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National Agriculture in the Classroom


Summary 2021 — Maryland

State Contact

Ms. Susanne Richards
Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation
P.O. Box 536
Havre de Grace, MD 21078
P: 410.939.9030

Innovative Programming Conducted and Educational Resources Developed

Mobile Science Lab Curriculum: All of the curriculum for our Mobile Science Lab program was reviewed, revised and updated. The instructional materials for several of our most popular lessons were also rewritten in Spanish to provide more accessibility for those non-English speaking students who visit our lab.

Maryland Ag Commodity Map: Utilizing the most recent ag census statistics, our commodity map was updated to reflect the top 3 agricultural commodities of each county. The map was also given an updated look with new icons more representative of our new branding guidelines.

Lab in a Box: Due to Mobile Science Labs not being able to visit schools, we developed a Lab in a Box program to provide K-5 teachers with a complete science lab, centered around soybeans, that they could conduct in their classroom. Teachers had the option to purchase either a primary (k-2) or intermediate (3-5) kit. These kits were so popular, we've added this program as a permanent program for our ag literacy outreach.

Living Local Farm & Classroom Curriculum: A new farm and classroom curriculum was developed for Worcester County that centered on Maryland Coastal Bays agriculture, highlighting soil conservation and Best Management Practices.

Major Program Impacts or Outcomes

  • Sponsored workshops focused on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Classroom for preservice, current classroom teachers and staff in the Division of Career & College Readiness at MSDE.
  • Increased knowledge and skills in the integration of agricultural education in classroom teachers
  • Increased understanding of agriculture connections to personal and professional lives of educators
  • Connected classroom teachers with agriculture within their communities, which allowed them to learn about their community's agriculture heritage, families, production and opportunities for student learning experiences
  • Encouraged advocacy for agricluture and ag education at the school and community level.
  • Generated excitement and interest in school-based oral history projects, farmers markets (economics), and health/nutrition eduation opportunities.
  • Engaged teachers and students in conversations with local farmers about agriculture and its importance in our community and their individual lives.
  • Enabled classroom teachers to easily incorporate agriculture into their classrooms.

Program Leader Biosketch

Tonya Wible is the Elementary Education Director for MAEF. She has not only classroom experience, but a personal connection to agriculture and extensive work in agricultural education program development and management. Tonya earned a BS in Education and a BA in Psychology from Shippensburg University. After teaching 3rd grade for 6 years, Tonya left the classroom to help PA Friends of Ag Foundation start their Mobile Ag Ed Science Lab program. In this role, she was able to merge her passion for education with her appreciation for agriculture that she gained growing up on a dairy farm in southcentral PA. During her time with the Foundation, she grew their Ag Lab program into a statewide program, as well as initiated and developed numerous other educational outreach programs with an agricultural focus. In the fall of 2020, Tonya returned to classroom instruction with Commonwealth Charter Academy, where she incorporated agriculture into the virtual lessons. She is excited to be back in the ag arena and focused on maintaining, as well as growing, the quality ag education programs at MAEF. This is Tonya’s first year as Maryland’s state contact for NAITC, however she served 7 years as the state contact for Pennsylvania. She currently lives on a small beef farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, Steve, and daughter, Elyana.