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Agriculture literacy efforts take center stage in new statewide organization

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 9:34 a.m. CDT

A new, statewide organization was launched recently aimed at helping Iowans understand more about how and where their food and fuel is produced.

Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF), with a primary focus on youths, is a collaboration of business, education and the agriculture industry to promote agriculture literacy and its global significance in Iowa schools.

“It is an exciting time to be involved in agriculture right now,” said IALF Chairwoman Joyce Hoppes with the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “Students have the chance to pursue exciting careers in agriculture and Iowa is at the heart of agriculture innovation, but that starts with knowing what opportunities are available. It is this next generation that is going to be challenged with feeding the world’s growing population and finding new energy sources through raw agriculture assets. It’s important to have a core understanding of those opportunities and the issues that will set them up for future success.”

IALF will serve as a centralized resource to help increase the knowledge and awareness of today’s agriculture and its importance to students.

“The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation has been amplifying agriculture literacy efforts for many years and this new not-for-profit will continue to expand on those efforts,” said IALF Executive Director Will Fett. “Some regions in Iowa have successful, long-standing Ag in the Classroom and other agriculture education programs in place. IALF will support those existing programs and help ensure that all Iowa communities have access to high quality educational programs that apply STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts through agriculture. IALF will take some of those best practices from existing agriculture education programs, incorporate business needs related to STEM and present a unified approach with benchmarks from a statewide perspective.”

IALF will provide teacher and volunteer training workshops, educational materials aligned with the Iowa Core and STEM. Workshops for teachers and students will be available throughout the school year and into the summer months. Upcoming workshop information will be available on the website IowaAgLiteracy.org.

“Ensuring our growing global population has enough safe, affordable and nutritious food will require students to understand all aspects of agriculture and how they can become involved, now and in the future,” said Amanda Rinehart, IALF board member from DuPont Pioneer. “IALF was launched to help provide access to agriculture curriculum across the state.”

IALF is governed by a 10-person board including the following founders, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Corn Growers, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Silos and Smokestacks Foundation. Additional board members include Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, DuPont Pioneer, GROWMARK, Iowa Beef Industry Council and a representative from an education advisory council.

About the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation

IALF serves as a central resource for educators and volunteers who want to teach Iowa’s students about agriculture. The mission is to educate Iowans, with a focus on youths, regarding the breadth and global significance of agriculture. Iowa is a leading producer of agricultural products that are essential to feed a growing world population, estimated to reach more than 9 billion by 2050.

IALF believes it is important for all Iowans to understand the essential role agriculture has in their lives. IALF will support existing agriculture education efforts such as FFA, 4-H and Ag in the Classroom.

IALF was created through a joint effort of agricultural stakeholders, including Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Silos and Smokestacks Foundation, DuPont Pioneer, GROWMARK and Iowa Beef Industry Council. For more information visit IALF online at www.IowaAgLiteracy.org, on Facebook, and Twitter.

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