Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
510 S. 31st Street , Camp Hill, PA 17001 • 717.761.2740 • Email • @pfbmediaone
For Immediate Release: October 4, 2016
(York) – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) and its charitable organization, the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation (PFAF), welcomed the 1,000,000th student inside one of its Mobile Agriculture Education Science Labs during a visit to the North Salem Elementary School in Dover, York County.
The Mobile Agriculture Education Science Lab program has been bringing agriculture education to schools across Pennsylvania since 2003, when the first lab began making visits to schools in Southcentral Pennsylvania. Since then, the program has expanded to six Ag Labs, which travel into school districts across the Commonwealth, bringing fun, hands-on learning to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
“One million students is a monumental accomplishment and a figure our farmers would have never imagined possible when they proposed the idea of bringing agriculture education to students through a mobile classroom,” said PFB President Rick Ebert, who also serves as PFAF chairman. “Over the years, our Ag Lab teachers have helped youngsters gain a better grasp of where their food comes from and the critical role farmers play in providing food, clothing, fuel and other products to the public.”
Farm Bureau notes that the feedback from schools has been overwhelmingly positive and that many schools invite the Ag Lab back year after year, including the North Salem Elementary School.
“The Dover Area School District is very pleased with the educational experience that the Mobile Agriculture Science Lab brings to our students. The hands-on activities and curriculum allow all of our students an educational experience that they would not be able to experience in a normal classroom setting,” said Charles Benton, Director of Career Education and Academic Services with the Dover Area School District. “The Mobile Ag Lab allows all of our students to learn about many different aspects of agriculture education and our students look forward to the opportunity to go through it every year.”
School districts further benefit from an Ag Lab visit, because the lesson plans are aligned with the Pennsylvania Department of Education standards for Environment & Ecology and Science & Technology.
“The hands-on experiments help students gain a better understanding of the scientific process, while increasing awareness of agriculture’s importance in their everyday lives,” said Mobile Ag Ed Science Lab Program Director Tonya Wible. “The kids also have a lot of fun and show a real enthusiasm for learning during our Ag Lab visits.”
A Mobile Lab can educate up to 900 students and involve up to 30 teachers per week. Once stationed at a school, students enter the lab to perform science experiments, such as making crayons from soybeans and testing the water capacity of different soils. During the 1,000,000th celebration, students took part in the “Fungi Fun” lesson, which allowed them to work as plant botanists to identify functions, characteristics and properties of plants and fungi. The experiment included the dissection of a mushroom.
“The Ag Lab program is an expensive venture and wouldn’t be possible without donations and fundraising events hosted by farmers, the Friends of Ag Foundation and contributions from our sponsors. We’d like to thank all of our supporters for helping to make agriculture education a reality for one-million students across Pennsylvania,” concluded Ebert.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization with a volunteer membership of nearly 62,000 farm and rural families, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.