Education | Apr 11, 2016

Celebrating Volunteers

We will be celebrating ag literacy volunteers all year by adding more stories to this article! Thank you to everyone who goes out there and helps educate about agriculture!

Ag literacy volunteer

 As we post, the newest volunteer stories will appear on top. Enjoy these stories and be sure to thank your volunteers year round! 

Nominate a volunteer to be recognized! 

8. Melissa Hight, NC

Melissa Hight is a member of the New Hanover County Farm Bureau board of directors and serves on the North Carolina Farm Bureau State Women’s Committee. Melissa promotes Ag in the Classroom at the Feast Down East Festival held each year to promote the aquaculture in New Hanover County. She also teaches embryology lessons to 2nd grade students within New Hanover County. This county is the 2nd smallest county in North Carolina, but most people live in a mainly urban setting which makes teaching them about agriculture very important! Melissa is passionate about ag literacy and feels that “AITC contributes to a more well-rounded student and opens up a new world to them.” 

7. Sine Kerr, Catherine Mann, and Vickie Parks, AZ

“It was a beautiful day at the Arizona Game & Fish Expo. While I was excited and looking forward to engaging students at the Ag in the Classroom booth during the Expo, I was most surprised by the reaction of their parents, teachers, and chaperones,” said Sine Kerr, Arizona Women’s Leadership Chair. As hundreds of students lined up to spin the wheel and answer questions about agriculture (and win some candy), it didn't take long for the adults to want to get in on the action! Some of the questions were as simple as "where does bacon come from?" to "what is the gestation period for a cow to give birth to a calf?". Many students and children came back for multiple opportunities to spin the wheel throughout the day! With each "spin" came fun and meaningful conversations about many types of agriculture.

Members of the Women’s Leadership’s next activity involved a "matching" game. There was a board set up with some of the different commodities grown, produced, and mined in Arizona. We had Honey Bees, Cotton, Cattle, Sheep, and Copper. The students and children were challenged to match up different outdoor and hunting products to the commodities represented on the board. For example, we had a picture of an ATV. The ATV has several components that involve agriculture. One possible answer was to match it to Cattle for the leather seats or the plastics that were made from the fatty acids of cattle. Another answer could be matching it to Copper for the wiring under the hood. And cotton could also be an answer because of the cotton used in the tires. This activity was especially eye opening as the children and adults became aware that so many of the products we use every day depend on agriculture! We didn't even get into the food we eat! After students played the matching game, they then could play "Plinko" for a chance to win a cow eraser or a color changing pencil.
“Engaging the public is a vital part of what we must do each and every day, “ said Kerr. Whether hundreds are reached through an Expo or one person through casual conversation in the produce section of the grocery store, letting people know that you farm or ranch opens up multiple doors for agriculture outreach. Our lives depend on Ag in many ways!”

Thanks Sine, Catherine, and Vickie for your devotion to ag literacy! 

6. Oregon Farm Bureau Ag Education Committee, OR

The Oregon Farm Bureau Ag Education Committee puts on many public ag literacy outreach projects. The committee’s largest project every year is a hugely popular booth at Oregon Ag Fest at the state fairgrounds, where Farm Bureau members and FFA students work together to help attendees make over 2,000 Dirt Babies (aka a farmer’s version of a Chia Pet) in two days. Besides giving the public a chance to do a fun, hands-on ag education activity, Farm Bureau’s booth also offers many ag-education-themed giveaways and displays, a corn pool for kids, and an opportunity for the public to talk to Oregon farmers and ranchers.

A special thank you to:

A shepherd from central Oregon, Mickey Killingsworth serves as the Ag Ed Committee chair and is the heart and soul of Oregon Ag Fest. She organizes about 35 volunteers, solicits donations from county Farm Bureaus, determines what supplies are needed, and makes sure everyone involved feels appreciated. Mickey is our fearless leader and no one works harder on behalf of Farm Bureau.

Jacque Jones serves as vice chair of the Ag Ed Committee. Raised on a berry and grass seed farm where she still works in the summer, Jacque is an elementary school teacher for most of the year. Using material from the AFBF Foundation for Education and the Ag in the Classroom program, Jacque incorporates facts about agriculture and its importance to society whenever she can in her classrooms.

A cattle rancher and longtime member of the Ag Ed Committee, Roberta Valladao is another core volunteer at Ag Fest. She works on ag education outreach projects at the state and county level throughout the year. Hardworking and always cheerful, Roberta is an amazing volunteer!

Thank you to the entire Oregon Farm Bureau Ag Education Committee for working on so many levels to educate about agriculture!

