2022 Partnership in Agricultural Literacy Award 

The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) and National Grange Foundation have selected New Mexico agriculture education instructor Shae Devers, and her Valencia FFA Chapter, as the recipient of its 2022 Partnership in Agricultural Literacy (PAL) Award.

Devers and her Valencia FFA chapter won the award for their dedication and efforts in a collaborative project with New Mexico Agriculture in the Classroom program. Valencia FFA members attended training sessions with New Mexico AITC program leaders and then scheduled programs in local elementary school classrooms to present agricultural literacy lessons based on the book “First Peas to the Table” using standards-based agriculture in the classroom lessons and sharing their own FFA experiences. The six-part project uses props the students bring to showcase their FFA opportunities and connections to local agriculture. In 2021 the chapter members presented to 32 classroom and more than 650 students.

By having Valencia FFA members share their passion, it sparks interest into those young minds and will encourage them to follow what intrigues them enough to explore all the many options FFA has to offer. Each of those elementary classes that they visit are feeder programs into two main high schools with active FFA programs. The likeliness of those students attending high school and signing up for an ag education program and joining FFA increases every subsequent visit the chapter makes. The Valencia FFA members leave lasting impressions about agriculture and supporting farmers and ranchers.

This year, Valencia FFA plans to increase their reach by visiting 80 classrooms with the new project, “Right This Very Minute”. In doing so, their total student impact is anticipated to exceed 2,000 students. In this project, students will learn more about where their food comes from on the farm, how its packaged and shipped, as well as learning about the basic concept and structure of the water cycle. 


Grange Grassroots Activism Scholarship

Deadline:  February 1- Sponsored by Potomac Grange #1, Washington, DC

Grange Grassroots Activism Scholarship Application

Any Youth, Young Adult, or Junior that has applied to attend the Washington DC Experience is eligible to apply for the Grange Grassroots Activism Scholarship. The scholarship application with supplemental materials will be submitted to the National Grange Junior Director and will be passed along to the National Grange Legislative Director and Potomac Grange #1 for selection. Two travel/lodging scholarships, not to exceed $800, will be awarded.

Applicants must submit ALL of the following:

  1. The completed application form.
  2. Junior Members:
    1. Submit an Op-ed you wrote advocating on behalf of the Grange for a specific issue that is affecting your home, school, or community.
      1. Include the following in your statement
        a. What the issue is
        b. Use your words to give your opinion on the topic
        c. Decide how the issue can be resolved with the Grange’s help
        d. Convince me to help you resolve the issue
  3. An essay about what you want to gain by attending the Washington Experience
  4. Two letters of reference; one from your State Master/President, State, Subordinate/Community, or Pomona Legislative Director or State Youth Director or from a National Grange Officer demonstrating your character, ability for engagement and activism and interest in Grange policy. The second letter can be from anyone outside of the family unit.

Grange Grassroots Activism Scholarship Application

Potomac Grange #1 is the DC National Ag in the Classroom Lead

Conference Scholarships Available
White-Reinhardt Applications Due Oct. 15

Have an idea for an agricultural literacy project? Want to attend the 2022 National Agriculture in the Classroom national conference in Saratoga Springs, New York, but can’t afford to do so? The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBFA) is now accepting applications for the White-Reinhardt Grant program for agricultural literacy projects and the Scholarship program for support to attend the national conference. Applications for both programs are due Oct. 15, and go through a review process involving the applicant’s state Farm Bureau.

Learn more and apply for a White-Reinhardt Grant today!

Learn more and apply for a White-Reinhardt Scholarship today!

For more information contact [email protected]

Kansas Educator Selected as 2021 Agriculture Advocate of the Year

The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) and National Grange Foundation have selected Kansas agriculture educator Serita Blankenship as the recipient of its 2021 Partnership in Agricultural Literacy (PAL) Award, formerly known as the Agricultural Advocate Award.

