December Highlights from MN Ag in the Classroom

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MAITC Newsletter Banner 6.2.2017

Holiday Treats - December Theme

'Tis the season for snowmen, fuzzy socks, hot chocolate, and delicious holiday treats. Although this may be the off season for many of our farmers, we use their agriculture products a lot during this holiday season to provide delicious meals and holiday treats for our family and friends. This month, our social media, podcast, and highlighted lesson plans help to highlight those agriculture products throughout the month.

Agriculture touches us every single day and the best way to help students learn that is to show them. We are exploring honey, evergreen trees, wheat, and sugar beets to help your students learn more about how agriculture plays a significant role in the month of December. Visit our website to find additional lesson plans!

What's Growing on in Minnesota - MAITC Podcast Christmas Tree Farmer

Did you know that evergreen trees can be found on every continent except Antarctica? Some varieties can even live up to 200 years old! These very special trees are used for all sorts of very cool things - including the Christmas Tree that many of us put in our houses during the month of December. This month, we sat down with a Christmas tree farmer to learn more about all that goes into raising the perfect Christmas tree! Will Almendinger, from Rum River Tree Farm in Oak Grove Minnesota, has been Christmas tree farming for many years. In 2017, Will grew the winning Christmas Tree at the Minnesota State Fair.

Check out last month’s podcast focused on “Thanksgiving Turkey” and how they are raised here in Minnesota. To access this podcast and previous podcasts, visit our SoundCloud page and tune in!

Will Almendinger

Will Almendinger - Owner of Rum River Tree Farm

Outstanding Teacher Recipient - Beth Sletta

The Outstanding Teacher award is awarded to an educator who currently engages in classroom instruction at the K-12 grade level. This teacher will recognize his/her creative efforts to integrate agriculture into their classroom based on our definition of agriculture literacy. 

This year's recipient is Beth Sletta, a teacher at Jefferson Elementary School. Beth's integration of agriculture into her classroom started two years ago when a few students asked for a small garden plot at the school. Since then, the garden has grown into a large plot with produce including tomatoes, onions, peppers, pumpkins, beets, carrots, radishes and new fruit trees this year as well. When the produce is harvested, students have the opportunity to try new recipes with the healthy fruits and vegetables that requires the students to read, measure, and follow the directions in sequence.

Lady in Garden

Beth shares, "I believe that using more agriculture related lessons in my classroom has revitalized me as a teacher.    I am so excited to share the things that I have learned and I am eager to try new things with my students. My students have become so interested in the lessons that I have taught that they have encouraged their own families to start learning more about agriculture at home." 

Congratulations, Beth!

Ag Literacy Grants

Miinnesota Ag In The Classroom (MAITC) provides cash awards to K-12 educators to encourage them to bring agriculture and food systems "to life" by effectively integrating related content in their classroom or school. These Ag Literacy Grants can be used to fund new ideas as well as enhancements to current events or activities. MAITC aims to fund projects that provide students the opportunity to experience agriculture in a cross-curricular manner. 

Congratulations to the following grant recipients                            

  • Jeremy Engebretson, Monthly Ag Lessons and Field Trip, Victoria Elementary: Victoria                                               
  • Joan MacDonnell, One Vegetable, One Community Project, Congdon Park Elementary: Duluth            
  • Tera Kaitsas, Aquaponics Project and Field Trip, Integrated Arts Academy: Chaska
  • Stephanie McCleery, AP Human Geography Farm Tour Field Trip, Central High School: St. Paul                              
  • Jana Timm, Beekeeping Project, Freshwater Education District: Staples
  • Angela Mellies, Production Ag Exhibit, Wheel & Cog Children’s Museum: Hutchinson                                
  • Alysa Tulibaske, 4-H Day Camps, Marshall County 4-H Federation: Warren                                                      
  • Jessica Bester, Ag Careers Day, Ogilvie Public Schools: Ogilvie                                                                                
  • Jason Toupence, Aquaponics Project, St. Peter Middle School: St Peter
  • Ryan Melkert, 2nd Grade Ag Integrated Science, Martin County West–Sherburn Elementary: Sherburn            
  • Beth Sletta, Ag-Themed Books, Jefferson Elementary School: New Ulm                                                                              
  • Katie Bellmont, Hatching Science Project, North Trail Elementary: Farmington
  • Erin Guenther, First Year Teacher Grant, Mahnomen Elementary School: Mahnomen  

Explore our Virtual Barn

Virtual Barn Image

What is the virtual barn? Just like farmers keep their prized possessions (animals and crops for feed) in a barn, we're collecting very important information in our virtual barn - input from educators!  After using a MAITC lesson or resource, visit our virtual barn to share your feedback.  By providing feedback, not only are you entered to win one of our awesome Monthly Theme Kits (these feature a lesson and everything you'll need to do the lesson in your classroom) but you're also helping us improve and spread the word about agricultural literacy.

December Lessons and Activity Ideas

Looking for lessons related to this Holiday season? Check out these!


Discover Christmas Trees 

K - 2nd grade students will explore the history of the Christmas tree, life cycle of a conifer, types of trees and how they adapt, work done on a Christmas tree farm, and the ecology of conifer trees. This lesson incorporates science, history, and geography 


Wheat Germ DNA 

In this lesson, 3rd - 5th grade students use wheat as an example in exploring how DNA determines the genetic traits of a plant and how plant breeders change the DNA of a plant to produce desired characteristics. Help them understand what goes into the flour they use when baking!

Ag Trivia

Congratulations to our November Trivia winner Doug Jones!

December Trivia Question: Which continent is the only one to not have evergreen trees?

Send your answer to All correct responders within the first 24 hours after the newsletter is sent, will be entered in a drawing to win a MAITC reusable bag!