BEEF Daily

14 Ways To Teach Kids About Agriculture


Now that school is back in session, kids are being immersed in science, math and reading lessons, but what about food lessons?

Now that school is back in session, kids are being immersed in science, math and reading lessons, but what about food lessons? Food blogger Jamie Oliver, who has in recent months attacked the beef industry for lean finely textured beef, says that elementary school students in the U.S. only receive an average of 3.4 hours of food education each year. No wonder we have an obesity epidemic in our country! Our kids aren’t getting the information they need!

The best place to start in food education for kids is to go back to the beginning and teach them about agriculture and where their food comes from. Food Tank, a food think tank, has compiled a list of 14 programs all over the globe that educate kids about agriculture.

To name a few, the list includes: the Edible Schoolyard Project, which teaches kids how to garden in California; Farm Africa, which offers farm training for rural Kenyan youth; The Farming Kindergarten, which offers Vietnamese kids food and a safe outdoor playground; and Green Youth Farm, which hires Chicago-based youth to manage an organic farm. Read about others here.

I think one of the best and most popular programs is the National Agriculture In The Classroom program, which has individual tiers in each state. I was excited when the South Dakota program selected my children’s book, “Levi’s Lost Calf,” to be part of its curriculum in 2012.


Read more on this topic: Looking At Ranch Life Through The Eyes Of A Child 


Basically, any farmer or rancher who wants to participate can simply call their state’s program manager and request a packet that they can take into a school. In South Dakota, for example, the packet comes with a copy of the book, a responsibility chart for the kids, a sketch for the kids to color, and a few other activities that get them thinking about ranch life, beef and how to live life following, “the cowboy way.”

I believe education in our schools is so important, and I’m always working to line up book readings and lessons in schools when I travel. It can be tricky to get into schools sometimes because the teachers are required to stick to specific lesson plans in order to meet government requirements for testing. However, once you get into a school and talk about your life on the ranch, the teachers seem to really appreciate the lesson offered, and I feel it leaves a lasting impression on the kids.

Have you participated in an ag in the classroom visit? If so, how did it go? How did the kids like it? Do you agree that education of our young people is a critical component of promoting agriculture? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 5

Sam L (not verified)
on Sep 9, 2013

Credit where credit is due, Jamie Oliver is a world famous Chef not a "Food blogger" You do yourself a disservice Amanda by saying that and you look very unprofessional and poorly researched too

on Sep 12, 2013

Jamie Oliver is an a$$

JRB (not verified)
on Sep 9, 2013

I have made many, many classroom visits. Not only to the students learn, but we find that the teachers are often "new learners" and have very limited information about agriculture.
For the past two years I have been reading to all the pre-school classes in our school district. I wear my "cowgirl "clothes, which always impresses them, read a story and lead an activity based on the book that was read. My basket of ranch "artifacts" is always well received as a hands-on learning tool.

on Sep 9, 2013

Great topic!

Where I live, the Oregon Beef Council organizes a "Beef Blitz" each spring, where students from Oregon State and adults from cattle operations travel to Portland (very metropolitan) and work with Home Ec classes in middle schools for a day. We prepare a recipe using beef, the kids help prep it and then at the end everyone gets to try it and take the recipe card home at the end of the day. It promotes beef consumption, is a time where we can share great facts about beef and how healthy it is, and once the kids taste it and realize how much they like it - they're excited to go home and share it with their families!

Susan (not verified)
on Sep 11, 2013

I work for a conservation district in Oklahoma. We have created an outdoor classroom for students to visit with a butterfly garden, pond, native grass and forb planting, raised gardening beds, OK crop beds and a sidewalk look with animal tracks and leaf imprints. Our activities help students and teachers connect their food with the farm. We also visit school classrooms teaching plant science, non-point source pollution of streams, animal skins and skulls, and geology. For the little ones we present puppet shows to teach them about science and the farm.

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What's BEEF Daily?

BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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