“Agriculture In The Classroom” is a national program managed by the United States Department of Agriculture.
<p class=”p2″>Utah AITC, founded in 1994, operates through Utah State University Extension and as of August 1 has a new director. She is Denise Stewardson, who until 2009 spent four years as AITC outreach coordinator.
<p class=”p2″>“Every state in the country has an Ag in the Classroom program with a cooperative agreement through the USDA,” said Stewardson. “Our mission is to help students and consumers and teachers understand the importance of agriculture in their daily lives.”
<p class=”p2″>She said in trying to educate K-12 students about agriculture the effort is to use teachers as the conduit.
<p class=”p2″>“We know that teachers are the experts in terms of their classrooms so we provide hundreds of resources for them. We work very closely with the Utah Farm Bureau Women’s Committee and we do Farm Field Days for students.”
<p class=”p2″>Stewardson started at USU more than 10 years ago working at Conference Services on the USU campus and then took a break to raise her two children.
<p class=”p2″>“I came back and taught part time and then when my children were older I decided to get back into the workforce and in 2005 I came to work for Debra Spielmaker, who founded Utah AITC. I worked as an outreach coordinator for Utah AITC for four years.”
<p class=”p2″>In 2009 she accepted an opportunity to teach full time for the Agriculture Systems Technology and Education Department in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.
<p class=”p2″>“I did that for four years then Debra decided to release this position to work full time in our Career in Technical Education master’s program and this job opened up and I thought what a great opportunity for me to continue in agricultural literacy and really challenge myself professionally. So I applied and fortunately was hired.”
<p class=”p2″>Her first day on the job was Thursday, August 1.
<p class=”p2″>Stewardson said all of the resources that Utah AITC puts together are based on Utah Core Standards.
<p class=”p2″>“We use agriculture as a vehicle to teach what teachers are already teaching in their classroom. All of our resources that are found online at utah.agclassroom.org are resources that get into the hands of teachers and can be used to teach that Utah Core Curriculum.”