Increasing Agricultural Literacy in Educators and Students Throughout the State

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What is Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC)?

Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom focuses
on increasing agricultural literacy in students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Through hands-on activities and agricultural-based learnings embedded into everyday curriculum, MAITC reaches both students and teachers to better “cultivate an understanding and appreciation of the food and fiber system that we all rely on every day”.

The Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) activities range widely from grade to grade, classroom to classroom, and topic to topic. With more than
400 free, well-curated, agriculture-based lessons

on the program’s online portal for teachers to utilize throughout the year in their classroom, the

opportunities for incorporating agriculture into their curriculum is endless.

Wanda Patsche, Minnesota Pork Board executive board member, became involved with MAITC and their mission just over three years ago. After realizing the impact MAITC could have on upcoming generations and their knowledge of where their food comes from, she immersed herself in the program and now sits as a Regional Ag Curriculum Specialist.

“Students and kids are no exception to having basic ag literacy. I feel we’ve lost a whole generation of people knowing where their food comes from,” says Patsche.

In her role, Patsche’s main responsibilities are to provide support for teachers by prepping lessons. This includes gathering supplies, putting the kits together, and placing it in the hands of the educator, completely prepped and ready to go. “All of this

behind-the-scenes prep work takes a large burden off the teacher’s plate,” Patsche notes.

Every lesson comes from teachers themselves or AITC staff. From there, it is sent to the National AITC and vigorously screened for accuracy and relevancy. The lessons are high-quality, contain 3-4 activities, and provide a great learning experience for the students. However, once the final bells chime, kids rush out of the school, and summer begins, education for the teachers doesn’t end.

MAITC also offers unique, interactive, summer tours which allow educators to get a first-hand look into the world of agriculture. Not only do these tours provide education for teachers, but they offer new ideas and insights to incorporate into the following year’s classroom curriculum. For further incentive to

participate, Continuing Education Credits and graduate credits are often offered with participation on
these tours.

Patsche has the opportunity to lead one of these tours each summer. This past July, approximately
35 teachers from the Metro area, southern Minnesota, and Bemidji gathered in Fairmont for a two-day learning experience focused around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) topics.

The group began the tour at Weigh-Tronix Ag Products – one of the world’s leading suppliers of weighing scales, systems, and equipment – where they toured the manufacturing company seeing how seed grinders operate. Along the tour were small stations displaying concentrated aspects of the company accompanied by one or two employees available to answer questions and provide further explanations of their role in the company.

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