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Educators encouraged to apply for AITC grants this fall

Virginia Agriculture in the ClassroomVirginia’s Agriculture in the Classroom program is encouraging K-12 educators and organizations to apply for $30,000 in grants to help integrate agriculture into classroom curriculums in the 2020-2021 school year.

Teachers, organizations like 4-H clubs and FFA chapters that work with schools, and parent-teacher associations can apply for up to $500 for agriculture-related initiatives.

In the past 5 years, more than 300 grants have helped connect 100,000 children to agriculture. The grants help educators broaden children’s farm knowledge by implementing agriculture-related projects in their classrooms.

With a grant to help fund a variety of creative projects both inside or outside traditional classrooms, educators can increase students’ understanding of farming. Projects may occur at school or at home, addressing topics like gardening and horticulture, nutrition, embryology and STEM themes that provide unique agriculture experiences. Virtual projects also can be included.

In addition, AITC has provided an extension for 2019-2020 school year grants until Dec. 31, 2020.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic impact, educators are sending home hands-on projects, including gardening models, which provide children and their families a chance to grow plants possibly for the first time,” explained Tammy Maxey, Virginia AITC programs director. “Past recipients also conducted virtual class meetings highlighting hydroponics activities, school garden progress and even monitoring the progress of embryology projects started prior to the pandemic.”

Maxey said she anticipates seeing new endeavors this year, given the unique school environments and virtual learning experiences.

The grants also provide an avenue to give children and youth hands-on experiences and an opportunity to learn about where their food comes from, Maxey added. Additionally, children learn about the variety of career opportunities in agricultural fields.

Grant applications are available online at AgInTheClass.orgThe application deadline is Oct. 15.

To learn more about educational activities available through Virginia AITC, visit Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status in writing by Nov. 15.