BY AMY HIGGINS
Everyone who relies on stores to sell them food and fabric relies on agriculture as well, but there’s a chance they don’t know they do. Farmers and ranchers raise, cultivate, produce and sell everyday items that we all use on a regular basis; they, in fact, feed and clothe the world.
That’s why it’s important that all of us learn more about agriculture. A great place to start is in the classroom, which is why Agriculture in the Classroom has been helping educate teachers about farmers and ranchers and the products they produce since 1981.
Teachers from across the country will gather June 19-22 at the Embassy Suites in Loveland for the 2012 National AITC “Rendezvous in the Rockies.” Participants will learn and share ideas and resources. Attendees can then go back to their students and teach them what they learned.
Agriculture is essential in sustaining our rural communities, therefore the residents of these areas are more likely to understand the importance of farming and ranching. However, city dwellers and urbanites transplanted in smaller communities might not realize just how many ways agriculture contributes to our society. According to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado’s diverse agricultural and food industry generates economic activity to the tune of around $20 billion every year.
Information shared at the NAITC conference will enlighten and educate people from all walks of life, regardless of where they call home. From soil to history, livestock to developing healthy food choices, workshop topics at the NAITC conference will offer something for educators of students of all ages.
For example, kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers can learn ways to help their students better understand farming through projects and activities in a workshop called “Being a Friendly Farmer.” And in a workshop named “Chemistry, Fertilizer and the Environment,” eighth- through 12th -grade teachers will get ideas on how to use chemistry concepts to teach fertilizer and environmental education through hands-on activities and real-life examples. Several other workshops will be offered, many of which will benefit educators of adult students as well.
The “Rendezvous in the Rockies” itinerary also includes 11 Workshop-on-Wheels tours that focus on agricultural activities throughout the Loveland area. During these workshops participants can see firsthand how different agricultural entities operate. For example, participants will learn about the dairy and egg industries on the “Udderly Amazing Milk and Egg Tour” where they’ll visit Cozy Cow Dairy, Fritzler Corn Maze, Morning Fresh Farms and Bella Dairy.
The “Veggies!” Workshop-on-Wheels tour will be another information-packed experience. On this outing attendees will visit Fagerbergers Farm, Petrocco Farms, Sakata Farms, and Berry Patch Farms where they will learn about produce farming while enjoying some of the freshest, most delectable fruits and vegetables grown in the Centennial State.
Guests will also have the opportunity to sign up for pre-conference tours. One tour includes trips to the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park and the allegedly haunted Stanley Hotel where Stephen King got the inspiration to write his award-winning novel The Shining.
In another tour option, Poudre Wilderness Volunteers will teach participants how the Colorado wilderness is preserved after its resources are enjoyed. Guests will be taken to the Canyon Lakes to hike, identify flora and fauna and to learn about “leave no trace” principles.
The “Work on a Farm or Ranch for a Day” tour is designated for teachers only. Teachers will see how farmers and ranchers operate their businesses while gaining insight on what these agricultural experts need to accomplish in the month of June to keep their businesses on track.
Register for “Rendezvous in the Rockies” before April 16 and you will only pay $375 for full registration. The cost increases to $425 by May 14 and to $475 after May 14.
If you are registered with the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture as a Colorado teacher, you could win a scholarship to attend the conference. Simply apply online and an application and instructions will be emailed directly to you.
Educators, administrators, curriculum developers, guidance counselors and other educational professionals will benefit greatly from this four-day conference, which has co-op power supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission among its sponsors. With the variety of workshops and activities, the NAITC has ensured participants will enjoy learning more about U.S. agriculture. In turn, these ideas and concepts will be learned by students of all ages when they are applied to classroom curriculums.
Cooperatives are longtime backers of agriculture and education, and the Colorado Rural Electric Association contributed to the Ag in the Classroom program in 2012. By blending education and agriculture, students can learn to understand the importance of agriculture and help find ways to make this important industry flourish.
To register, reserve an exhibit space, apply for a scholarship or view a complete list of workshops and activities, visit reserve an exhibit space, appliy for a scholarship or view a complete list of workshops and activities, visit regonline.com/2012NAITC or call 970-881-2902.
RENDEZVOUS IN THE ROCKIES - JUNE 19-22
Tuesday, June 19
8 am-5 pm National Agriculture in the Classroom Annual Meeting
9 am-4 pm Optional pre-conference tours
12 pm NAITC member lunch
3-6 pm Silent auction set-up
3-8 pm Registration exhibitor move-in
5:30-6:30 pm Newcomer orientation (reception with NAITC members)
6-8 pm Silent auction opens
7 pm NAITC member dinner, off-site
Wednesday, June 20
6:30 am Registration
7:30 am General session with Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar Keynote Speaker: author, writer, photographer and rancher, Cat Urbigkit
9:30-11 am Workshops
11:20 am-12:05 pm Mini workshops
12:15 pm National teacher awards luncheon
2:15-3 pm Mini workshops
3:20-4:50 pm Workshops
5:30-6:30 pm Awards reception (invitation only)
6:45 pm Welcome to the West dinner
Thursday, June 21
7:45-8:45 am Board Workshop-on-Wheels buses
8-9 am Workshop-on-Wheels depart
6 pm All Workshop-on-Wheels tours conclude at the Embassy Suites Loveland Hotel, Spa and Conference Center.
Friday, June 22
7-8:45 am State awards and state tables breakfast
9:15-11:55 am Water Festivals
10:35 am Silent auction closes
12:15-1:45 pm Farewell luncheon with 2013 Minnesota presentation
3-7 pm Beer & Barley post-conference tour
Promoting Agriculture Culture