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Happy Spring!

Happy Spring or as I say to my own kids…I’m so excited to smell the dirt again!  As spring is springing into action, I (Toni Dauwalter) have been working with the teachers at Children of Tomorrow to plan their summer program ‘Locally Grown at Children of Tomorrow’ featuring MN Agriculture in the Classroom materials and lessons.

As the MN Agriculture in the Classroom Regional Curriculum Specialist in central MN my job is to help teachers incorporate agriculture into their classrooms to spread our mission ‘Agriculture is valued by ALL’. Growing up on a small farm in WI, I developed a strong appreciation for the land and animals.   It has shaped my life as an adult as well, not only does my work with MN Ag in the Classroom allow me to share this passion with teachers and kids, but I now have my own little hobby farm.  I live outside of Carver with chickens, bees, a small orchard and a large veggie garden.  I think it is exciting to watch something grow from a tiny seed to my dinner plate and my excitement is contagious!

While the teachers at COT are putting together a fun summer curriculum with information about farm animals, growing vegetables/fruits, machines on farms, pollinators, bees, grains, dirt (it’s going to be SO much fun!) and so much more it reminds me of why it is important for everyone to understand the importance the Ag industry has in our lives.  Making connections to the food we eat and the things around us helps make us more informed consumers and creates an awareness of the impact on our environment and natural resources.  A lot of people think that agriculture means only farmers, but it is so much more.  By helping students understand everything that makes up the agriculture field we are also sparking curiosity and bringing to life the many opportunities present in the agriculture industry.  Who knows, in the process we may be creating future farmers, plant scientists, animal nutritionists, environmental engineers, and many more ag industry leaders!!

MN Agriculture in the Classroom is doing so many things all around the state from Regional Specialists (like me) visiting classrooms to grantmaking for schools and teachers each fall and so much more.  On our website teachers can access over 400 lessons to use in their classroom and also sign up for MANY of our free resources including our Ag Mag for kids.  Share the links with teachers you know!  We also host agriculture teacher tours around the state, have monthly podcasts with a variety of agriculture industries and provide teacher workshops..  You can also check out our Foundation Tab  link to see the many sponsors that make our work possible.

So, I hope you are as excited as I am for the COT kids summer program ‘Locally Grown at COT’!  I know the teachers have exciting things planned and I will be stopping at each of the centers this summer to see it all in action and offer support.  As the beginning of spring is here, I hope you all enjoy seeing the fields and farmers and bees all spring into action around us!  While the grass starts to grow in yards and your kids are growing up too fast (I know mine are!), I wish to take a moment to thank the COT staff for helping to share our MN Ag in the Classroom mission ‘Agriculture is valued by ALL’ with your family.  Your kids are going to love the summer program!  Oh, and step outside today and see if you can smell the dirt…Happy Spring!