5. Anne Rigor, OR


Anne Rigor is a lifelong, passionate, dedicated Farm Bureau volunteer in Oregon. At the state level, she has served as chair of the OFB Women’s Advisory Council and OFB Health & Safety Committee. At the county Farm Bureau level, few work harder than Anne. She is the official secretary of two county Farm Bureaus and does a lot of administrative work for a third. For many years, Anne has been the primary organizer of Farm Bureau’s donation of groceries to the two Ronald McDonald House Charities in Portland. With the Health & Safety Committee, she has spearheaded a successful campaign promoting rural road safety, creating a brochure and traveling display that’s been everywhere from county fairs to the state capitol. Anne always pitches in at Farm Bureau’s booth at Oregon Ag Fest, which offers hands-on ag education activities for kids and families; at the Summer Ag Institute, which educates teachers about agriculture; and at numerous county Farm Bureau public outreach events promoting the importance of Oregon agriculture to society. 

Thank you so much Anne for your role in educating about ag!

4. Lynwood Broaddus, VA

Lynwood is a staple during the 10 days at the Virginia State Fair. He is the assistant superintendent to the farm plot of crops. He assists with exhibit intake, pickup, contest judging for numerous contests, including the Brunswick stew competition and the largest pumpkin weigh in. His most notable job is greeting guests at the farm plot, where there are many examples of major Virginia crops. He interacts with the guests by answering questions and explaining about farming and Virginia agriculture.

He has given many presentations at meetings and conferences about his involvement at the fair, where he reiterates the importance of farmers "telling their story" to the consumer.

Lynwood has also served on the Caroline County Farm Bureau board of directors for 36 years and is currently serving as the president. In addition, he serves on the State Fair of Virginia board of directors and is chairman of the scholarship committee. He is on the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Legislative Advisory Committee, the Soybean & Feed Grain Marketing Advisory Committee and AgPac. Lynwood is highly involved with his church as chairman of the Administration Council and sings in the choir.

Thank you for your dedication Lynwood!

3. US Navy VFA-11, Virginia Beach VA

During the installation of White Oaks Elementary School's Learning Garden the volunteers from the United States Navy's VFA-11 from NAS Oceana were instrumental community partners. The group helped move 80 cubic yards of mulch and 12 cubic yards of soil, build beautiful garden boxes, and paint school bus tires for a feature garden. Their enthusiasm to help make the Learning Garden a fabulous place for the students to learn was so greatly appreciated. 

Thanks US Navy VFA-11 for helping to create a space to educate about ag!!

2.  Kurt Boudonck, NC

Kurt is the greenhouse leader at Bayer's North American HQ in Research Triangle Park. He is in charge of the day-to-day operations for each of our greenhouses, and he also manages research teams in each. Outside of his "day job" Kurt is a big believer in educating the public on agricultural technology and the importance of it. As our greenhouse leader, naturally he is a big proponent of biotechnology, and as a way to increase public knowledge about the technology Kurt welcomes tour groups to the greenhouse on a weekly basis. Often times these tour groups are students. I have joined Kurt on many of these tours and his enthusiasm and passion for his work and agriculture are indescribable. He goes out of his way to make sure that every student is engaged and leaves with a better understanding of biotech than when he or she first arrived at Bayer.

Leading tours and empowering his team to lead them as well are not the only thing Kurt does on the education front. He is also an active participant in the Bayer Making Science Make Sense program, which helps promote STEM education through hands-on activities with young students. Kurt work in the Making Science Make Sense program including visiting classrooms to engage with students, leading activities with students who visit Bayer's campus in RTP, leading a Teacher Workshop that helps local teachers take STEM activities back to the classroom, and developing educational experiments that explain the science of agriculture.

As impressive as all of that is, perhaps Kurt's most admirable work is as a father. He has five young children and he dedicates himself to teaching them about agriculture just as passionately as he does to the visitors he receives at Bayer. Kurt works with them to plant and maintain a garden at home, and uses that experience as a way to teach them about the challenges farmers face from weather and pests each year.

He also puts an emphasis on community service and volunteerism. Just recently he took his children to a nearby farm to help harvest produce that was destined for a local food bank. It’s great that he documents all of this on his personal Twitter page, where he actively advocates for agriculture.

WOW! Thank you Kurt for going above and beyond to educate about agriculture and to be a valuable member of your community.  

1. Deb Walsh and Jennifer Richter, IN 

Deb Walsh and Jennifer Richter, both active members of Indiana Farm Bureau, had a brilliant idea to start school bus ag lessons before school. Each morning before school, there is a 15 minute block of time for students who don’t eat breakfast at school. Before Deb and Jennifer started the lessons, these students, ranging from Kindergarten to 6th grade, would just hang out some, just playing games on phones. That’s when Deb and Jennifer had the great idea. Why not use that time to teach the students about agriculture?

By combining their two buses, these amazing volunteers have been able to reach about 20 students and teach them about where their food comes from! Students have made butter, played My American Farm games, learned where maple sugar comes from and planted peas for our First Peas to the Table Contest.

Because of Deb Walsh’s and Jennifer Richter’s dedication to ag literacy, these students have learned about all different aspects of agriculture, from livestock to crops. We are incredibly grateful for volunteers like this who help educate about the importance of agriculture.

Thank you so much Deb and Jennifer for making a difference!

Do you want to get involved too? Here are some ideas!

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How do you use AFBFA resources? We are always looking for ways to create resources that are more impactful.