Ag-in-the-Classroom

The Agriculture in the Classroom program is an experiential-learning opportunity that engages students in topics related to our food system and environmental sustainability. 

Our Agriculture in the Classroom program includes an interactive learning kit and six, one-hour lessons from one of our 4-H Youth Development educators. There are many ways to include these programs into your classroom curriculum or afterschool programs. For the 2020 - 2021 school year, our educators are also available to conduct lessons virtually through Google Meets or Zoom!

Educators interested in our Ag-in-the-Classroom programs should use the contact at the bottom of this page.

Click here for the Ag-in-the-Classroom Brochure

New York Ag-in-the-Classroom Program

History of New York Agriculture in the Classroom

Established in 1985, New York Agriculture in the Classroom (NYAITC) is a partnership of Cornell University, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, the NYS Education Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the New York Farm Bureau.

Mission

Our mission is to foster awareness, understanding, and appreciation of how we produce food and fiber, what we eat, and how we live, by helping educators, students, and their communities learn about and engage with agriculture and food systems.

We work with pre-K through middle school teachers, Cornell Cooperative Extension and other community educators, farmers and producers, volunteers, parents, and community partners to increase agricultural literacy in New York State.

What is New York Agriculture in the Classroom?

NYAITC envisions a day when educators, students, and communities in New York:

  • Recognize the connection between agricultural production and the daily consumption of food and fiber products
  • Appreciate the economic, social, historical, and scientific significance of agriculture in our local and global society
  • Understand the complexity of today's agriculture and food systems
  • Explore the many career opportunities in all areas of agriculture and food systems

Less than 2% of our population actually produces food on farms, while nearly 20% of our nation's workforce is in some way, shape, or form involved in the processing, marketing, distribution, and sales of food and fiber products. We all rely on agriculture every day--from food we eat, fibers our clothes are made of, and other materials we use each day to agriculture's relationship with our environment, economy, and society. And yet, little is taught in most schools about agriculture and food and fiber systems. The purpose of this program is to increase your students' understanding of agriculture and instill an appreciation for our renewable food, fiber and fuel systems.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture in the Classroom Program

NIFA's Agriculture in the Classroom Program (AITC) serves nearly 5 million students and 60,000 teachers annually through workshops, conferences, field trips, farm tours, and other educational activities. AITC programs include working with state AITC activities engaged in a variety of issues relating to agricultural literacy. Other programs emphasized by the NIFA AITC office include:

  • Science literacy
  • Agricultural careers
  • Nutrition
  • Pre-service and professional develop opportunities for teachers.

The disciplines of agriculture and education have been related for much of our nation's history. When most Americans lived on farms or in small towns, students often did farm chores before and after school. Old schoolbooks have numerous agricultural references. As the farming population began to decline, agricultural emphasis decreased in educational materials as well.

A core group of educators and agriculturalists pushed for more youth education about agriculture. They recognized the interlocking role of farming and food and fiber production with environmental quality, which included wildlife habitat, clean water, and the preservation of forests. This group went on to promote the national effort of AITC. Today AITC continues to help students gain a greater awareness of the role of agriculture in the economy and society so they will become citizens who support wise agricultural policies.

Last updated December 23, 2020