A Year of AG in your Classroom 2019-2020!
Pollinators are vital creatures in the production of our food. The monarch butterfly has greatly diminished in numbers (90% decrease in the last 20 years). One of the reasons for the decrease is due to the lack of adequate habitats for the monarch butterflies. This lesson will provide facts about the monarch butterfly, give details about the monarch butterflies’ annual cycle and migration pattern, and identify the native plants to Illinois (milkweed and important nectar plants) that are vital for the monarch butterfly. We will discuss what schools and students can do to help provide natural habitats for these beautiful pollinators. Students will work together to create an action plan to help monarch butterflies. Students will create a seed bomb that they can plant in their backyards or on the school grounds that will provide important nectar for the butterflies.
SOIL - COMPOSTING
Soil is an extremely important part of agriculture. Students will watch a video explaining (with fractions) just how precious the soil we have to grow our food is on Earth. Our discussion on soil will include the different types, the soil layers, what makes up soil and the kinds of soils that we have in Illinois. In addition, we will highlight composting as one option to help with a growing food waste problem and discover how composting can benefit our soil. Better Earth is a local organic compost facility that accepts yard waste, tree waste, food scraps, manures, wood and pallets. They turn this waste into Better Earth Premium Organic Compost, mulches, soil mixes and animal bedding.
Potatoes What is a Thanksgiving meal without potatoes, whether your favorite includes, Idaho or sweet, potatoes are definitely a main dish. Did you know potatoes are grown right here in Illinois? Peoria County has a potato chip factory located in Farmington-Kitchen Cooked. Students will discover the variety of potatoes available, the research of George Washington Carver on sweet potatoes (actually not a potato), view the steps from farm to table of potatoes and discover the nutritious benefits of this starchy vegetable. The students will compare the growing process of a potato and sweet potato. We hope to have samples of Kitchen Cooked chips as well.
RENEWABLE ENERGY - SOLAR
Renewable Energy sources are constantly in demand and growing in popularity. Students will learn about non-renewable energy and renewable energy and their differences. Peoria County has recently approved solar farms to be constructed. We will share with the students what a solar farm will look like in our community and how a solar farm operates. Students will discover how non-renewable resources are depleted by observing and manipulating a model: Renew-A-Bead activity.
NCAUR (National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research)
Students will learn the importance of the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL. NCAUR supports research to improve agriculture production, food safety and environmental quality. Students will identify at least six common products that were developed at the ag lab. We will also discuss current research that is being conducted on insects at NCAUR. Students will practice being NCAUR scientist.
Our annual pig visit is back! The students will learn basic pork facts including history, terminology, the food they eat, the facilities used to raise pigs today and fun pig facts. The lesson will also teach the students about pork nutrition by comparing the fat and protein content of pork to other forms of protein. We will discuss the nutrient cycle, biosecurity on farms and all the wonderful products pigs provide. Of course, the adorable piglet will be visiting the classrooms participating in AITC.
This month will be the 50th year celebration of Earth Day! Focusing on trees in order to celebrate this milestone is perfect. They stand like statues amongst fields of other crops and we often forget how much we depend on these plants for so many products in our lives. In this lesson the students will learn about tree farms, the products we get from trees, the way they are grown and how they are harvested. We will also take a look at a few native Illinois trees and learn how to identify those trees. Students will explore tree rings and their significance. We will check in on the White Oak trees given out last year and how they are growing.