Blankenship of Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) won the award for her 20-plus-year commitment to educating Kansas students at the elementary and secondary level about the importance of agriculture with programs like “Be Ag Wise” and the rollout of the Kailey’s Agriculture Adventure book series and related lesson plans. The “Be Ag Wise” program lasted more than a decade, was one of the largest, most successful projects Blankenship assisted in implementing, was a joint effort between Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (KFAC) and KFB and provided workshops in four locations across the state each year where more than 1,000 educators learned agriculture theme-related lessons in a train-the-trainer format.

“In the short time I have been with the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, I have learned that Serita shares KFAC’s passion for Kansas agriculture and commitment to increasing agricultural literacy,” wrote KFAC Executive Director Nancy Zenger-Beneda in her letter of support. “Her guidance on our education committee and the agriculture education task force has been a big part of our successes.”

“The Grange Foundation is proud to present this award each year, and winners like Serita Blankenship keep amazing us with their passion, creativity and impact on both the children and educators they serve,” said Betsy Huber, Grange Foundation president.

“National Agriculture in the Classroom and state and territory Agriculture in the Classroom programs depend on educators like Serita Blankenship to deliver agricultural literacy outreach to students in innovative ways in their communities,” NAITCO President Tammy Maxey said. “Her passion for reaching students with reading programs and involving older students to teach younger students is inspiring.”

Blankenship helped distribute to educators the Kailey’s Agriculture Adventure book series published by KFB. This series, written by Dan Yunk, consists of seven books and follows the travels of Kailey as she visits the farm to learn more about agriculture. Each book in the series has lesson plans, resources, activities, fun facts, and a glossary. Blankenship was an integral part of putting all of these pieces together, as well as getting the books and resources in the hands of Kansas teachers.

In addition, she has been implementing a “leading kids to agriculture knowledge” program in which she taught more than 380 high school student leaders the importance of agriculture and educating the next generation about this important industry. Many of those students were then able to take those lessons to elementary schools and teach younger kids about agriculture once again following Blankenship’s “train-the-trainer” model.

Blankenship has served on the KFAC Education Committee and has been a staff liaison for the KFB’s Women’s Committee, whose volunteers promote agriculture education as one of their top priorities. She is the farm safety manager at KFB and has led thousands of students in hands-on, farm safety demonstrations over the years. She has also presented at many agriculture education venues in order to reach broader audiences, including during National Agriculture Hall of Fame events, American Royal BBQ Kid’s Area, Kansas State Fair, K-12 schools, kids ag safety days, teacher in-service trainings, Kansas State Capitol South Step Friday events, and has appeared in several agriculture education spots with a celebrity chef on a local television station.

The National Grange Foundation supports youth development, promotes agriculture education and research, improves communities, and fosters culture, heritage, citizenship, and charitable activities. Founded in 1867, the National Grange was formed as a nationwide organization with a local grassroots focus. Its members are given the opportunity to learn and grow to their full potential as citizens and leaders. To learn more about the National Grange, please visit www.nationalgrange.org.

NAITCO is a non-profit organization representing state Agriculture in the Classroom programs in most of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It provides web-based pre-kindergarten-12th grade lesson plans and companion resources, a national conference, national awards programs, and professional development opportunities for state and territory Agriculture in the Classroom programs. Its mission is to increase agricultural literacy through Pre-K-12 education. To learn more about NAITCO, please visit www.agclassroom.org.

2021 Mid-Atlantic Grange Leaders Conference

Online Event Registration Form
REGISTRATION CLOSES AT 11:59 p.m. Eastern on February 23, 2021

Potomac Grange #1 in Washington, DC, is pleased to host the 2021 Mid-Atlantic Grange Leaders Conference as a virtual event.

Complete with presentations by several National Directors and Officers, this 2-day event March 19-20 is open to ANY Grange member or prospective member for the low registration price of $10. See the full schedule here (link)*.

Participants will receive a registration package by mail prior to the event, including two agriculture craft items, community service materials and 12 BINGO cards for use during “flash games” throughout the weekend, for which winner will receive $25 or $50 gift cards!

Take this opportunity to engage with the organization, learn to lead and enjoy fellowship with fellow Grangers. “See” you in March!


