D.C. Outlook: Agriculture in the classroom

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 16, 2002


Louisiana farmers are rooted in our state’s heritage and economy. Our farmers produce a major share of the nation’s sugar, rice, soybeans, cotton and shellfish, and represent a tradition that has been passed down through generations of Louisiana families. Although Louisiana farms remain productive today, nearly two-thirds of our state’s population live in urban settings and will likely never visit a farm or understand the important role farming plays in the lives of all Louisianians.

In 2001, agricultural commodities in Louisiana accounted for nearly $8 billion – nearly half of the state’s economy. Thousands of families living in parishes throughout the state depend on farming for their livelihood. Recognizing the hard work of these farming families is critical to better understanding our agriculture industry as a whole.

One place to build a better understanding of agriculture and cultivate an interest in farming is in the classroom. By exploring the day-to-day operations of a Louisiana farm, children learn how biology, nutrition, meteorology, management, economics and chemistry come together to produce the food on our plates, the milk we drink, the fiber in our clothes and the lumber that is the foundation of the houses we live in. By teaching children about farming, we foster a respect for the industry and potentially inspire children to pursue careers in agriculture.

The Louisiana Farm Bureau, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, educators, and farmers themselves have developed an “Ag in the Classroom” program to increase understanding of agriculture among the youth and teachers of Louisiana. Since 1986, this program has provided Louisiana teachers with the tools and resources they need to incorporate agricultural studies into their daily classroom curriculum.

Free, hands-on teacher workshops give educators across the state access to new agriculture education resources to learn creative ways to include Louisiana-specific information in their lesson plans. In addition, “Ag in the Classroom” conducts in-service training throughout the school year as well as presenting sessions at statewide conferences.

Louisiana farmers have withstood the test of time – the elements and the economy – better than any other industry, proving we can all learn something from these hardworking men and women. I fully support programs like “Ag in the Classroom” that work to build a bridge between two of our state’s most important resources – agriculture and education. I encourage teachers across Louisiana to take full advantage of this useful programs.

For more information on the Louisiana “Ag in the Classroom” program, visit the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation’s website at www.lfbf.org.

JOHN BREAUX represents Louisiana in the United States Senate.