It’s that time of the year again, when children go back to school and teachers search for interesting ways to teach an ever-increasing sterile and prescribed curriculum. What if students could learn the same social studies, math and science lessons in a new, hands-on manner that engaged their sense of curiosity? That’s exactly what New Mexico Ag in the Classroom (NMAITC) offers to teachers and homeschoolers free of charge. NMAITC started as a volunteer-led effort by NMF&LB to teach students about agriculture.
Originally spear-headed by Grace Cain, its popularity grew so much that now, three decades later, we have two full-time employees spreading the good word about agriculture throughout the state. NMAITC Director Traci Curry has years of experience as a teacher and is as at home teaching students about the life cycle of chile as she is leading a teacher workshop showing instructors how NMAITC lessons meet Common Core requirements. Traci Tuttle – van der Ploeg, NMAITC Coordinator, has years of Farm Bureau experience as an NMSU Collegiate Farm Bureau member originally from Valencia County and is adept at taking current agricultural issues and making them relevant to students’ lives.
They spend a significant part of their time in classrooms and are often met by common misconceptions – chocolate milk comes from brown cows, sheep produce cotton, and that all corn is sweet corn. They use these opportunities to talk about dairies and dairy products, wool and New Mexico’s historic sheep industry, and animal nutrition and the role of field corn in ruminant rations.
Not only do Traci and Traci present to classrooms, they also conduct hands-on activities at county fairs and explain agricultural employment availabilities at career days. Because the need is so great to spread agricultural awareness, and the requests are so numerous for assistance, the NMF&LB has expanded its Foundation. Currently, NMF&LB is in the process of creating a separate board of directors for the Foundation. The goal is to bring together individuals who understand the Foundation and NMAITC’s mission and goals, who are experts in different areas of the ag industry and are passionate about educating individuals on agriculture. Using the board members’ expertise, NMAITC will benefit from using their combined knowledge for program materials, resources and classroom presentations.
Through a selection process, individuals will be chosen to be on the board, serving as ambassadors in the community, increasing NMAITC’s presence and creating additional funding venues. They will also participate in meetings and provide valuable input during the decision-making process and review important financial information, overseeing that the organization is fully funded.
Funding for the organization is crucial, allowing NMAITC to conduct more teacher trainings, provide financial support to teachers wanting to attend the National AITC Conferences, and purchase more resources to share with educators across the state. If you are interested in supporting this worthwhile cause, checks can be made to NMAITC and sent to 2220 N. Telshor, Las Cruces, NM 88011.