Utah Farmer, Honored as 2020 Agriculture Advocate of the Year

The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) and National Grange selected Utah farmer and Utah Farm Bureau Women’s Committee District Chair Sara Harward as the winner of its Agriculture Advocate Award for 2020.

Harward won the award for her personal and professional educational literacy outreach efforts involving teachers and students. She was honored virtually on Monday June 8 via Facebook Live because the 2020 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah where she was to be recognized was canceled due to COVID-19. You can see the presentation at https://agclassroom.org/get/advo_vol.cfm

As a Utah Farm Bureau Women’s Committee District chair, Harward helps organize classroom agricultural literacy efforts by pairing an American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s ‘Book of the Year’ with a related Utah Agriculture in the Classroom lesson, and coalescing volunteers to present both to teachers and students across the state. As a sweet corn and pumpkin farmer, she and her husband host thousands of teachers and students at their farm each year for fall farm field days and summer farm camps for youth.

“Talking with Sara is a truly enjoyable experience as she shares stories about the work she conducts to promote agricultural literacy and the people from whom she draws inspiration,” wrote Utah Agriculture in the Classroom Director Denise Stewardson in her letter of support. Harward’s “contributions are exemplary. For example, her work in organizing the county farm field days and hosting nearly 3,800 people at her farm annually is work that is used by other county Extension agents and Farm Bureau members as they organize their respective events.”

“The Grange Foundation is proud to present this award each year, and winners like Sara Harward keep amazing us with their passion, creativity and impact on both the children and educators they serve,” said Betsy Huber, Grange Foundation president.

“National Agriculture in the Classroom and state Agriculture in the Classroom programs depend on volunteers like Sara Harward to deliver agricultural literacy outreach to schools in their communities,” NAITCO President Will Fett said. “Agriculture in the Classroom’s strength lies in its grassroots network of volunteers like Ms. Harward who are passionate about spreading agricultural literacy in schools.”
Harward has promoted agricultural literacy in Utah for more than a decade. As the Women’s Chair for Utah County Farm Bureau for five years, she was instrumental in organizing efforts to teach students and teachers about the importance of agriculture in their daily lives through the county Farm Bureau’s agricultural literacy program. For the past four years, her role has become even more important—and impactful—as the State Farm Bureau Women’s Committee District 4 chair.

As farmers, Harward and her husband promote agricultural literacy by offering their farm for the county’s fall farm field days, hosting two, week-long farm camps for youth, and creating a fall agritourism experience. For the past decade, Harward Farms has been the location for a daylong agricultural education experience for local schoolchildren and teachers. For four consecutive days, the Harwards transform their farm and host approximately 3,800 teachers and students. Harward helps the county Extension agent organize 14 educational stations and their respective volunteers including Utah Farm Bureau, FFA chapters, Utah Wool Growers, Utah Pork Producers, Utah mink growers, Utah Tart Cherry Commission, the local water conservation district, and other commodity groups.
In 2013, Harward created an on-site summer farm camp during which she offers two, one-week sessions for children ages 4-11, and the 60 slots per week fill up immediately. She hires local FFA students, teachers, and community members to serve as instructors and helpers so that children can learn in small groups. Although she is busy managing all of the camp’s activities, she takes on the role of teacher for the nutrition and safety lessons.

Potomac Grange Partners with Ag in the Classroom

Georgia educator Carol Baker-Dunn received the 2017 Agriculture Advocate Award which is sponsored by the National Grange

Recently, Potomac Grange President Joan Smith attended the 2017 National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) conference where more than 450 educators from around the country learned how to use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and more.

The conference held three days of workshops showing kindergarten through 12th grade teachers how to use agriculture to teach core subjects.  The conference received partial funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food & Agriculture (USDA/NIFA) and various other sponsors like The National Grange.


