Classrooms crow for agriculture (Editorial)

(Nov. 4, 2014) It’s a fact of life in 21st century Anerica: Culturally, we are being carried farther and farther away from our agricultural roots.
On a block on the southern end of an Eastern Shore town there lives a family that had a small flock of chickens in the backyard, a rooster and four hens, which supplied the family with fresh eggs.
Every morning and evening, and some times during the day, the rooster — neighbors called him “Charlie” — serenaded the neighborhood. For some in the neighborhood, the crowing was a joy. For a few, it was a cherished reminder of their youthful days on the farm.
And for others? Well, it didn’t last.
Quite suddenly, the crowing stopped. And then, neighbors said they spotted authorities checking backyards and alleys in the ’hood.
Charlie was no more. In some residential areas, you can have chickens, but not roosters.
Charlie apparently fell victim to that zoning violation and perhaps paid the ultimate price. (We hope not, we hope he’s in a farmyard somewhere, not in the soup.)
So, here’s some good news: Farm organizations in the Mid-Atlantic are reaching into elementary and middle school classrooms across the region in a bold effort to instill in the students a knowledge and understanding — and a respect — of their agricultural heritage.
The states-wide Ag in the Classroom programs have been at this for some time.
The Maryland Soybean Board has distributed more than 200,000 copies across the nation of its booklet featuring a soybean given the scientific name of soybeans Glycine Max, “You can call me Max,” that tells the story of the crop for fourth- and fifth-graders.
The Maryland Grain Producers is creating another booklet telling the story of grains with a ball team of three, “Rex Barley,” “Willie Maize” and “Red Wheat.”
Most recently, The Delmarva Poultry Industry has announced it is introducing a new educational resource for use in middle school classrooms.
“Flock to the Classroom” is a series of six lessons that explore the many facets of the chicken industry on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Developed under the leadership of DPI’s Connie Parvis in cooperation with educational professionals at the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, the educational tools are designed to enhance science and social studies, and math classes.
The lessons are aligned with one or more educational standards set to ensure their usability in regional classrooms.
“With fewer people involved in food production, DPI recognized a need to create lesson plans that share with students and teachers information about our chicken industry and its relevance to many areas of education” Parvis said..
Copies of the 45-page manual, “Flock to the Classroom,” are available to middle school educators (Grades 5-9) in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia at no charge. Teachers in other states may request copies at $12 on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
“Flock to the Classroom” was made possible through a grant provided by the United Soybean Board and soybean farmers in Maryland and Delaware as part of the board’s national program to support animal agriculture, the largest customer base for America’s soybean farmers.
We feel sure these educational efforts — and particularly that of the DPI — would win the applause and endorsement of Charlie.