The County Ag Report: Ag in the Classroom

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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine - At USDA offices and Soil and Water Conservation Districts around the County, professionals are reaching out to teachers about agriculture.

(Kelsey) We have lots of materials that are good for all age groups. We're in a really interesting time right now where people are interested in where their food is coming from and how it gets there.

Kelsey Ramerth is a Soil Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service out of Fort Kent, and has been working together with Hollie Umphrey of the Soil and Water Conservation District in Central Aroostook. Umphrey is a member of the Ag In The Classroom Council, which meets in Augusta.

(Hollie) It's made up of some active teachers in the school systems, college teachers, professors, we have, they're affiliated through the Maine Department of Agriculture, we also have some who are with the various county Cooperative Extension offices that help promote the various types of agriculture that they want to get into the school systems.

The curriculum the council comes up with varies depending on grade level, from books for younger children to hands-on experiments for older students.

(Hollie) Every year they have a different agriculture commodity that they would like to promote. This year, it's called "Maple Syrup from the Sugarhouse." So it's a really neat quick read for someone to go into your classroom, and they go step by step on the from the beginning of springtime when the sap is starting to run all the way through to actually making maple syrup and the candy.

(Kelsey) Why should you care about it? Well we really put that in front of them and we can actually see, hey, this is what a healthy soil looks like, this is what a productive soil looks like, this is what is actually producing your food.

Incorporating more diverse agriculture in local curriculums is something Ramerth and Umphrey hope will catch on in local schools.

(Kelsey) It's very important. I grew up in an area where you said "where does beef come from?" and they say "the store."

(Hollie) They see things right now and they're wondering how did that happen, how do we get this, wonder why that is. And this really spells it out in a wonderful, colorful way.

Interested teachers can reach out at no charge to the Central Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District or the USDA NRCS Fort Kent office for information. Anthony Macari, NewsSource 8.