March 2012
Issue: 1
school garden 
In This Issue
Teacher Feature
Grant Winners
Fantastic Resources
Upcoming Events
Name the Newsletter!
Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Newsletter


Welcome to our first edition!

This e-newsletter is a new initiative to connect people across the state of Minnesota who share a passion for educating students about agriculture, food and natural resources.  Educators who have used innovative and exciting ideas to incorporate food, fiber, forests, flowers, and farming into their curriculum will describe their experiences and positive influence on students.  We will also identify and highlight educational resources in the form of lesson plans, websites, books, videos and any other materials that allow agriculture to be the perfect context for teaching science, social studies, language arts, math and health/nutrition.

Teacher Feature


Featured Teacher  - Ms. Jennifer Hansen

6th grade teacher at Willow Creek Intermediate School, Owatonna


Why did you choose to become an educator?

An old Japanese proverb states...To teach is to learn. I love the opportunity to learn something new and teaching gave me that opportunity along with helping kids find the love of learning something new each and every day.

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

Agriculture affects our everyday lives. My students have come to recognize and appreciate the many agricultural influences of Minnesota from the turkey farms, Bushel Boy Tomatoes, the pork producers that work with Hormel, the sugar beets of the Red River Valley to the local farmer that brings sweet corn to the local grocery store. My students are looking for agricultural connections to the world around them. There is a consciousness/awareness of their surroundings and how agriculture has effected that.

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

Agriculture in the classroom is a fun and easy tool to use in the classroom. It is not an additional program that needs a lot of prep work or planning on the part of the teacher. I am able to easily embed it into my regular lesson and it naturally meets the Minnesota State Social Studies Standards. The MAITC team has done all the work for you! They have beautifully designed the the AgMag and they come free three times a year to the teacher with lesson guides . The Food for Thought and posters also come with teacher friendly lesson plans that work great with our current Minnesota History/Geography curriculum.

Why do you believe it is important for our students to be agriculturally literate and aware in today's society?

Minnesota is an agrarian state. The majority of our industries are based on agricultural products. Food does not simply come to our tables from the store where we purchase it. It comes to us from farms around the state and around the country. My students need to know that the clothes they are wearing, the books they are reading, the furniture they are sitting on and the food they are eating is all due to agriculture. Almost everything we come in contact with has to do with agriculture.

Jennifer Hanson and students  

Grant Winners!

Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom proudly sponsors an agricultural literacy grant program. Cash awards (maximum of $400) are offered to encourage educators to bring agriculture and food systems education "to life" by effectively integrating related content into their classroom or school.   Grant applications are accepted and awarded twice a year - September 15th and February 1st. Congratulations to this year's winners!

Complete list of grant winners



Fantastic Resources   

Online Video Series - Agriculture: Serving Science and Society

Use Minnesota agriculture stories to help students understand the significant role that agriculture plays in their daily lives. Available on the MN Agriculture in the Classroom website or as a DVD.
Website - KidsGardening
Get a jump on the gardening season with this website from the National Gardening Association!  Information about starting and maintaining school gardens, lesson plans and grant opportunities are included.
E-zine - Agroworld

Subscribe to this bimonthly E-zine designed for secondary teachers.  It includes current events, classroom resources, activities, and grant opportunities that enhance standards based on science, applied technology, and social studies curricula.  Subscribe 


Children's Literature - Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens
Read this primary elementary literature to emphasizes gardening and harvesting.  Caldecott Honor winner and suggested text in the Language Arts Common Core.  Also included in the MN Ag in the Classroom Book Bundle.  ISBN 0-15-292851-0
Minnesota Teacher Natasha Mortenson earns Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award    

Natasha Mortenson, agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor at Morris Area High School, was recently named one of five award winners from across the United States in the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization's Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Awards Program.    


Mortenson has developed a layered leadership program that has allowed her high school FFA students to serve as mentors and teachers to K-5 student audiences in both their local and inner city elementary schools. Their inner city program involves live animals and various learning stations where Morris students bring agriculture "to life" for students with no exposure to food and agriculture. 


Mortenson will join winners from Florida, Maine, New Mexico, and Wyoming to be recognized at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Loveland, Colorado in June.  


MN Ag in the Classroom logo 
MN Agriculture in the Classroom


Since its inception in 1985, Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) has existed as a unique public/private partnership. The program staff is based at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, while the philanthropic work to fund program initiatives is led by the MAITC Foundation Executive Director and volunteer Board of Directors.

The MAITC program boasts broad-based support from Minnesota's agriculture and education communities. The mission of MAITC is "to promote understanding and awareness of the importance of agriculture".


Upcoming Events

March 15, 2012 
MAITC Foundation Board Meeting 
April 18-20, 2012
Regional AITC Board Meeting
April 22-24, 2012 
MN FFA Convention
June 19-22, 2012
National AITC Conference
Loveland, CO
Save the Date!
National conference logo 
Minnesota will be hosting the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference June 25-28, 2013 with guest speaker Andrew Zimmern, host of the Travel Channels Bizarre Foods
The goal of this national gathering is to provide opportunities for program staff, volunteers, and K-16 teachers to learn more about agriculture, how best to infuse content into their curriculum, and to explore the wealth of educational resources available to them in the classroom. Exciting workshops, tours and social events will fill the schedule!  Visit
 for more information.
Name the Newsletter Contest!
This newsletter needs a name!   Please send your ideas and suggestions to
If your newsletter name is selected you will win a high-quality reusable bag courtesy of the Minnesota Grown program filled with agriculture themed children's books and educational resources!


If you know someone who would like to receive this FREE newsletter please Sign-up Now!

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