State Reports

State Summary 2016 — Michigan

State Contact

Ms. Tonia Ritter
Michigan Farm Bureau
7373 W. Saginaw Hwy.
Lansing, MI 48909
P: 517.679.5345
E: tritter@michfb.com
Website

Classroom Resources

In 2016, we updated one of our tried and true lessons,Michigan Food from Farm to You." In addition to the lesson update the accompanying posters for the lessons were updated, as well. The lesson is found on our website www.miagclassroom.org. http://miagclassroom.org/edu/lessons.cfm

With the addition of a new staff person for our mobile classroom, theFARM (Food, Agriculture and Resources in Motion) Science Lab, we have created 8 lessons for use in the lab itself. These lessons are not available for download on our site, as they are intended to be taught specifically in our lab. Information about the lab is found at www.farmsciencelab.org.

Michigan Ag in the Classroom also partnered with our State FFA to assemble a series of lessons to help provide accurate resources for increasing ag literacy within school FFA programs. These lessons will be showcased in a workshop at NAITC Conference in June. They are not available online

Major Program Accomplishments or Outputs

In 2016, 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. The significant addition in 2016, is our new Michigan Ag in the Classroom website, developed with support from NAITCO.

We continued our educator scholarship program, and helped support 11 educators to the 2016 conference in Phoenix, AZ. Michigan continues to emphasize volunteer training and outreach, as well as direct outreach to teachers. Our keystone training conference provided training for more than 220 volunteer leaders. Throughout the state, more than 165 volunteers engaged with more than 7,500 students in Agriculture in the Classroom lessons across 40 counties. Educational events such as Project R.E.D."e;"e;s (Rural Education Days) were conducted in 33 counties where more than 2,500 volunteers organized lessons and exhibits to teach 18,000 children about agriculture. Summer provides an increased opportunity for outreach through fairs and exhibitions, where more than 125,000 youth and adults are reached by our volunteer promoters.

In 2016, 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. Several of these state legislators called us out on social media after reading the book.

2016 also brought about the culmination of several years of research, fundraising and planning with the creation of our new mobile classroom - the FARM Science Lab. We have hired an additional staff and working through the pilot phase of the program in 2017.

Major Program Impacts or Outcomes

  • Staff dedicated to AITC has more than doubled, with the addition of a full-time staff person dedicated to our FARM Science Lab outreach.
  • 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 2016, bringing us to nearly 50% of county Farm Bureaus hosting the outreach.
  • Our volunteer training increased by about 30% year over year in 2016.
  • In 2016, we estimate the My American Farm agricultural education game display reached more than 2,100 children and families through placement in children's museums and libraries throughout the year.

Biosketch

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.