State Summary 2015 — Michigan
In 2015, Michigan Ag in the Classroom developed a new lesson about potatoes and nutrition. The lesson is written to meet 6-9th Grade science standards. The lesson includes two posters and several worksheets that can be copied for teacher or volunteer use in the classroom.
Also, in 2015, Michigan Ag in the Classroom updated our Michigan Commodities by county map (hard-copy item), that teachers and volunteers can use to see the varying top commodities produced by value in our 83 counties. The printed piece also includes infographic facts about Michigan agriculture overall.
Lessons and activities can be found at: miagclassroom.org
Major Program Accomplishments or Outputs
In 2015, the Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom program administered through the Promotion & Education Department at Michigan Farm Bureau and funded through the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, continued to tailor our branding in communication and materials for specific audiences. We are using the Michigan Ag in the Classroom logo and branding provided by the National Ag in the Classroom Organization, in our outreach to educators and Ag in the Classroom volunteers. Volunteer promotional material continues to bear the Promotion & Education logo and branding.
We continued our classroom scholarship program, funded through the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture. We provided three $500 scholarships for classroom projects that qualified. We also sponsored seven teacher scholarships to the NAITC Conference in 2015. Michigan continues to emphasize volunteer training and outreach, as well as direct outreach to teachers. Our keystone training conference provided training for more than 150 county leaders. Throughout the state, more than 165 volunteers engaged with more than 9,500 students in Agriculture in the Classroom lessons across 40 counties. Educational events such as Project R.E.D.'s (Rural Education Days) were conducted in 33 counties where more than 2,500 volunteers organized lessons and exhibits to teach 19,500 children about agriculture. Summer provides an increased opportunity for outreach through fairs and exhibitions, where more than 150,000 youth and adults are reached by our volunteer promoters.
In 2015, we continued to focus on accurate agriculture books being read during March is Reading Month. We provided free copies of an accurate agriculture book to all State House and Senate Committee members, so they would use them as they were reading during the month.
We are continuing to use our resource guide with teachers and volunteers; which is directly driving the demand for more Ag in the Classroom resources.
Major Program Impacts or Outcomes
• Agricultural literacy activities by volunteers increased across the state by 5%.
• At least 80% of our volunteers trained at the state level conduct AITC lessons at the local level.
• Project RED (Rural Education Day) activities continued to grow in the state, with an additional event conducted in 2015, increasing our county by county reach by 3%.
• In 2015, Ag Week activities continued to pick up momentum, with events and activities related to agricultural literacy took place in 70% of our county Farm Bureaus.
• In 2015, through a Facebook contest during National Ag Week, we increased our reach by 22% in two weeks.
• Also new in 2015, was our outreach to children's museums with the My American Farm display. "Throughfree" placement of the display and training of museum staff we reached more than 1,876 children and families in two three-month placements.
In October 2013, Tonia Ritter joined the Center for Education and Leadership Development as Manager of Promotion and Education. In her 15 years at MFB, Tonia also worked in the Government Relations area for the organization, first as a legislative counsel and then for six years managing the State Government Relations activities. Prior to joining MFB, she worked in marketing and in public relations for agricultural related companies.
Tonia is a graduate of Michigan State University, with a B.S. in Agricultural Communications. As an alumnus, she serves on the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Alumni Board. Tonia is active in her church and community, serving as a 4H leader, Chairperson of Christian Education and coaching her boys through AYSO soccer. Tonia and her husband Brad live in Byron, Michigan where they are raising three boys Trevor, Bryce and Evan on their family dairy farm.