At the PA Farms to Families Immersion Lab at the PA Farm Show today, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced $1.5 million in awards to schools and ag education programs through the PA Farm Bill 2022-23 Farm to School and Agriculture and Youth Grant Programs.
Nearly $1 million in Ag and Youth grants were awarded to youth organizations to promote development in the areas of agriculture, community leadership, vocational training, and peer fellowship. Nearly $536,000 in Farm to School grants were awarded to improve access to healthy, local foods and increase agriculture education opportunities for children from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
"Young people are the future of Pennsylvania agriculture, and their teachers, programs, field trips, and access to fresh foods frame their relationship with and understanding of ag," said Redding. "This $1.5 million will spark new interests in farming by connecting students to agriculture education while also improving access to nutritious foods."
Since 2019, Governor Tom Wolf has invested nearly $4 million to support and grow hundreds of farm-to-school programs and ag and youth programs through the PA Farm Bill.
The Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation earned a $25,000 grant to upgrade their successful mobile ag lab.
"This grant will help the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture replace one of our Mobile Ag Ed Science Lab Trailers, said grant recipient Charlene Espenshade, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation. "This grant helps to reduce our program overhead and keeps this program affordable for schools across the state. Since this program's inception nearly 20 years ago, more than 1.5 million students have learned about the power of agriculture in their everyday lives."
In their third year earning Farm to School grant program funds, West Perry School District was awarded $11,837 this round to continue progress with their fourth-grade program. The West Perry project works to teach agricultural science concepts, expose students to local farms, and raise awareness of farming as an exciting and viable career. Educators do this through tailored and engaging lesson plans in their classrooms and field trips in collaboration with the LEAF ProjectOpens In A New Window.
"West Perry School District is fortunate to engage our students in learning science authentically in many ways—including the lessons made possible by the Farm to School grant and our partnership with the LEAF project," said Michele Dubaich, assistant superintendent at West Perry School District." The Agriscience Adventures project that our students and teachers will benefit from will include materials and lessons that address science standards and culminate with a visit to The LEAF farm in Landisburg, Pennsylvania, located in our district's footprint."