Students plant hundreds of red Russian kale seedlings to be harvested for their summer CSA program. (Photo credit: Jessica Kourkounis)
One of the best parts of my job as a Farm to School Regional Lead for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is visiting schools and districts that are bringing local foods into the cafeteria and teaching students where their food comes from. And I am always particularly excited when I get to visit programs with innovative school garden components, like William Penn High School, part of Delaware’s Colonial School District.
Several years ago, William Penn went through a major restructure. Part of what came out of that process was a renewed commitment to agricultural education, and the recognition that the 117-acre William Penn Historic Farm, operated by a local land trust, could be a major asset to the school. A new agriculture “major” was established, and students took over two acres of the adjacent parcel to grow more than 30 varieties of fruits and vegetables. They also started a CSA program selling shares to teachers and community members. Read more »
Lakota Roberson (left) stands with representatives from Flying Diamond Ranch, who have sponsored the teen for various events. Roberson has won multiple championships and has been hired by other businesses for her fitting and showing abilities.
At 16, Lakota Roberson has a lot of responsibility. The high school sophomore works two jobs, runs her own business, handles a full course load of classes and cares for 54 animals that she considers to be her children. By senior year she hopes to grow her animal family to 100.
Lakota, who starts her days off at 5:30 a.m. on weekends and 6 a.m. on weekdays admits, “I don’t have much down time, but when I do, I sleep.” Her first chore of the day, of course, is to take care of her animals. They consist of 40 ewes, 10 goats and four rams.
“It started out as a hobby, now it’s my job,” said Lakota. “But I love it.” Read more »
Earlier this week, I hosted a White House Rural Council discussion with farmers, business owners, board members, commodity groups, youth leaders and academics to discuss opportunities for women in agriculture. The group included women and men, conventional farmers and organic producers and organizations like Food Corps, the Future Farmers of America Foundation and the American Farm Bureau. There were major corporations including Coca Cola and Land O’ Lakes as well as smaller operations like Sandy Oaks Olive Orchards from Texas.
In preparation for the meeting, I asked the participants to use #womeninag to identify inspiring women in agriculture. The overwhelming response on Twitter stimulated our discussion and motivated the group to identify what we can do to continue supporting women in agriculture. Read more »
Mary Louise Reynnells (right) and Shellie Wallace-Polin in their FFA jackets, 1977.
Earlier this year, in preparation for the 2015 opening of a new business history exhibition, American Enterprise, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History put out a call for current and past members of the National FFA Organization to submit their FFA jackets accompanied with their own personal agricultural history. The jackets and stories, to be featured in the agricultural portion of the exhibition, will examine the significance that agricultural education continues to play to our national identity.
At a ceremony last week, five jackets and their stories were selected; among them, a jacket from President Jimmy Carter and a jacket from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service employee Mary “Louise” Reynnells. USDA employees work every day to ensure that American farmers have access to the opportunities they need, and many of their ties to agriculture extend well beyond their time at USDA. Here is Mary “Louise” Reynnells’s story, and with it, her contribution to our agricultural heritage. Read more »
Five-year-old Joe Joe Charles celebrates being named “Cowboy Of The Year.” Photo by Bob Haentzler
He didn’t want to go to Disney World or meet his favorite superhero. All 5-year-old Joe Joe Charles wished for was one day where he could be a farmer and a cowboy.
It was a wish that FSA County Executive Director Linda Mathews and the Make-A-Wish Foundation brought to life.
“Joe Joe is the first child that had a wish to be a farmer or cowboy for a day,” said Stephanie Hampton-Boeglin, director of Mission Delivery for Make-A-Wish Missouri, “It’s the best wish I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of.” Read more »
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the U.S. Department of Agriculture blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the agency’s rich science and research portfolio.
During this week – National Agriculture Week—agriculture groups all across the country are coming together to recognize and promote agriculture’s numerous contributions to society. National Agriculture Week also gives the farm community an opportunity to reach out to students and educators to reinforce the importance of agricultural education in the classroom. To that end, new classroom lesson plans that meet National Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources standards along with outreach kits are available to teachers and students. Read more »