TALLAHASSEE – In an effort to increase agricultural literacy statewide, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles Bronson hosted a press conference Monday, March 23 at the Capitol in Tallahassee in honor of the sixth anniversary of Florida Agriculture Literacy Day.
After the press conference, Commissioner Bronson read this year’s special Agriculture Literacy Day children’s book “These Florida Farms!” to Mr. Darrell Dawson’s second grade class from Bond Elementary in Tallahassee.
Commissioner Bronson joins 1,100 farmers, ranchers, members of local FFA chapters, agriculture industry volunteers and educators who are reading in more than 2,300 elementary classrooms around the state in honor of Florida Agriculture Literacy Day, which is scheduled for Tuesday, March 24.
Florida Agriculture Literacy Day is organized by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Gainesville and charged with educating Florida students and teachers about the importance of agriculture.
“I enjoy reading to elementary students as part of Florida Agriculture Literacy Day each year,” Commissioner Bronson said. “Students are truly interested in what farmers do for living, and it’s a great way to educate these young people about where their food, fiber and landscape materials come from.”
“Florida agriculture industry representatives look forward to Florida Agriculture Literacy Day each spring because it gives them a chance to give back to their communities by educating young people about what they do for a living,” said Vina Jean Banks, chairman of Florida Agriculture in the Classroom and a representative of the Florida Beef Council. “In some instances, farmers and industry representatives continue to stay in touch with the classes they read to, keeping students posted on what crops they’re planting and what’s going on in the industry.”
The numbers of industry volunteers and classrooms participating in Florida Agriculture Literacy Day this year by region are: 139 volunteers in 290 classrooms in the Panhandle, 101 volunteers in 231 classrooms in Northeast Florida, 129 volunteers in 134 classrooms in North Central Florida, 183 volunteers in 374 classrooms in Central Florida, 293 volunteers in 409 classrooms in the Tampa Bay area, 203 volunteers in 767 classrooms in South Florida and 46 volunteers in 132 classrooms in Southwest Florida.
Gary Seamans and Mike Wright wrote and illustrated “These Florida Farms!” for Florida Agriculture Literacy Day. It’s a rhyming book in which a safari guide takes two children on a tour of Florida agriculture to show them that food, clothing and other items come from the farm and not from the store.
Florida Agriculture in the Classroom provides the books to industry volunteers free of charge, and asks that they donate the books to school libraries after their readings. In addition to the books, Florida Agriculture in the Classroom provides volunteers with a pre-and-post test and activities designed for the book for teachers, and a classroom set of bookmarks for students that list Florida farmers’ contributions to the state economically and environmentally.
Florida Agriculture in the Classroom is able to offer the books and materials free of charge to industry volunteers because of the funding it receives from sales of the agriculture specialty license plate also known as the ‘Ag Tag.’
In addition to Florida Agriculture Literacy Day, Florida Agriculture in the Classroom provides curricula, materials, workshops, grant money and other programs to teachers and agriculture industry volunteers who reach out to Florida students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
The mission of Florida Agriculture in the Classroom is to expand youth awareness and understanding of Florida agriculture and natural resources by integrating agricultural concepts into core educational disciplines and Florida Agriculture in the Classroom supporting programs.