Florida Agriculture Literacy Day is more popular than ever

The 12th annual Florida Agriculture Literacy Day will highlight an exciting part of Florida’s agriculture industry — livestock and poultry.

“This year’s book, Drive Through Florida: Livestock and Poultry, is different from previous years’ Ag Literacy Day books because it is the first in a series of non-fiction books, which are being created in part to help teachers meet new educational elementary standards that emphasize reading for content and reading non-fiction texts,” said Lisa Gaskalla, executive director of Florida Agriculture in the Classroom.

Ag Literacy Day is April 21.

The book features an animated red truck that takes students on a tour of Florida’s beef, dairy, poultry, swine, equine, sheep and goat industries. “Future books will feature a different aspect of the Florida agriculture industry each year after that. For example, and not necessarily in this order, each Ag Literacy Day book in the coming years will feature Florida fruits, Florida vegetables, Florida seafood and aquaculture, Florida nursery products, Florida natural resources, forestry, phosphate and more,” Gaskalla said.

FFVA's Avery LeFils reads to a classroom during last year's Ag Literacy Day.

The book was created at the direction of Florida Ag in the Classroom’s board of directors and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Both groups invite farmers, growers, ranchers, Farm Bureau members, Florida cattlemen and cattlewomen, University of Florida IFAS extension and 4-H agents, master gardeners, FFA teachers and students and agriculture industry representatives to read in elementary classrooms around the state as part of the event. Volunteers do not have to read to schoolchildren on Ag Lit Day, but they are urged to do so as soon as possible before the end of the school year.

The book is geared to the third, fourth and fifth grades. It can be read to younger elementary students, with a little help from the instructions in the book and in an online video that will be posted on Florida Ag in the Classroom’s website.

“Because this year’s Ag Literacy Day book is so different from previous years’ books — its text does not rhyme and the content contains more facts and figures — we will have instructions in the book on how to read to younger and older elementary audiences. Also, our team of teacher facilitators is in the process of developing fun activities to complement the book to help make reading the book more fun for readers and students alike,” Gaskalla said.

A record 1,842 Florida agriculture industry volunteers read to 4,000-plus classes and to more than 81,000 elementary students for Florida Agriculture Literacy Day April 29, 2014.” – Lisa Gaskalla, Florida Ag in the Classroom

The book and materials will be provided to readers at no charge, thanks to funding that Florida Ag in the Classroom receives from sales of the agriculture specialty license plate called the “Ag Tag” and a donation from the Florida Farm Bureau’s Women’s Committee.

Teachers and agriculture industry representatives interested in participating should check Florida Ag in the Classroom’s website at www.agtag.org to order materials beginning in February. The deadline to register for materials is April 7 for those who are reading on Florida Agriculture Literacy Day.

Readers are asked to schedule their classroom visits first, then order materials. Materials will be mailed to readers. Readers will receive one book, one disc with the book and teacher resources on it and classroom sets of stickers and bookmarks per classroom. They should deliver the materials to the classroom on the day of the reading.

“A record 1,842 Florida agriculture industry volunteers read to 4,000-plus classes and to more than 81,000 elementary students for Florida Agriculture Literacy Day April 29, 2014. So the event is gaining in popularity,’ Gaskalla said.

Florida Agriculture in the Classroom is a non-profit organization that educates Florida teachers and students about where their food, fiber and fuel comes from using lessons, materials, grant programs and other projects.

For more information, contact Gaskalla at 352-846-1391 or email gaskalla@ufl.edu.

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