculture, the better the chance the grant will be funded. He said he knows of educators who have also used the money to help fund a trip for their students to Living History Farms.
Once teachers have been notified that their grant application has been accepted, they have one year to complete their project.
Teachers educating anyone from pre-K-12 may apply.
“Teachers need resources and schools are limited on funds,” Bohner said. “It’s our own way to help fill that void, and try to get teachers to incorporate some kind of ag curriculum in the schools.”
Applications must be made online only, by going to www.iowafarmbureau.com and clicking on the “Teacher Supplemental” link, which is one of a few revolving pages on the website.
This year’s deadline for application is Feb. 8. Bohner said that once all applications have been received, the state Farm Bureau committee convenes to review them and decide who will receive grant dollars.
Local Farm Bureau offices are not involved in the decision-making process.
“Almost all counties in Iowa participate in this program,” said Bohner, adding that other states may have similar programs as well. “This one operates independently.”
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