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Agricultural Literacy Week

Agricultural Literacy Week ~ March 19-23, 2018


How Does Agricultural Literacy Week (ALW) Work?

In celebration of New York agriculture, volunteers throughout the state will read a book with an agricultural theme to second graders. Students and teachers will also benefit from hands-on lessons and receive follow up activities. The book will be donated to the school or classroom library with a bookplate recognizing the donor and NY Agricultural Literacy Week. 2,000 books were donated last year while thousands of second graders participated in fun and educational activities.

2018 Agricultural Literacy Week begins Monday, March 19th and runs through Friday, March 23rd.

Start to Finish the program takes about 30 minutes per classroom.

  1. Literacy Volunteers work with their county coordinators to set up visits to their local schools.
  2. Volunteers read to students in first through third grade classrooms.
  3. Following the reading, volunteers conduct an activity with students and share their experiences in agriculture.

All activity materials are prepared by NYAITC and schools get to keep a copy of the book for their school or classroom library.

Click here to find your County Coordinator and their contact information.

About This Year's Book

Before We Eat: From Farm to Table

Before We Eat: From Farm to Table

By Pat Brisson and Illustrated by Mary Azarian

We are proud to feature a book that displays the vast opportunities and diversity that New York agriculture encompasses this year. Students will be taken on the journey from farm to table to understand different aspects of agriculture and the many possible careers involved. This is a captivating glimpse on what it takes to bring the food we eat to us in order to nourish our bodies and spirits.

From the busy hub of New York City, to the mountains of the Adirondacks, and to the fertility of the Finger Lakes our state is expansive and encompasses all types of agricultural industries. Careers and post-secondary education opportunities are abundant in traditional and developing food-centric industries. Agriculture contributes over $37 billion to the New York State economy and ranks in the top ten in the nation for yogurt, apples, grapes, calves, and onions, among other products. These products and industries create careers essential to the food system that are not always initially thought of: arborists, soil engineers, animal geneticists, butchers, aquaculturists, truck drivers, grocers, and more.

STEM careers and post-secondary opportunities of all kinds are highlighted with vivid illustrations. It will be essential for our students to understand the importance of agriculture as an economic driver in communities across New York, and develop an awareness for future career possibilities. All lessons, activities, and companion materials are aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards.

Educator Resources

Educator Resource Guide
This resource includes the food-system mapping lesson plan, vocabulary, K-2 domain connections, and extension opportunities to further learning about the many steps in moving food from the farm to the fork.

Sequencing Cards
The sequencing cards are available to print. They are an essential file for the featured activity explained in the Educator Resource Guide.

Additional New York Agriculture Products for Featured Activity
If you are interested in swapping out the apple or Chobani cup for the Agricultural Literacy Week featured activity, consider using any of the items featured in this document. Bring in samples or examples of products that are of most interest to you, or that you produce on your farm.

Food Mapping Worksheet
As a learning extension for grades 3-5, break your students into groups with a New York agriculture product and have them complete the Food Mapping Worksheet. Have them share their ideas with the group and discuss their accuracy or talk about the actual processes the item went through. Additionally, the worksheet can be used with grades K-2 and filled in as you talk about the provided products as a class.

Vocabulary Quizlet
Teachers are encouraged to use our Before We Eat Quizlet to prepare their students for their volunteer reader's classroom visit.

Volunteer Training Video
New and returning volunteers for Agricultural Literacy Week should watch this video for helpful insight into reading the book and delivering the short activity to your assigned classrooms. We hope this visual and conversational guide will help you feel prepared to share your knowledge and passion about agriculture.

Lesson Extensions

  • Have your students identify some of the different careers in the book and explore their favorite one. Students could then identify specific duties, education, and pathways for this career.
  • Ask your students to identify someone in their life that takes part in the food system and write a letter thanking them for their role (i.e. cafeteria worker, farmer, parent, etc.).
  • Explore the food system with other New York agriculture products. Visit our website for a list of products and some examples.

Teacher Reference

  • Growing Food
    This curriculum module is designed to teach science through study of the food system. The module's driving question — How does nature provide us with food? — frames students' investigations as they learn about critical ideas in science: the cycling of matter and the flow of energy. Students engage in hands-on investigations of photosynthesis, explore food webs, discuss and debate managing agricultural systems, and more.

Lesson Plans

  • Source Search (Grades K-2)
    Source Search (Grades 3-5)
    In this lesson students will learn that agriculture provides nearly all of the products we rely on in any given day by participating in a relay where they match an everyday item with its "source."
  • My Farm Web (Grades K-2)
    My Farm Web (Grades 3-5)
    Students use the visual representation of a web to explore the role of agriculture in their daily lives and understand how most of the necessities of life can be traced back to the farm.
  • A is for Apples (Grades K-2)
    Students will use the five senses to investigate apples, identify and model the parts of an apple, make applesauce, and learn how apples are grown.
  • Fruits of Our Labor (Grades K-2)
    Students will discover how fresh fruits can be dried and preserved by participating in an activity where they make raisins by drying grapes.
  • Where Does it Come From? (Grades 3-5)
    Students will explore the connection between geography, climate, and the type of agriculture in an area by reading background information and census data about the agricultural commodities beef, potatoes, apples, wheat, corn, and milk.
  • Grocery Store Problem Solving (Grades 3-5)
    Students will use basic mathematical skills to solve problems related to the cost of food while integrating geography and nutrition to enhance learning. Activities include analyzing grocery ads, assessing the nutrition and cost of meals, and exploring diets around the world.
  • Edible Numbers (Grades 3-5)
    Students will develop a working vocabulary regarding food, categorize foods by their sources, examine grocery ads, learn about food production, and apply what they learned by analyzing foods they eat at a particular meal.


  • Food Doesn't Grow in the Supermarket!
    This DVD, narrated by children, follows "The City Guy," an adult who thinks he knows where food comes from (the grocery store), as he visits three different farms to learn where food really comes from and what it takes to produce it. Interesting even for those who have experience in farming and food production! This video is available on DVD or YouTube
  • Planet Food Online Game
    Have your students discover their own global food network by playing Planet Food—a two-part interactive game that introduces the concepts of interdependence and globalization through the geography of food. In part one, students see the ways food on their plate creates a map that criss-crosses the world. Part two will call on their critical thinking and geographic decision-making skills in an investigative journey as they consider different values and points of view while making a bar of chocolate.
  • Virtual Field Trip to an Egg Farm
    Join egg farmers and their families to learn how eggs travel from farm to table.

Agricultural Literacy Week Archive

Now in its 13th Year, Agricultural Literacy Week has helped to bring agriculturally themed books and resources into thousands of classrooms and libraries throughout New York State.
Click here to explore past years books and resources.

  • The Grapes Grow Sweet
  • The Apple Orchard Riddle
  • Weaving the Rainbow
  • Who Grew My Soup?
  • The Beeman
  • The Honeybee Man
  • Seed, Soils, Sun
  • Chicks & Chickens
  • The Tree Farmer
  • Sugarbush Spring
  • Empire State Investigator
  • Lily's Garden
  • Extra Cheese Please

Sponsorships & Donations

Would you like to fund the purchase of one or more books?

The books are $12 each and will be donated to the school library after being read.

Send your donation to your county coordinator (make checks payable to Cornell University and indicate "Ag Literacy Week" in the memo line). Donors will be recognized on a special bookplate. You may choose to have your donated book sent to a specific school, or to read it yourself to your local school.