Home Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom names executive director

Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom names executive director


virginia farm bureau federationEvery year, an estimated 500,000 Virginia schoolchildren better understand the value of agriculture thanks to Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom. The program, housed at Virginia Farm Bureau Federation since 1992, has connected children with agricultural concepts through professional development and resources for educators, school grants, teacher awards, volunteer initiatives and fundraisers. In the last year, a record-breaking $430,000 was raised to support AITC activities.

Tammy Maxey, who has led Virginia AITC for more than half of the last 30 years, was recently named executive director of the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. A former teacher, principal and 2020 president of the national AITC organization, Maxey said the Virginia AITC continues to grow.

As the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was no roadmap for sharing educational resources in the era of social distancing and school closures.

“But it gave us room to grow in other ways,” she said. “We needed to serve our children and educators regardless of whether we could go to a school or see one another. Every bit of our growth the last few years was virtual. It forced probably 10 years of change overnight.”

AITC administrators redesigned content development and program delivery formats, resulting in a new continuum of virtual lessons. Now its website, social media pages and YouTube channels are filled with activities for educators and children.

In 1981, the national AITC was initiated by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture John Block to improve agricultural literacy among the nation’s students. In Virginia, the organization was established through a partnership between Virginia Cooperative Extension and Farm Bureau.

“In its first year, we saw 100 teachers and did a couple trainings,” Maxey said. “Pre-pandemic we directly trained up to 3,000 teachers. Now we have professional development for teachers and name a teacher of the year. We offer grants and have an army of volunteers and AITC ambassadors.”

Grant recipients incorporate agricultural projects into core lessons year after year. And throughout annual Agriculture Literacy Week in March, statewide volunteers, including VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor, read the AITC book of the year to Virginia schoolchildren.

“Reading agriculture-themed books to children gives us an opportunity to share agriculture with students who might not be familiar with the industry,” he said. “And it helps them understand why it is so important in Virginia, and in their own communities too.”

Educators interested in AITC resources like books, posters and lesson plans can contact AITC staff at [email protected] or (804) 290-1143.

For more information, visit virginia.agclassroom.org



Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.

Latest News

Ross Breitenbach

Virginia Tech grad is now an Emmy Award-winning producer

mjf aew dynamite

AEW having trouble moving tickets for upcoming ‘Dynamite’ show in Norfolk

AEW is coming back to Chartway Arena in Norfolk, and it’s a guarantee that the number of people on hand won’t be anywhere near the company’s high-water mark at the venue.

Mamadi Diakite

UVA Basketball alum Mamadi Diakite traded to Memphis Grizzlies

UVA Basketball alum Mamadi Diakite, who saw limited action in the 2023-2024 NBA season with San Antonio and New York, is now on his way to Memphis, part of a trade with the Brooklyn Nets.

UVA Bob Klesges

UVA School of Medicine mourns Bob Klesges, top expert in tobacco cessation

Staunton recycling plastic

Staunton: Recycling program one year after successful move to Public Works

jail handcuffs

16-year-old Richmond juvenile arrested in homicide on Magnolia Street

police crime tape at crime scene

Richmond: Man found dead in roadway with gunshot identified by police