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National Agriculture in the Classroom

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Summary 2020 —

State Contact

VACANT

Innovative Programming Conducted and Educational Resources Developed

Garden Grants - This is more of a 2021 change as a result of 2020 - We plan to offer a garden kit grant as a one-time option this spring. Many of our schools are still not open or open on a very limited basis, so we found that most of the garden grants we awarded last year have not yet been able to be used. We're granting extra time for that, but are also implementing a mini-grant program for this spring where schools can apply to send home growing kits with students. Then, we're opening our usual garden grant in late spring for use in the 2021-22 school year.

Teacher Hybrid PD became fully virtual - The in-person portion of our 8-week teacher professional development program, Infusing Ag in the Elementary Classroom, switched to a virtual workshop. The time requirements shifted to allow for part of the workshop to be conducted live with guest presenters and then workshop sessions that allowed for it were pre-recorded for teachers to watch. Teachers also received their workshop materials in a box mailed to them ahead of the course starting.

We developed our first Middle School teacher PD called Infusing Ag in the Middle School Classroom. It will launch this spring 2021.

MAEF's School's Out Campaign -https://tinyurl.com/y5v5x3ea - Developed in response to schools closing in March, MAEF began developing daily lessons around a weekly theme and pushing them out via social media. Hands-on experiments were included and as it became a more regular campaign, we developed a Google Doc that hosted the daily topics including background information, guiding questions, and web-based resources to help with topic exploration.

We developed the following resources:

  • Ag-Mazing News - https://tinyurl.com/y5zy6thc - These "newspapers" feature agricultural-based mini-lessons which can be integrated into skills taught in ELA, math, science & social studies. These were an existing resource, but we've revised the existing ones, developed at least 20 new topics, and optimized them for teacher and at-home use.
  • At-Home AgTivities - https://tinyurl.com/y6zdzes3 - These are a brand new MAEF resource supporting families at home looking for fun hands-on activities around agriculture. They are meant for younger children (PreK - 3).
  • Ag Literacy Lesson Plans for PB&J Hooray! - https://tinyurl.com/wwe4d8f - Brand new, original lesson plans developed for K-5 teachers using MAEF's 2020 Ag Lit book, PB&J Hooray!
  • The Perfect Chicken Sandwich: A PBL Project of Poultry Careers (Middle School) - URL not yet available - Developed with grant support through the Delmarva Chicken Association, this multi-lesson PBL unit explores the careers involved in the farm-to-table process of making a chicken sandwich.
  • MAEF's School's Out Campaign -https://tinyurl.com/y5v5x3ea - Developed in response to schools closing in March, MAEF began developing daily lessons around a weekly theme and pushing them out via social media. Hands-on experiments were included and as it became a more regular campaign, we developed a Google Doc that hosted the daily topics including background information, guiding questions, and web-based resources to help with topic exploration.
  • MAEF's Online AgTivity Resources - http://maefonline.com/home-2/ - This was an offshoot of our daily topics/lessons through our School's Out Campaign. Some of the more popular topics were put in their own Google Docs and organized by grade level on this page.

Major Program Impacts or Outcomes

After running 3 instances of our new 8-week elementary professional development course, we have started to see a waitlist form for this program. Classroom teachers are excited to infuse agriculture into their classroom.

After participating in our elementary PD course, a science curriculum coordinator in one of Maryland's largest counties reached out for help finding support for grow kits for all 5th graders in their county. This is part of a new curriculum unit they were developing around local farming and growing. We were able to connect them to local ag folks interested in supporting this program.

Strengthened our partnership with Great Kids Farm, a farm-based education site owned and operated by Baltimore City Public Schools. We have partnered on professional development opportunities, student outreach, and program offerings between our organizations to reach more students in Baltimore City.

Program Leader Biosketch

Susanne Zilberfarb joined MAEF in 2019 as executive director after 25 years with the soybean checkoff boards in Maryland and Delaware, where she directed marketing and education programs and served as executive director. A graduate of Salisbury University with a bachelor's degree in Communication Arts and a minor in Sociology, Susanne invested in her agricultural career by completing the LEAD Maryland agricultural leadership fellowship and the Annie's Project farm management course in addition to adult continuing education in nonprofit accounting, website design and Spanish. She was a certified Master Gardener with Virginia Tech for 11 years prior to returning to Maryland. She is a member of the board of directors of the Maryland FFA Association, Maryland Agriculture Council, and has been nominated for a seat on the Maryland Environmental Trust board.

Shannon Brown is the Elementary Education Director of MAEF. She came to MAEF in 2016 as a teacher in their mobile science labs, leading students across the state in hands-on lessons highlighting the importance of agriculture in their lives. Shannon was then tasked with developing MAEF's pilot distance learning education program, which provides elementary teachers with hybrid online/in-person professional development opportunities for incorporating agriculture in their classrooms. Now, as Elementary Education Director, she's thrilled to head up existing MAEF programs like the Mobile Science Labs, teacher professional development, and Ag Literacy program, among others. She is excited to begin new programs, as well, to bring agriculture to elementary students and teachers. Prior to joining MAEF, Shannon enjoyed her time in the classroom as an elementary teacher in Anne Arundel County Public Schools for ten years. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and of LaSalle University with a master's degree in Education.