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Volunteers to help educate about agriculture

March 6, 2013
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

JAMESTOWN - Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County and the Chautauqua County Farm Bureau is proud to coordinate the annual Ag Literacy Week Program.

Annually in celebration of National Agriculture Week from March 18 through 22, volunteers throughout New York State will read a book with an agricultural theme to second graders. Students and teachers will also benefit from hands-on lessons and receive follow up activities. The book will be given to the school library with a bookplate recognizing the donor and New York Ag Literacy Week. More than 1,500 books were donated last year while thousands of second graders participated in fun and educational activities.

This year's book, "The Beeman" by Laurie Krebs and Valeria Cis, is on the production of honey. This children's book uses rhyming text and colorful illustrations to show all of the aspects of beekeeping. A young boy tells the story of how his grandfather produces honey, from the clothing he wears and the equipment he uses to the honey extraction process. Not only does this charming book explain the methods of honey production, but it also educates about the various types of bees and how they work together to produce this sweet agricultural product. The book concludes with six pages of additional information about bees, beekeeping techniques and equipment, honey, pollination and bee dancing.

Cornell Cooperative Extension regularly extends its services to celebrate and promote agriculture. There are many benefits to the Ag Literacy Week program. Reading to youth and providing hands on activities is one way to increase knowledge of agriculture and nutrition allowing individuals to make informed personal choices about diet and health. Informed citizens will be able to participate in establishing the policies to support a competitive agricultural industry in this country and abroad. Reading to youth helps them continue to explore career choices and opportunities. A variety of agricultural careers exist including farm production, agribusiness management and marketing, agricultural research and engineering, food science, processing and retailing, banking, landscape architecture, urban planning, energy and other fields.

Agriculture is too important a topic to be taught only to the small percentage of students considering careers in agriculture and pursuing vocational agricultural studies. During Ag Literacy Week, volunteers step up to help educate second graders in Chautauqua County about the benefits of agriculture. Agricultural literacy includes an understanding of agriculture's history and current economic, social and environmental significance to all Americans. This understanding includes some knowledge of food and fiber production, processing and domestic and international marketing.

"Locally, over 1500 students were read to in first through third grade levels last year," Local coordinator Ginny Carlberg said. "Over 23 volunteers read the book, and all of the books were donated by local farms, businesses and individuals. We thank our sponsors, volunteers and schools for this opportunity to talk about agriculture with our children and look forward to another successful year."

To help the Cornell Cooperative Extension and Farm Bureau provide this unique opportunity, sign up to read or sponsor a book for a local school. A sponsorship or volunteer form may be acquired from a local Farm Bureau member, the 4-H Cloverleaf, an Ag News publication or by calling Cornell Cooperative Extension at 664-6502 ext. 202.



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