During the fall season, turkey tends to take center stage,thanks to Thanksgiving. However, all year long Minnesota Agriculture in theClassroom (MAITC) is playing a pivotal role in educating the state's youthabout the turkey industry through its multifaceted approach, encompassingcurricular tools, student experiences, and teacher professional development.
In a recent interview with Sue Knott, an EducationSpecialist with MAITC, she explains the organization's efforts to promoteagricultural education, specifically focusing on the turkey industry.
Curricular Tools: Connecting Agriculture with ClassroomLearning
MAITC has developed a rich array of curricular tools whichcan be found in the curriculum matrix—a searchable database ofagriculture-themed lesson plans aligned with academic standards in science,social studies, and language arts. For instance, lessons on turkey life cyclesengage younger students in understanding the journey from egg to adult turkey,emphasizing the importance of animal life cycles in science education.
"The Geography of Thanksgiving Dinner" is anotherpopular lesson that delves into the origins of Thanksgiving meal components,highlighting the significance of Minnesota in turkey production. Additionally,a language arts-focused lesson titled "A Rafter of Turkeys" promptsstudents to explore the unique characteristics of turkeys, fostering reading,writing, and comprehension skills.
Sue Knott emphasized that these educational resources arefreely available to any educator, facilitating the integration ofturkey-related topics into various subjects and grade levels.
Student Experiences: Virtual Field Trips to Turkey Farms
An annual fall tradition for MAITC is the virtual field tripto a Minnesota turkey farm. This virtual experience, now in its eighth year,provides a unique opportunity for classrooms to connect directly with turkeyfarmers via Zoom. Last year, 270 classes, comprising approximately 6,000students, participated in the virtual field trip, gaining insights into theday-to-day operations of a turkey farm.
This year, the virtual field trip visited Fahlun Farms nearLake Lillian, Minn. MTGA President, Jake Vlaminck guided the tour of his farmas 139 classes (2,886 students) participated. The recording of the tour can befound on the MAITC YouTube channel.
Teacher Professional Development: Summer Teacher Tours
MAITC extends its impact by offering summer teacher tours,allowing educators to engage in firsthand experiences with agriculture.Teachers participate in tours to various agricultural sites, gaining insightsinto farming practices and connecting these experiences with curriculumdevelopment.
Last summer, teachers visited Ferndale Turkey Farm, wherethey interacted with turkeys, met farmers, and explored curriculum connections.
AG Mag Magazine Series: Infusing Agriculture intoClassroom Reading
MAITC's AG Mag magazine series, tailored for grades Kthrough 6, integrates turkey-related content into its fall and spring issues.This resource further supports teachers in incorporating agricultural topicsseamlessly into classroom reading and discussions.
Personalized Support for Teachers
Beyond standardized resources, MAITC offers personalizedsupport for teachers who seek to integrate agriculture, includingturkey-related content, into their classrooms. Sue highlighted theorganization's commitment to working one-on-one with teachers to meet theirspecific needs and enhance students' learning experiences.
In her 12 years with MAITC, Sue Knott has witnessed theorganization's dedication to fostering agricultural literacy among Minnesota'syouth. Through a combination of innovative curricular tools, engaging studentexperiences, and targeted teacher professional development, MAITC continues tosow the seeds of knowledge about the turkey industry and agriculture at largein classrooms across the state. As the organization evolves, so does its impacton shaping the next generation's understanding of and appreciation for theagricultural world around them.