Georgia Farm Bureau members and county staff attending the organization’s annual educational/ leadership conference gained skills to implement the components of GFB’s Harvest 20 Vision - Inspire, Educate & Preserve - in their local communities.
“We are rapidly moving along with implementing the Harvest 20 Vision,” GFB President Gerald Long said while addressing conference attendees. “Today we are planting the seeds that will lead us to a bountiful crop for our Harvest 20 Vision. When we talk about planting the seeds of our Harvest 20 Vision, our state and county women’s committees are right at the top of the effort.”
Conference keynote speaker Jane Herlong set a positive tone for the conference with a hilarious motivational speech. Herlong shared four principles she learned growing up on a tomato farm near Charleston.
Principle 1: Never say never.
“What I’ve learned is, if you’re in agriculture, you have to be positive and you have to never say never,” Herlong said.
Principle 2: Find your shine.
“I learned picking tomatoes that you’ve got to find your shine. What do you do best? Find it and shine at it. Shiny starts on the inside,” Herlong shared.
Principle 3: Cull what's holding you back.
“If you’re going to be successful you have to get rid of whatever is holding you back,” Herlong recommended. “Don’t settle for second best.”
Principle 4: Plow up the bad or plow through it with humor.
“When you have a bad crop are you going to plow it up or plow through it? My daddy did both. I’ve seen him plow up a bad crop and replant it, and I’ve seen him plow through a tough crop. Having a sense of humor will see you through either way.
“Trying it again when things go wrong is the spirit of agriculture. You have to be the person God made you to be. Shine, cull and plow to get there,” Herlong said.
Conference attendees broke into four groups that rotated through workshops focused on how to take agriculture into schools.
“The success of Farm Bureau’s agricultural literacy efforts in our classrooms is a direct result of our volunteers,” GFB Women’s Leadership Committee Chair Carol McQueen said. “They chose to come to this conference to better their programs. Each workshop was designed to help our volunteers and inspire them.”
Planning classroom visits
Harris County Office Manager Linda Luttrell and GFB Women’s Leadership Committee members Heather Cabe and Melissa Bottoms taught conference attendees how to get into classrooms to talk about agriculture and what to do once there.
Luttrell said she got her foot in the door to visit elementary schools by meeting with the county school superintendent and sharing her plan for talking to students about ag.
“He loved the idea because it was free and met curriculum standards,” Luttrell said. “You can also start by meeting with a principal or start with a teacher you know. Most schools have a volunteer program you could sign up for to get in the door.”
Once county Farm Bureaus have gained access to a teacher’s class, Luttrell recommends Farm Bureau representatives meet with the teacher(s) when they are planning their yearly curriculum to match your ag lessons to their schedule and the class objectives they teach.
She encouraged Farm Bureau volunteers to serve fruit & vegetables grown in Georgia during class visits.
“Students can relate if you give them something to eat. I ask them to take at least three bites. The first bite may be the yuck bite. Then I ask them to try it two more times. If they still don’t like it after the third bite, then that’s ok,” Luttrell said. “Parents are now calling teachers wanting to know why their kids want broccoli or fresh peaches.”
Bottoms and Cabe discussed resources Farm Bureau volunteers can take into classes to talk about farming. Bottoms led workshop participants in making a fact cube about fruit and vegetables using the GFB Ag Mag about Georgia Specialty Crops.
Cabe discussed the Forestry Traveling Trunks the Destination Ag program makes available to county Farm Bureaus through a grant from the Harley Langdale Jr. Foundation. County Farm Bureaus can obtain the forestry trunks from their GFB district field representatives.
Reading is Awesome!
GFB Field Representatives Lauren Goble, 6th District, and Rebecca Jacobs, 3rd District, introduced a new approach to reading ag books to classes. Goble and Jacobs suggested Farm Bureau volunteers do a hands-on activity with students to reinforce the information the book presents.
Activities and lessons to accompany accurate ag books, which volunteers can use to promote about 20 Georgia commodities or ag topics, are available at http://gfb.ag/elc18
Workshop attendees had the chance to be kids and do four hands-on activities including making edible compost using cereal, chocolate chips, dried fruit, pretzels and gummy worms. Each ingredient represents something that can be added to a compost pile. Other activities included making butter, no-bake pumpkin pie and honey fruit dip.
Hall GROWS. So Can You!
Hall County Farm Bureau (HCFB) Young Farmer Committee Chairman Caroline Lewallen and HCFB Office Manager Justine Palmer gave an overview of their Ag in the Classroom (AITC) program, Hall Grows Real Opportunities with Students (GROWS). Lewallen shared how her county Farm Bureau branded their AITC program to make it relatable to their community.
“We branded our program as Hall GROWS to try to open doors of our local schools to us,” Lewallen said. “We try to highlight commodities grown in our county to keep the program local.”
Since HCFB began its program in August 2016, it has reached at least 3,300 Hall County residents.
Palmer said she continues to cultivate relationships with Hall County business and civic leaders to build support for and awareness of HallGROWS.
“We started attending all sorts of meetings to get Hall County Farm Bureau’s name out there and the message that we do Ag in the Classroom programs,” Palmer said. “Cultivating these relationships is something that is very important for reaching our goals. The point is to reach 17,000 students in our community, and we can’t do it alone.”
HCFB has hosted several Ag Educator Workshops offered by the GFB Field Services Department to introduce teachers to the AITC program. This spring, HCFB held a workshop for YMCA leaders to equip them to teach gardening in their summer and afterschool programs. HCFB stays connected with the teachers who attended the workshops via a HallGROWS newsletter.
GFB Field Services staff discussed how county Farm Bureaus can set up a county-specific fund within the foundation so local businesses can make tax deductible donations to support ag literacy efforts in their county.
This is a statewide initiative to build relationships between the foundation and counties to help fund Ag in the Classroom programs in counties.
Contact the GFB Field Services Dept. at 478-474-8411 for information on how a county Farm Bureau can set up a fund through the GFB Foundation to finance local ag literacy projects. Contact Justine Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-536- 3461 for more information on the Hall GROWS program.