Agriculture takes root in Maine classrooms

The following press release was issued March 13 by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Commissioner Whitcomb previews National Agriculture Week to Students at Augusta’s Farrington Elementary School

AUGUSTA – Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, visited the Farrington Elementary School today to talk about Maine farms and read aloud to fourth graders. The event kicks off National Agriculture Week, which begins March 18. Whitcomb, a dairy farmer himself, read this year’s book, “Dairy Farming for ME”, to students, then answered questions on a wide range of topics. The Farrington Elementary School fourth graders also learned how to make butter.

Students asked Commissioner Whitcomb a number of questions about cows, milk, and nature’s recycling process. When one girl stated, “It looks like a lot of technology,” Commissioner Whitcomb emphasized how today’s farmers are using technology every day. Whitcomb touched on many of the skills and attributes needed to produce food. “I was impressed at how inquisitive the kids were about nutrition (human and animal), and how interested they were in learning more about food production,” said Whitcomb. “Events like this help build interest and awareness and, hopefully, future farmers.” The Commissioner concluded his visit by urging kids to “go visit a cow someday.”

“Read ME Agriculture” is an annual event sponsored by Maine Agriculture in the Classroom. Volunteers take Ag-related books and materials to grades Pre K–4 across the state and volunteer their time reading to the students. This year the book, Dairy Farming for ME, was written especially for the event with the help of the Maine Dairy Promotion Board and Maine Dairy Nutrition Council. Additional funding was provided by a grant from USDA and the Maine Agriculture specialty license plate. National Agriculture week begins March 18 and will involve 600 Maine classrooms with more than 12,000 students. Over 180 volunteers will conduct similar reading events across the state in every county.

For more information on Ag Literacy programs, visit www.MaineAgintheClassroom.org. To learn more about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: www.maine.gov/acf.

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