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Minnesota Department of Agriculture offers student learning opportunities at home

Kaitlyn Riley

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While school is out across the Midwest, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) reminds parents of resources to learn outside the classroom.

The Coronavirus created unprecedented situations across the globe. Whether parents seek structure for their children or teachers work to develop virtual curriculum for when classes resume online, Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom has free resources that can be a valuable tool for digital and distance learning.

“These can provide some engagement, some fun things to do while they are away from friends and teachers,” Sue Knott, MDA education specialist, said. “We hope teachers have been using them. Now since everything is new and changing, we are hoping that they can be useful to teachers who are planning distant learning opportunities and also for parents who are at home trying to make time useful and valuable for their kids.”

The AgMag magazine series for K-6 is one of the state’s most long-lasting resources. First introduced as a print magazine in 1986, it has now evolved. Content is available digitally with interactive games and features for students.

The Educator Center offers teacher guides, lesson and activity ideas for educators. Additionally, a Curriculum Matrix lets users search for grade-appropriate lessons and activities that can be modified to be completed independently.

Students can have an on-the-farm experience from their homes with a collection of recordings in the Video Library.

“We give people a glimpse into a farm,” Knott said. “We have a couple that are my favorites, and we call them, ‘Follow Your Food.’ So they follow, for example, carrots from a farm in Northfield, Minn. all the way back to an elementary school.”

Those videos also include teacher guides and discussion questions.

Knott noted about 2 percent of the population is involved in production agriculture and hoped these materials could give teachers and families a taste of what agriculture is all about.

“These students are consumers right now,” Knott said. “We hope in the future they are policymakers and community members who care about how land and resources are used. With a little bit of knowledge and agriculture literacy, we hope they can make really informed decisions. Farmers and agriculturalists are working to give us a really safe food supply as well as many other things we use every day.”

Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom information can be found online. There will also be specific resources featured on Facebook and Twitter.

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