May 2013
Issue: 6
MN Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson assists students at The School of Engineering and Arts discover the source of their pizza toppings.
In This Issue
Teacher Feature
FFA Ag Literacy Challange
Fantastic Resources
National Conference
Thank you Charlene
Welcome Joel
MN Farmers Feed Us
10 Plants Challenge
Upcoming Events
Like us on Facebook 
Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom
We have a feeling that warm, sunny days will not be taken for granted this spring and summer here in the snowy state of Minnesota.  Take full advantage of these upcoming seasonal days by planting a garden, visiting farmers markets or seeking out the resources in your community to learn about agriculture and appreciate its role in our survival!

Teacher Feature


Featured Teacher  - Ms. Cara Rieckenberg

Program Coordinator at the School of Engineering and Arts, a K-5 magnet school within the Robbinsdale School District


Why did you choose to become an educator?

Initially I graduated from Iowa State with a degree in Animal Ecology and Environmental Science. After working at an environmental focused camp for a few years, I decided to return to school for my teaching license as I knew that being surrounded by the energy and excitement of children learning was something I needed to do. 

How has agriculture and the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Program impacted your students and instruction?

I grew up in South Central Illinois where agriculture was a part of my life and a part of our school culture. Working in suburban schools, I have come to realize the enormous disconnect between students (and staff) and agriculture. When asked where their food comes from, students respond with 'the grocery story'. I have worked hard, along with my staff, to teach kids about all aspects of agriculture from planting to livestock to the engineering behind it all. The MN Agriculture in the Classroom Program has helped me raise awareness within our students and staff through the magazines (AgMags) as well as the funding opportunities with the grants.

What advice do you have for other teachers on implementing agriculture into their classroom/program?

Students need to be know where their food comes. These are the people that will be making decisions for agriculture and how our food is and is not grown. If we 'grow' a nation that does not have this awareness, what decisions will they make? 

I also recommend getting your hands dirty and teaching kids how to plant and raise their own food. It can be the most powerful of experiences...for you and them!

Ms. Rickenberg's Outstanding Agriculture Applications!

This past National Agriculture Day, we were fortunate to have the Commissioner come to our school to talk with our 2nd and 5th grade students about what agriculture is and what it is not as well as how engineering has radically influenced change within agriculture. As a new school, we are in the midst of creating outdoor learning spaces and designing gardens. Our 2nd and 3rd grade students have been planting vegetables and native prairie plants which will eventually end up in raised bed vegetable gardens and prairie patches outside.

Ms. Cara Rieckenberg shares her enthusiasm for agriculture!


FFA Agriculture Literacy Challenge
The Minnesota FFA Agricultural Literacy Challenge encourages FFA chapters to teach others about agriculture. FFA members have spent the last year teaching elementary school students about where their food comes from, bringing livestock animals to urban schools to educate students and teachers, informing adults about the vast industry of agriculture, and developing garden projects for community members to experience the food production process.  These are just a few examples of the many ways  FFA members are developing leadership skills while growing agricultural literacy.  The winners of the 2013 FFA Ag Literacy Challenge were announced at the 84th Minnesota FFA Convention.  Congratulations to:
Martin County West FFA Chapter
Morris Area FFA Chapter
Hutchinson FFA Chapter

Martin County West FFA member Kennedy Janssen educates students in their Kid's Gardening Program. FFA members deliver lessons on plants, insects, nutrition, and leadership to 2nd-6th graders throughout the summer.  Each student plants and maintains a 6 x 12 foot raised bed. The elementary students get to harvest and take home whatever is produced in their own raised bed.


Fantastic Resources   

Minnesota Agriculture & You - Fun, Facts & Food

This bright eye-catching resource highlights food produced in Minnesota and the role a fresh, nutritious food supply can play in a healthy lifestyle.  Available FREE on the MN Ag in the Classroom website.

Website - 9 Billion Mouths to Feed: The Future of Farming
This video series examines the challenges in producing food to meet the global demand and demonstrates how UC Davis researchers and students are working together to develop innovative ways to feed the world without depleting our resources, while also training the next generation of farmers in sustainable, high-tech farming practices.
Garden Genetics
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) describes this resource as using "a series of activities and inquiry-based experiments with familiar foods to teach genetics while helping students make connections to ecology, evolution, plant biology, and even social science." Available online

Children's Literature - Oh Say Can you Seed?

ISBN 0-375-81095-1

This Dr. Seuss inspired primary book helps readers understand the basics of flowering plants. The Cat in the Hat uses rhyming phrases to discuss plant parts, seeds, photosynthesis, pollination and fertilization.  Find this book in the MN Ag in the Classroom Book Bundle.
National Conference!

June 26-28, 2013

Marriott City Center

Minneapolis, MN 


 Hotel rooms, workshops and tours are filling up fast for the Agriculture in the Classroom National Conference in Minneapolis!  Register ASAP to take advantage of engaging presenters, tours, keynote speakers and networking events.  The 2013 Ag in the Classroom National Conference is open to educators, volunteers, agricultural advocates and anyone else interested in discovering new possibilities for advancing agricultural literacy. 

  Register Now!


Thank you

Charlene Klein!

 Charlene Klein has served as the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation Executive Director for the past two years.  We appreciate the tremendous work she has done on behalf of this organization!  Best wishes to Charlene as she assumes her new role with UnitedHealth Group.

Welcome Joel Mathiowetz!


We are excited to introduce Joel Mathiowetz as the new Executive Director for the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation.   Joel will begin this position on June 1, 2013.
MN Farmers Feed Us eBites
Check out eBites from Minnesota Farmers Feed Us. This consumer based e-newsletter features informational articles, recipes, healthy eating tips and a MAITC Series!  Check out our contributions: Ice Cream in a Bag, Garden in a Glove and Wad-a-Watershed!
10 Plants Challenge 
The 10 Plants Challenge is an educational contest with the goal of engaging youth throughout the state to learn and appreciate the impact of the 10 Plants that have changed Minnesota.
Youth under 18 years of age are encouraged to submit ideas for the best 10 Plants Challenge game or online activity. Win an ipad or $500 certificate for Apple products! For more information go to:
The first two individuals to respond with the correct answers will win a fantastic sun hat courtesy of the MDA!
Legumes like beans, peas and alfalfa add which nutrient to the soil? 
Send answers to
Congratulations to the March trivia winners Sarah Britton from Janesville and Sarah Kuschel from Sebeka.  Both Sarahs knew the correct terms for young livestock species: calf, piglet, lamb, foal and poult.
Upcoming Events
May 17, 2013
Morris FFA visit to Risen Christ Elementary School
Minneapolis, MN
June 3, 2013
Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation Board Meeting
St. Paul, MN 
June 26-28, 2013
Agriculture in the Classroom National Conference
Minneapolis, MN


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Sue Knott                                                Al Withers
MAITC Education Specialist                      MAITC Program Director                  
651-201-6486                                           651-201-6886