Teachers can apply for Farm Bureau grants

Published 8:30 am Saturday, August 12, 2023

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Educators who want to start projects that help students understand agriculture are encouraged to apply for Virginia’s Agriculture in the Classroom’s educator grants.

Virginia AITC has over $30,000 available for the 2023-24 school year to support hands-on 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.

The deadline for grant applications is Oct. 13, and applications received by Aug. 15 will be eligible for AITC’s early decision. This expedited notification allows educators to begin their projects at the beginning of the school year. Educators who complete the application early will be notified by Sept. 8.

“School-age children in all grade levels across Virginia have an opportunity to investigate agriculture, whether by growing a garden, hatching chicks or even creating a community ag library,” said Tammy Maxey, Virginia AITC’s executive director. “This program increases awareness of how we interact with our environment and spurs ideas about how to meet our needs today and in the future.”

Grant projects may occur at school or in the community, and may include learning gardens, STEM integrations or unique agriculture experiences for students.

During last year’s program, AITC awarded 71 grants, reaching 25,000 youth. One grant project was led by Laura Dysart of Chesterfield County’s Salem Church Elementary School. For the Seed to Table School Garden project, students in each grade used seed kits to grow vegetables like cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes. Students also built a cucumber trellis and laundry line for the climbing vegetables, and were responsible for maintaining the school garden. They ate the garden produce in a salad, and even brought some of their harvested vegetables home.

“This has been such an exciting project for our students,” said Dysart, the school’s library assistant. “Students learned about the growing process from seed to table and expanded their interest in gardening and cultivating their own food. It was a huge success!”

To apply for a grant, or to learn more about educational activities available through Virginia AITC, visit virginia.agclassroom. org/teachers/grants.

In addition to the educator grants, AITC will be launching a hydroponics back-to-school giveaway in September. K-12 educators statewide will have an opportunity to enter a raffle for a HYVE® LF-ONE hydroponics system.