This is part three of a multi-part series on agricultural educational materials. In case you missed the previous installments of this series, check out:
I’ve been writing the BEEF Daily blog every Monday through Thursday since September of 2008. If you’re keeping track, that’s just under 2,500 blog posts — a dizzying number if you stop to think about it!
Of these thousands of posts, one of my most popular blogs to date has been, “Ag education desperately needed in schools.”
Here’s the synopsis of the post: “Our nation’s educators push math, science, reading and social studies with an emphasis on standardized testing, but are students ready for the real world? Practical lessons grounded in agriculture could help prepare them for adulthood.”
The popularity of this post, year after year, highlights the huge need to fill the gaps of our children’s education with practical, real-life lessons that help them understand where their food comes from, how it’s grown, how producers take care of the environment and their livestock and how to be informed shoppers at the grocery store.
This isn’t a light lesson. We eat every single day, so having a firm grasp of these topics is a critical life skill they will use throughout their lifetimes.
Promoting agricultural literacy has always been a passion of mine. As a children’s book author, I enjoy going to elementary schools and libraries and reading my books. My fourth book, about soil health, will come out later this year, and I’m excited to share it with young people for years to come. You can learn about my previously published books by clicking here.
In 2020, the need for a well-rounded education has become even more paramount.
As children are doing more virtual learning this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to look at creative, out-of-the-box ways to provide this information to young people.
A few weeks ago, I launched a multi-part series on BEEF Daily that rounds up a list of online resources and published books to assist in agricultural education. These materials are intended to be used by teachers, parents, kids, librarians and after-school programs.
In other words, these resources are accessible and applicable to almost everyone. Now, it’s our task to spread the word and share these agricultural materials with the masses.
In this third part of the series, here are some additional materials that have been sent to me from readers following the first two installments. Enjoy!
1. “Farm Kids” by Haidyn and Hannah of White Barn Hay & Cattle
Follow farm girls Haidyn and Hannah as they explore their Arizona farm, White Barn Hay & Cattle. Learn about their love of the land and discover what life looks like on a hay and cattle farm. This book is made for kids by kids!
Another set of books written by kids for kids, the Chaney Twins have nine books in their collection, each better than the last! From learning about calving season to discovering how nutritious beef and dairy are, these are well-loved books in our house.
With real-life photography, my daughter one night while reading, “Little Star…Raising Our First Calf,” said, “Mom, I just can’t take my eyes off these amazing pictures!”
3. “Kindergarten Rancher” by Rachel Gabel
The inaugural children's book from ag journalist Rachel Gabel, illustrated by Shannon Clark. Published by Vogler Cattle Company. Written for the ranch kids who dream in colors like smoke, peach, and black baldie.
4. "Hank the Cowdog" starring Matthew McConaughey
On Sept. 1, we learned that the popular “Hank the Cowdog” book series, which has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, would be featured in a new family podcast and will star Hollywood actor, Matthew McConaughey. The five-episode season, which will also feature original musical numbers, will launch on September 14 through QCODE and be available on Apple Podcasts and all major podcast platforms.
5. American Farm Bureau’s “Farm a Month” bundle
My kids are definitely signing up for this! For $95, the bundle includes a book for each month, along with a lesson plan and the opportunity to meet a farmer. Beef isn’t on the list, but kids can learn about maple syrup, popcorn, apples, peanuts, pears, cheese, pumpkins, turkeys and cranberries in timely lessons through the seasons.
AgExplorer offers free resources to help young people explore potential career paths in agriculture. Designed for middle school kids, this resource gives a realistic view of the ins and outs of careers in agribusiness, education, animal science, biotechnology systems, environmental service systems, plant systems, natural resources, food products and processing and power, structural and technical systems.
7. “Farm-to-Fork” curriculum by Science Lessons That Rock
This free curriculum is broken down into three units consisting of 17 lesson plans. The lessons include multiple options and are easy to modify to fit your grade level and classroom needs. Units include an introduction to the food system, farmers, food chains, global hunger, food policy, the environment and more.
Note that I haven’t reviewed every single one of these resources, so explore the material and determine if they reflect what you want to teach your children or students. If you utilize any of these books or lessons in your classroom, I would love to hear about it! And if you have additional suggestions for me, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.