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Agriculture offers important lessons

Ours is an agricultural county. We may be best known for peaches, but Chilton County farmers grow a variety of crops and other products.

Residents here are familiar with the bounty Chilton County has to offer—and the important lessons that can be learned through agriculture—and we are always glad when those who live outside the county can learn this also. That is why it was encouraging to see a group of about 85 educators from across Alabama tour two Chilton County farms recently as part of the Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute.

Kindergarten through sixth grade teachers toured Petals from the Past and the Chilton Research and Extension Center, and listened to a panel of prominent farmers talk about and answer questions about agriculture.

The institute, which this year was based in Prattville, includes two days of workshops, a tour day and a graduation ceremony. Upon graduation, the teachers receive about $250 worth of education materials including DVDs, textbooks, lesson plans, agriculture magazines and class sets of activity books.

The idea is for teachers to carry agricultural principles back to their schools—in the form of outdoor classrooms, school gardens or a variety of other ways.

There is no fee for teachers to attend. Their expense is paid through sponsorships.

The Alabama Farmers Federation sponsors AITC with funding primarily from the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation’s “ag tag” sales. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries and state agricultural organizations also provide support.

The panel of farmers that addressed teachers included Jimmy Parnell, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance, and cattle and timber farmer; Dr. Arlie Powell of Petals from the Past; Dorman Grace, poultry and row crop farmer in Walker County; and Andy Wendland of Autauga Farming Company.

Parnell, of Stanton, said he believes it is important to share information about agriculture with educators.

“We want to have an open forum and let them ask us questions,” Parnell said.

The teachers will undoubtedly benefit from the information they will take away from the institute, and their classrooms, schools and communities will be better because of it.

Chilton County can be proud of the role we play in this process.