To Ensure the Best Outcomes for Rural Americans, Better Provisions Needed in Federal Broadband Plan

By Joan C. Smith, President, Potomac Grange #1

Today’s global economy demands that every participant have access to reliable, high-speed Internet in order to attain a level playing field to actively participate in the virtual business marketplace. Although rural America constitutes 15% of our total population, it is these men and women and families who keep food on our tables, fuel in our cars and provide energy for our homes and businesses. We owe it to them to implement the infrastructure to provide broadband internet services.   Americans living in rural areas still lack access to this vital resource.

Historically, rural areas have been the last to gain access to new conveniences. Broadband Internet, however, is not merely a convenience—it is essential to the business of agriculture, farming and ranching and nearly every other aspect of life in rural America. Rural communities are profoundly and adversely affected by poor access to high-speed Internet. Right now we have the chance to change that once and for all with appropriate reforms during Phase II of the Connect America Fund (CAF) plan; it’s up to the Federal Communications Commission to make the right choices.

There’s a lot at stake with the CAF initiative, so we must get it right; the consequences, good or bad, could stretch over decades. The National Grange has always advocated for updating rural infrastructure, as it did for the railroads and rural postal delivery, and now the emphases is with rural broadband Internet. Modern farming and ranching is like any other business; it relies heavily on technology and information. Dairy production and crop yields can be monitored and data shared in real time between different farms and the marketplace. Commodities prices can also be followed to help determine what crops to plant and when to harvest.

CAF was first developed in 2011, with the goal of connecting as many as 7 million un-served rural Americans by 2017 and all of the country’s 19 million un-served individuals living in rural areas by 2020; yet it still is not finalized and hasn’t even begun to be put into practice. CAF calls for $1.8 billion in funding, but how best to use this funding to effectively build out broadband infrastructure to rural areas is the real issue at hand. Regrettably, it seems significant changes need to be made to the existing plan during Phase II to deliver the most essential outcomes.

The plan is centered on more than doubling required download speed from 4 Mbps to 10 Mbps. That would be fantastic, but it won’t make a big difference if other related aspects of the CAF plan are not improved as well.

Consider the way in which broadband coverage is measured. Right now, “Census blocks” are used, and as long as part of the block has access, it is counted as being covered. Yet within each “block” there are households left without the service, perpetuating the digital divide for those individuals and families while keeping up the appearance of closing the gap in access. Higher standards and independent verification of different providers’ broadband coverage claims can ameliorate this problem.

Moreover, unlicensed, fixed Wireless Internet Services, or WISPs, are being treated as suitable alternatives to real facilities-based fiber infrastructure, not true. The FCC’s regulatory assumption is that a WISP provides reliable connectivity to an entire area, but that just isn’t accurate. Capacity can be very limited in these networks, and there are issues like line-of-sight (LOS) and spectrum interference. WISPs really aren’t acceptable as primary infrastructure, but can be useful in a supporting function.

Providers still need better incentives to build out the infrastructure to reach rural areas, the most isolated, and hard-to-reach areas. Connect America Fund (CAF) resources can be used to share some of the financial burden for those efforts. Providers should be held to elevated but reasonable standards and need enough flexibility to handle the unexpected hindrances that are bound to occur with a project like this.

Finally, let’s extend the planned funding period to a full ten (10) years to ensure this work is steadily and properly carried out.

Perhaps most important, our families and communities can be strengthened through better access and higher download speeds. Jobs can be created and local economies improved. Services that eliminate some travel over large distances in many rural areas, such as telemedicine and distance learning, can save energy, develop a better rural workforce and improve quality of life. The majority of our nation’s farmers and ranchers are small business owners, internet utilization informs them of new agricultural technologies to enhance their production thereby providing higher yields to meet our growing demand for food, fiber and fuel.

Rural Americans need and deserve equal access to top-notch broadband Internet service. As a fifth-generation Granger myself, I urge the FCC to enact the “right rules and regulations” to get the most out of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II represents.

Joan C. Smith is President of Potomac Grange #1, Washington, DC. The National Grange, founded in 1867, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan fraternal organization that advocates for rural America and agriculture. With a strong history in grassroots activism, family values and community service, the Grange is part of more than 2,100 hometowns across the United States.