Grants available to help with agricultural learning

Published 10:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2022

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Educators interested in incorporating agricultural learning into their curricula can receive help from Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom’s educator grants.

With children farther removed than ever from farming and the sources of their food and fiber, AITC makes it a priority to provide educational experiences that help students gain a greater understanding of the importance of agriculture in their daily lives.

That’s why AITC is offering grants for K-12 educators who integrate agricultural concepts and experiences in their classrooms.

The organization has over $30,000 available for the 2022-23 school year to support classroom agricultural experiences. Teachers and other organizations like 4-H clubs and FFA chapters that work with schools and parent-teacher associations can apply for up to $500 for agriculture-related initiatives.

“Virginia AITC encourages educators to start the year with agriculture,” said Tammy Maxey, Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom’s executive director. “Providing educators and youth with opportunities to learn about planting, growing, taking care of animals and having hands-on learning experiences peaks student interest. Through the AITC grants program, thousands of youth, from elementary through high school, get a chance to learn about a variety of careers in agriculture needed to feed their community and the world.”

The deadline for grant applications is Oct. 14. However, applications received by Aug. 19 will be eligible for AITC’s early decision. This expedited notification allows educators to begin their projects in time for school openings. Educators who complete the application early will be notified by Sept. 9.

Grant projects may occur at school or virtually, covering topics like learning gardens, STEM integrations or providing unique agriculture experiences for students.

Previous grant projects included an initiative at Bessie Weller Elementary School in Staunton where students learned about the importance of water quality through a hands-on activity. In Fairfax County, Liberty Middle School’s engineering club students developed a hydroponics system to grow their own produce.

In Augusta County, an AITC grant funded an equipment purchase at Valley Career and Technical Center for students to improve their greenhouse operation — teaching them job skills and the importance of technology. Additionally, Evergreen Elementary School students in Chesterfield County created “decay buffet” to discover the benefits of compositing, and many applied what they learned to their own composting collection at home, Maxey said.

To learn more about educational activities available through Virginia AITC, or to apply for a grant, visit